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Alex's swim journal

Recovering slowly... counting strokes

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by , February 6th, 2014 at 07:18 PM (118 Views)
I spent several days out with the flu last week and it's still taking me a while to get my strength back. I missed five whole days of swimming in a row... the first time that has happened in over three years. As I got back into the pool last weekend I made a conscious decision just to work on form for a while, knowing I would get frustrated by not swimming the times I was swimming when I left off training the week before. I focused on stroke count, rather than time. This has been a good thing, slowing down and doing a lot of drill... something I typically don't like to do, but know I should if my swimming is going to get to the next level.

So I've spent this week working through all the TI drills for freestyle (and adapting some of them for backstroke). The balance thing and lengthening of stroke is starting to pay off (at least in terms of my stroke count). During a set of 20 x 25 free on :45 last Sunday, I was bringing them in right at :19-:20 with a stroke count of 12-13... pretty relaxed. My backstroke set was 9-10 underwater dolphins and 10-11 strokes to the wall in a slow :23-:24. I was doing 5-6 strokes on the fly set (probably :23-:24). So even though I was :02-:04 slower per rep i didn't feel so bad about it because I was really extending my stroke.

My hope is that as my strength returns and I begin increasing the stroke rate again that my stroke length will have improved and I'll be swimming more efficiently. Last night Scotty and I did a pyramid workout. My strength was just not there, especially after fly, but, again, I didn't feel too bad about the effort because I could focus on stroke count. During the fly pyramid (25-50-75-100-100-75-50-25, all on :45/25 interval), I was able to bring my first length in at 5-6 full strokes and then hold 7 strokes after that. So the two 100s had total stroke counts of 27 (in 1:41) and 28 (in 1:39).

I do feel like I'm running out of time to prepare for state (end of March) and I just don't have the yardage base that I have had the last couple of years by this time. I hope the work on efficiency can help compensate for some of that, but there's no getting around the fact that I need to be putting in the yards at pace if I'm going to reach my goals in the 400 IM, 200 back, and 1650 free. I don't feel ready to tackle 100s at pace for 1650 or 50s at 200 pace just yet, but I decided to do some 50s at 1650 pace... keeping track of my stroke counts. Tuesday I did 20 x 50 on 1:00; Today I did 30 x 50 on 1:00. Didn't feel too bad. Last year's pace was 1:31/100 for the 1650; this year I want to be around 1:25, so :42-:43 was the theme for my 50 repeats. The nice thing about doing 50s instead of 100s is that the form doesn't start to fall apart as badly. My stroke counts for the 50s were around 29-31 mostly (13-14 the first length, 15-17 on the second length). I'm guessing I should expect an average 16 strokes/length at pace... is that too many, too few? I don't know... I guess I need to see how the stroke holds up as I move to interval 100s.

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