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Thread: Speed Zone

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    Speed Zone

    Cesar Cielo is fastest swimmer in the world -- 25 yards in 8.88 to the foot -- he was just trying to "maintain" on the second 25...

    There are 3 ways to swim faster in any given race:

    1) Improve your technique -- if you become more effecient in your technique, your times will drop across the board

    2) Maintain a pace as close as possible to maximum speed -- You can hold your maximum speed for 6-8 seconds. There are no swim races of that length - so when training for any swimming race (50 up the mile), you are trying to maintain a pace as close to your maximum speed as possible.

    3) Get Faster = improve your maximum speed

    I would say on average, Masters swimmers (and age-groupers) spend their in the water workout season according to the following breakdown (rough guess):

    1) Improving technique = 20-30%
    2) Maintaining close to max = 65-79%
    3) Improving Max Speed = 1-5%

    Think about it -- if you swim 4-5 times per week, that equals about 20 hours a month. Did you spend more than a full hour in October on maximum speed ?

    This Thread is all about Category 3 -- Improving your Max Speed --

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    Re: Speed Zone

    So how do you get faster ?

    Again - it's actually pretty simple - there are 2 ways to improve your maximum speed:

    A) More distance per stroke while maintaining the same stroke rate. Part of this is usually technique - but there are other ways - like strength.

    B) Swim with a higher stroke rate, while maintaining the same distance per stroke

    For me - my stroke rate is simply too low. At maximum speed, my stroke rate is 52 -- meaning it takes me about 1.14 seconds to complete a full cycle (left and right arm - some watches have a stroke count feature or you can have somebody time 2-3 full cycles; it's more accurate than timing just one).

    Some of this depends of course on your height and arm length - but I just watched Matt Grevers (he is 3 inches taller than me) go at a rate of above 60 in his 50 Free.

    My new best friend for the Spring season will no doubt be the tempo trainer -- I already started working with it this week even though I have one more fun race this weekend. I am just planning the Season now - so more to come

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Erik,
    Good topic. Obviously I'm interested.

    One thought re max speed and stroke tempo: For me, kick tempo often affects stroke tempo, i.e. the faster the kick tempo, the faster the stoke tempo. So you might want to work on quick feet. One way I do this is with vertical kick. I find the more "resistance", such as holding a diving brick out of the water, the quicker the tempo. If the resistance is very high I can only do short bursts of up to 10 seconds.

    Give it a try sometime and let me know what you think.

    Rich

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    Re: Speed Zone

    kick tempo often affects stroke tempo
    Amen -- this is something I will have to focus on much more. I come from the 200 Free swimming almost a catch-up stroke with a very strong kick - the kick really determines my speed. However - for sprinting this does not work any more (at least for me at the moment) - I now have to basically intentionally try to ignore my kick and just focus on arm speed (thinking the legs will follow the arms and go automatic).

    That is less than ideal - so I will have to increase my foot speed - and do the vertical kicking.

    Here is favorite drill for learning to use your legs while sprinting --

    Start sprint swimming for 6-8 strokes and then stop using your arms (just leave them in the front) - but continue with the same kick you were using while sprint swimming. Are your legs just splashing or are they driving you forward ? Does the kick feel different from a kick only sprint ? Do it the other way around - start kicking turn it into sprint swimming ? Go sprint swim / Kick / sprint swim all within a 25 --- and please - all at full speed and no more than a 25.

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    Re: Speed Zone

    I received a question about the tempo trainer and thought other people may be interested:

    I use the tempo trainer quite a bit - and I think it's one of the best tools out there for all swimmers -- but you have to do some work prior to using it.

    You must learn all about your stroke rate / turnover during races and in practice. Some people need to lengthen their stroke (majority falls into this category) and some people want to shorten their stroke. No matter what - you have to know where you are at and where you would like to go.

    You should either have a video of one of your races or have a coach time your stroke rates on each 25 of the race (we are not talking anything above a 100 on this thread). Some watches have a stroke rate already in -- or you can just measure 2 full cycles - easiest when one hand enters the water.

    My stroke rate for a 100 is about 46-48 -- for a 50 I can get into the low 50s. That means my turnover is 48 cycles per minute or each cycle is 1.25 seconds. Let's say, I want to increase my turnover to 54 -- that would be 1.11 seconds per cycle (that's a huge switch). I would set my tempo trainer 55 and swim race pace 25s. I put it behind my ear under the cap - that is the only place I can hear it at full sprint (even that is difficult).

    Now there is a trade-off -- I will not be able to get the same distance per stroke out of each of my strokes -- if I go for such a big increase (would be 12.5% increase) >> if I could, I would have just shaved a second off each 25.

    I take 9 cycles per 25 meters - but I do streamline and do the turn about 1 meter out - so let's say I swim 20 meters with those 9 cycles or 2.22 meters per stroke - and I swim the 20 meters in 9x1.25 = 11.25 seconds. So let's say with my NEW turnover I lose about 10% of my stroke length. Now I have to do 10 cycles for my 20 meters of swimming - but I complete them in 10x1.11 = 11.11 seconds >>>> I just took 0.14 seconds off my 25 !!!

    I need to get the video of one my races this weekend - and I should have better numbers to shoot for - but that is the general principle.

    1 more things: You will curse at the little beeper, especially going long-course you will always feel like the thing is speeding up in the second 25 of a lap

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by ehoch View Post
    Start sprint swimming for 6-8 strokes and then stop using your arms (just leave them in the front) - but continue with the same kick you were using while sprint swimming. Are your legs just splashing or are they driving you forward ? Does the kick feel different from a kick only sprint ? Do it the other way around - start kicking turn it into sprint swimming ? Go sprint swim / Kick / sprint swim all within a 25 --- and please - all at full speed and no more than a 25.
    Erik,

    To speak a little more to this, I have both my age-groupers and master's swimmers do something similar to this in order to gain a better sense of their timing for the stroke. I have them sprint 25 legs with easy arms, sprint 25 arms with easy legs, then sprint 50 full stroke. Obviously, depending on the swimmer's age and ability I alter the yardage and intensity, but it has had a significant impact in the fluidity of the stroke.

    I like where this post is going...keep it up!
    Andy Scherer
    Site Founder
    TheSwimmersCircle
    Head Coach
    Typhoon Swimming

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by ehoch View Post
    I received a question about the tempo trainer and thought other people may be interested:

    I use the tempo trainer quite a bit - and I think it's one of the best tools out there for all swimmers -- but you have to do some work prior to using it.
    Thanks for starting this thread and the advice so far. As a former distance swimmer determined to have some fun this SCY season sprinting, this is great. I've been told about the tempo timer and encouraged by one coach to get it. This might be the first "toy" I invest in. I've generally done well via stroke length, but never really focused on stroke rate.

    Mind you, while I do want to get more competitive in the 50/100, my longer term goal is still to be a faster mid-distance swimmer (200/500), but, for me to reach my goal times in those events, I figure I need to get "easy speed" for the first half of the race much more built into my muscle memory.

    One question for Erik: are you using the tempo timer throughout workout or only on your speed sets?

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    Re: Speed Zone

    One question for Erik: are you using the tempo timer throughout workout or only on your speed sets?
    I only use the tempo trainer during sets that I want to work on stroke rate. For me - that is sprint sets at the moment. However, if you want to lengthen your stroke in longer sets - you can use it during an aerobic main set. I know all about the limitations of a faster 200 / 500, because of "sprint problems".

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Where do you start to improve speed ?

    There is a lot of stuff out there you can utilize to increase your maximum speed. On land you can do basic dryland training all the way to advanced weight training. In the water, you can add parachutes, tennis shoes, t-shirts, fins, paddles, and power racks. You can work with a tempo trainer, increase foot speed / hand speed; use cordz to pull you or to swim against. That does not even list any specific sets.

    Here is a good starting point for all Speed Training - if you do nothing else:

    Twice a week after a good warm-up but BEFORE any other main set ---- 6-8 all out sprints of 10-25 yards. You need at least 60-90 seconds rest - you should feel fresh prior to each sprint. Take your time -- focus on something in your stroke -- if you have a coach to time you, that is great -- if not, you should still do the work.

    What if I swim with a team and they don't do this in the workout ?
    Option A - if it is a public pool, come 30 minutes early (remember - you can not do this after the workout) - warm-up and do the sprints.
    Option B - go to the end of your lane and do this during a regular set (let's say the set is 8x100 - do it during the first 15 yards of each 100). Let the coach know what you are doing - and don't get in the way of your lane mates. I spend a lot of time at the end of my lane.

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by pwbrundage View Post
    Thanks for starting this thread and the advice so far. As a former distance swimmer determined to have some fun this SCY season sprinting, this is great. I've been told about the tempo timer and encouraged by one coach to get it. This might be the first "toy" I invest in. I've generally done well via stroke length, but never really focused on stroke rate.

    Mind you, while I do want to get more competitive in the 50/100, my longer term goal is still to be a faster mid-distance swimmer (200/500), but, for me to reach my goal times in those events, I figure I need to get "easy speed" for the first half of the race much more built into my muscle memory.

    One question for Erik: are you using the tempo timer throughout workout or only on your speed sets?
    First things first...get your ass back in the pool and quit avoding my workouts!
    I crack myself up. It is jealousy. It is Boredom. I Did not accomplish enough when I was young, and I hate anybody faster/younger than me.

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Smith View Post
    First things first...get your ass back in the pool and quit avoding my workouts!
    He's "resting up" after Zones even though the lazy sprinters are back in the pool.

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    Re: Speed Zone

    First things first...get your ass back in the pool and quit avoding my workouts!
    Paul - Speaking of avoiding -- there was a meet last weekend. Is So-Cal too cold in the winter or were you crying because all your records went ...

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by ehoch View Post
    Paul - Speaking of avoiding -- there was a meet last weekend. Is So-Cal too cold in the winter or were you crying because all your records went ...

    Actually I was crying because I was stuck in meetings in Toronot for 4 days!

    And as long as ANYONE other than John takes down a record of mine I'm fine with it!
    I crack myself up. It is jealousy. It is Boredom. I Did not accomplish enough when I was young, and I hate anybody faster/younger than me.

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by pwbrundage View Post
    Thanks for starting this thread and the advice so far. As a former distance swimmer determined to have some fun this SCY season sprinting, this is great. I've been told about the tempo timer and encouraged by one coach to get it. This might be the first "toy" I invest in. I've generally done well via stroke length, but never really focused on stroke rate.

    Mind you, while I do want to get more competitive in the 50/100, my longer term goal is still to be a faster mid-distance swimmer (200/500), but, for me to reach my goal times in those events, I figure I need to get "easy speed" for the first half of the race much more built into my muscle memory.

    One question for Erik: are you using the tempo timer throughout workout or only on your speed sets?
    PWB, how's that USA-S registration thing going?

    If sprinting you want - you shall receive!

    Look up the Lost Dutchman meet. They offer the 4 50's, I think. It's right there at Cactus something or other pool in Chandler. Not too much of an investment of traveling plus I recommend blowing off finals. It's usually some time in mid Feb, so very complementary with USMS schedule.

    You could do this meet like a fast workout!

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Legs and speed are intertwined in the 50, 100 and 200 races, I am looking for suggestions on how to train your legs for speed in the longer distances?

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by chowmi View Post
    PWB, how's that USA-S registration thing going?

    If sprinting you want - you shall receive!

    Look up the Lost Dutchman meet. They offer the 4 50's, I think. It's right there at Cactus something or other pool in Chandler. Not too much of an investment of traveling plus I recommend blowing off finals. It's usually some time in mid Feb, so very complementary with USMS schedule.

    You could do this meet like a fast workout!
    Michelle,

    I haven't registered yet, but am contemplating a couple of events next spring/summer:

    • Grand Prix in Austin -- I gotta see if I can swing a business trip to Austin around this time and squeeze in an event or two.
    • Swimming World Cactus Classic LCM over Memorial Day @ ASU -- I'm going to post the meet flyer soon to the events forum to try to get some Masters' folks here, especially all of those guys who are bemoaning the loss of mens' college swimming. The meet directors / teams are working on arranging part of each entry fee to be donated to the foundation to save ASU Men's swimming.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    He's "resting up" after Zones even though the lazy sprinters are back in the pool.
    I'd rather think of it that my years of exceedingly exhausting distance workouts have left me with a "vacation deficit" that desperately needs to be balanced. Don't worry, though, am hitting weights/core on Monday and back in the pool on Tuesday.

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    Re: Speed Zone

    I've written alot about this topic
    Done a lot of speed training

    If you REALLY want to improve your speed
    here's the areas to work on

    1) Technique:
    there's an optimal way to position and move your body to go the fastest through the water
    start,
    dive,
    streamline
    SDK
    break out
    swimming
    turns
    touch

    in a 50 free
    how much time do you spend doing the start dive & SDK?
    how much distance do you cover?
    how much time of each practice do you spend working on your start dive & SDK?

    2) Swimming
    most swimming programs don't focus on developing maximum speed
    Really work to improve how fast you can swim and SDK

    3) Body Characteristics
    shape: fast swimmers tend to be lean and powerful
    strength: stronger swimmers are faster
    flexibility

    4. Equipment
    now more than ever the equipment you use matters.
    Swimmers need to test out different suits to figure out what works best

    5. Mental
    goals
    plans
    action
    self image
    IPS = Ideal Performance State, being psyched
    mental toughness,
    pain tolerance
    correct splitting / effort allocation
    1st & 2nd 25's of a 50 should be with in 0.25 - 0.50


    for me to swim faster I need to:
    1) get stronger
    2) lose 15 - 25 lbs &
    3) swim faster in practice &
    4) Correctly split my races

    Amaury Leveaux's WR SCM 50m FR
    http://vinovo.magnify.net/video/Amau...rld-Record-50m

    Milorad Cavic's 100 fl outstanding SDK
    http://vinovo.magnify.net/video/Milo...d-medal-100m-b

    Amaury LEVEAUX's 44.94 - New World Record
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzTKTDuVdYM


    think about how much time and distance in a 50 free is spent on
    Start, Dive, Streamline & SDK vs swimming freestyle

    How much of your training is spent working on those skills?
    Last edited by ande; December 15th, 2008 at 03:07 PM.

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Thanks Ande -

    Great tips. I am going on a vacation for 2 weeks - but here is my "end of the year" sprinting advice. Actually, I am taking this from one of our sprint heroes - Alxander Popov. While we are Masters swimmers and of course can not reach the volume mentioned in this article -- we can add the philosphy "Athletes must be able to swim fast anytime, any place, and under any condition"

    Importance of Competition/Race Experience
    One of Touretski’s core philosophies is that race velocity swimming and competition experience is crucial for elite athlete development. He feels that this stimulus is important for physical development, skill development, and psychological development. Athletes must be able to swim fast anytime, any place, and under any condition and that translates into consistency in their competitive performances. He emphasized several times that the training plan must include the correct amount of race rehearsal swims, and should be designed around the competition schedule not vice versa.
    The number of “starts” is tracked for each athlete during a season. A “start” is considered an off the blocks effort that is performed within 4% of the athletes goal time. It is not always performed under competitive conditions (approximately one third are not). He also incorporates an intense 10-day competition microcycle into training cycles, during which there are several “starts” in each practice session. The athletes also are required to compete in numerous events at the competitions the team attends (sometimes more than 15 starts a weekend).
    The key to Touretski’s interest in this component of training seemed to be research done in Russia on the training loads of track athletes. In this study they found that the most successful track sprinters in the world carried a competitive volume of 64,000 meters (between 1-4% of max velocity) a year. This lead him to convert the distance to a relative volume for swimmers (divided 64k by 4-swimming races take approximately 4 times as long for a similar distance) and come up with a target volume of 16,000 meters of race performance for sprinters each year. The goal is 100, 100 meter starts, and 100, 50 meter starts for Popov. They have attained this level two of the last three years.
    This was an area that Touretski pointed out the weakness of our college swimming as related to International competition. He pointed out that when Popov steps on the blocks at the Olympic for the 100 meter freestyle he will have 90+ starts in that event over the last 12 months at that relative performance level while the top American swimmers will likely have less than 10 starts at that level, and less then 20 total.
    The microcycle focusing on competition (see Appendix**) is 10 days long alternating 3 days on and 1 day off. The training is all race intensity usually beginning practice with a 600 warm-up followed by 1 dive effort then switching to pace work and broken swims.

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Erik,
    Outstanding article. I've got 15 months till I age up and I'm thinking of making this the basis for my training beginning in Jan. I've already calculated the speeds I'll need to attain in practice for my various events. I figure 100 efforts for 50's and 100 for 100's is the equivilant to about 2 efforts a week for each distance (100 / 52 weeks).

    enjoy your vacation.

    Rich

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    Re: Speed Zone

    Thanks Erik and Rich,

    Actually swimming the event you plan to race in your focus meet makes total sense.

    We become what we do.
    We want our bodies to adapt to the stress of racing.
    We want to train to race.
    Most people and programs train to train.

    Plus you have plenty of time and chances to experiment with
    variious SDKs, breathing and splitting to figure out
    what works best


    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Abrahams View Post
    Erik,
    Outstanding article. I've got 15 months till I age up and I'm thinking of making this the basis for my training beginning in Jan. I've already calculated the speeds I'll need to attain in practice for my various events. I figure 100 efforts for 50's and 100 for 100's is the equivilant to about 2 efforts a week for each distance (100 / 52 weeks).

    enjoy your vacation.

    Rich

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