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Thread: What to expect a USMS Stroke Clinic

  1. #1
    Active Member
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    Jan 2016
    Dover, DE

    What to expect a USMS Stroke Clinic

    So I'm signed up for my first Masters stroke clinic scheduled next month. I've swam with a coached Master's group for about 2 years now but was never previously on a swim team. (I learned to swim through a 197Os style Red Cross program.) I've competed in one very small swim meet and 8 open water events. In my two years with masters I've learned how to do flip turns, butterfly, streamlines, relearned breast the modern way, and improved my form with free and back. I've had four different coaches giving me sometimes contradictory advice on form. 2 of the coaches focus on form a decent amount the but the other two are conditioning oriented. I've signed up for the stroke clinic in hopes of getting more useful help on form since I'm not getting enough at my home pool.

    So my question is what should I expect and is there anything I should do to prepare? I'm a little nervous about whether I am fit enough to last all morning. My typical workouts are 75 minutes rather than half day and 2200-2500 yards - occasionally up to 3000.

    Any advice would be much appreciated

  2. #2
    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    s c
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    Re: What to expect a USMS Stroke Clinic

    As a stroke clinic, I would expect the class not to involve as much conditioning as in a workout. Definitely eat plenty beforehand, sometimes snacks are included. You may also be spending a great deal of time in the water listening to instruction, and if your body looses heat quickly, just in case, it might be a good idea to have your wetsuit on deck if you got one. No need to be nervous about level of conditioning.

  3. #3
    Very Active Member Gary P's Avatar
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    Sep 2014
    Monticello, IL

    Re: What to expect a USMS Stroke Clinic

    I just did a USMS stroke clinic in November. 4 hours sounds like a long day, but it's not a physically demanding course at all. If you can do a 75 minute, +/-2500y workout, you have more than enough stamina for the clinic. Other than the initial warmup, you will only be swimming 25's, with plenty of rest, and mostly with fins. The format goes more or less like this:

    -Drill demonstration
    -Swim a 25 doing the drill
    -Plenty of rest while the on-deck instructors (1 per lane) dole out individual feedback
    -Swim another 25 doing the drill
    -More individual feedback
    -If the primary instructor thinks the majority of the people understand the drill, he/she will move on to demonstrating the next drill in the progression. If not, he/she will have the group do another pair of 25's to cement the current drill.

    The majority of the clinic will be focused on freestyle, although all 4 strokes will be addressed.

    I would consider myself an advanced swimmer. I competed seriously as teen in the 80's, and came back to competitive swimming through USMS about 3 1/2 years ago. I saw great improvements in the first year, culminating in an 11th place AG finish in the 400M free at the 2015 Summer Nats. After that, though, my performance plateaued, and I went 2 years without any breakthroughs in my core events. I recognized that the only remaining opportunity to get faster was through technique improvements, as I'd hit the limit of time I could devote to conditioning. My Masters Team coach is a great leader, team builder, encourager, and is good at helping beginner swimmers improve. She's been unable, however, to give me the feedback I've needed to fine-tune my stroke. I was seeing minimal gains trying to self-diagnose and self-coach technique, so I signed up for the clinic.

    I enjoyed a near immediate ~2 second/100y improvement in my long distance freestyle pace. The clinic only just touched on butterfly, but the "butterfly specialist" coach accommodated my request for some quick one-on-one feedback at the end of the clinic. My butterfly sprint speed hasn't really improved, but, using the feedback I received, and the drills presented, I have retooled my fly stroke to enable much greater endurance. I continue to use parts of the freestyle or butterfly drill progressions in my warm up ahead of any race-pace training sets.

    I would HIGHLY recommend the clinic to just about anyone of any skill level above outright "beginner."
    Last edited by Gary P; January 11th, 2018 at 08:51 PM.

  4. #4
    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    Memphis, TN
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    Re: What to expect a USMS Stroke Clinic

    I echo a lot of what Gary P says. The good thing about having different coaches is getting a little different perspective from each one. Sometimes a coach will tell you something, but you're not ready to hear it and so another coach will hit it a different way that will resonate. It goes true with both technique and endurance. You learn from each one.

    And the clinics that I've been involved with are back and forth with on deck teaching/discussion to learning in the water. You'll be surprised at how quickly the four hours will go by and how much you'll learn. Another thing is if you get an opportunity to do an immersion clinic - one that runs a couple of days (like the Gary Hall clinics or whatever), you get some intensive training. I saw major changes in my stroke/times after that and have been able to hold these changes.

    Bottom line, don't be nervous. There are people of all skill levels who will be there with different needs/perspectives. You'll get a lot out of it and the best part is meeting some new peeps along the way.
    "If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to meet it." - Jonathan Winters, actor and comedian

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