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Thread: Advice please

  1. #1
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    Advice please

    * Edit. This Coach is a very good coach but unfortunately she only coached our club for a few days which is why l wasn't able to speak directly to her. I am thankful that she was able to bring attention to my daughter's problem so that we can try and do something to fix it.

    My daughter started squad training 3 years ago and typically trains 2 to 3 sessions per week. Although she doesn't train a lot, she does manage to get State times for her 50 Freestyle and 50 Backstroke.
    So this year she has decided to up her training and commit to giving her swimming 100 percent.
    Now her issue is... her stroke rate is 38 strokes per minute. (And her new/temporary coach had an absolute fit when she told her to sprint the length of the pool and saw her "slow arms"
    The thing is, she keeps pace with the other kids and makes her targets but looks to be in "cruise mode" (like she isn't trying)
    This is the first coach to ever pull her up on it and lm at a loss that nobody has mentioned it before. The "temp" coach wants her to swim at least a 58.Is that realistic? Is it possible to change your swimming style that much?Would a swim temp trainer be a good way to get her to move her arms faster or is there another way 🤔
    Feeling concerned
    Last edited by Swimfit; October 11th, 2018 at 04:27 PM. Reason: Clarification

  2. #2
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    Re: Advice please

    I'm pretty much uninformed about racing.

    My coach stressed that minimizing stroke count (number of strokes to go 25 yds) was a worthwhile goal for me. Like "the most important goal".

    I am p shocked to hear of a coach pushing the other direction. Although there are differences between middle-aged men swimming across lakes and adolescent girls sprinting, for sure.

    It might be that increasing your daughter's fitness and strength so she could use her current technique and go a bit faster with faster strokes is a worthwhile goal?

    If it were my kid, I'd certainly want a knowledgable 2nd opinion. (Like maybe a coach from the nearest swimming powerhouse college?) If she's getting State times (I'm guessing you mean state champ contender?), there is a possibility that this coach could wreck her mojo.

    I'm topping this because I KNOW there are some very knowledgable people that come by occasionally. I'm interested in hearing what they say.

  3. #3
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Advice please

    I think what the coach said is far less important than how she said it. She screamed at your daughter for that? First of all, her behavior was completely inappropriate, especially since your daughter wasn't doing anything wrong. If your daughter had started a fight with another teammate or had misbehaved in a horrible way, I still don't think "screaming" would be as appropriate as a very sternly-delivered lecture.

    Before you feel concerned about your daughter's stroke, I would find her another coach!
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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Advice please

    The only things I can think of to increase stroke rate are:
    1- Shorten the catch
    2- Pull and recover arms faster (without destroying joints). This is done with replacing some aerobic swimming with sprint based training, like 15m all-out efforts with several minutes rest, lifting weights for strength (if ready for it).
    3- Kick faster. Do more kicking.

    To go faster at same distance per stroke is with faster moving arms. Maybe the coach believes this can happen?

  5. #5
    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Advice please

    Every coach has a different swimming philosophy, but the approach that your daughter's coach took towards her is something of concern. You can certainly talk to the coach directly about the attitude that you described her taking towards your daughter, in addition to her philosophy towards swimming. Best of luck.

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    Re: Advice please

    From what I've read here, efficiency is important in terms of stroke development, so if she's keeping up with the other kids at a slower count, she sounds like she's moving efficiently.

    I agree with Elaine about the coach's attitude. Is this coach new to coaching? New to coaching this age group? This is not an acceptable way to express to a player/swimmer/student that you want them to modify their technique.

  7. #7
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    Re: Advice please

    Swimfit,

    The coach's approach is something others have commented on, so not going there.

    A tempo trainer will not help her with increasing her tempo - unless the coach and your daughter can determine what is keeping your daughter from increasing her tempo. I have been able to get swimmers to increase tempo (without losing distance per stroke) in several ways ranging from a slightly earlier hand entry to a slight change in body position to a faster tighter kick. Without video though, it is impossible to offer recommendations.

    Having said that, when a swimmer cannot change tempo, I have found it is usually because they lay their arm on the surface of the water, swim fairly flat, and have an overly developed catch-up stroke. All three of these put the swimmer in a poor position to generate any power - something girls have trouble with anyway.

    Although this might be tough, your daughter should ask the coach to help her with specific physical changes to make to increase her tempo. Just telling a swimmer to turn over faster is pointless and, just a guess, probably means the coach has little understanding of the physics involved as it relates specifically to your daughter.

  8. #8
    Active Member airborne18th's Avatar
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    Re: Advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimfit View Post
    My daughter started squad training 3 years ago and typically trains 2 to 3 sessions per week. Although she doesn't train a lot, she does manage to get State times for her 50 Freestyle and 50 Backstroke.
    So this year she has decided to up her training and commit to giving her swimming 100 percent.
    Now her issue is... her stroke rate is 38 strokes per minute. (And her new coach had an absolute fit when she told her to sprint the length of the pool and saw her "slow arms" She screamed at her then made her get out of the pool and rotate her arms "fast")
    The thing is, she keeps pace with the other kids and makes her targets but looks to be in "cruise mode" (like she isn't trying)
    This is the first coach to ever pull her up on it and lm at a loss that nobody has mentioned it before. The new coach wants her to swim at least a 58.Is that realistic? Is it possible to change your swimming style that much?Would a swim temp trainer be a good way to get her to move her arms faster or is there another way 樂
    Feeling concerned
    These are all good questions for your daughter's coach. I don't know her age, but the approach taken by the coach is not uncommon unfortunately. Sprinting is a completely different animal. and high stroke rates are the norm, while trying to lose as little distance per stroke in the process.

    https://www.usaswimming.org/docs/def...e.pdf?sfvrsn=4
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  9. #9
    Very Active Member Mark Usher's Avatar
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    Re: Advice please

    With all due respect, if you're questioning the coach's methods or approach, then you should be talking to the coach privately, not second-guessing her on a public forum.

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    Re: Advice please

    This coach is very experienced. She stepped in and trained my daughter's squad cos our coach had time off. The coach doesnt know my daughter or how old she is. I guess she asked them to "sprint" and she prob thought my daughter wasn't putting the effort in. She is only 13 but is about 5 11 so looks a lot older.

  11. #11
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    Re: Advice please

    Swimfit - thanks for coming back. I was afraid all of our VaLuAbLe AdViCe would be for nought.

    Sounds like this could be worked out with a bit of communication.

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    Re: Advice please

    Swimfit,

    After seeing that your daughter is 5'11", I stand by my earlier post - even without seeing her swim. I will go out on a limb and guess she has pretty long arms (34-35" sleeve) and narrow shoulders (meaning she has not developed much upper body strength). If she swims freestyle by laying her arm on the surface of the water, recovering with a very bent elbow (from doing finger tip drag drills) and has any kind of catch-up stroke, she will have an incredibly hard time increasing her tempo.

    Let me know if I am right about the three things I mentioned. if I am, I can tell you/her how to improve her tempo without sacrificing distance per stroke.

    If her coach is as experienced as you say, she this stuff and should have offered ways to improve.


    Paul Windrath

  13. #13
    Active Member airborne18th's Avatar
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    Re: Advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimfit View Post
    This coach is very experienced. She stepped in and trained my daughter's squad cos our coach had time off. The coach doesnt know my daughter or how old she is. I guess she asked them to "sprint" and she prob thought my daughter wasn't putting the effort in. She is only 13 but is about 5 11 so looks a lot older.
    13 is a good age to start getting serious about any sport. Pre-puberty athletic development is very limited. Now good coaching makes a difference, and for the next few years. The interesting part is that this coach actually counted your daughters stroke rate. So when this coach is done with her week of filling in does your daughter go back to the coach who didn't pay attention?
    TSAC-F,Swim Speed Secrets - STGRID

  14. #14
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    Re: Advice please

    Hi Paul, lm pretty sure your spot on.
    My daughter's stroke is very very long and "pretty" to watch. And yes it does look a lot more like catch up than it should.
    She is actually very strong and her kick is really good. When they do strength training drills such as using one arm, she excels.

    Unfortunately the coach that pulled my daughter up on her stroke rate was only a temporary coach. She is actually an awesome coach and l wasn't worried about how she approached my daughter at all. My concern is only that previous coaches haven't brought it up and tried to sort it out before now.

    Quote Originally Posted by MickYoung View Post
    Swimfit - thanks for coming back. I was afraid all of our VaLuAbLe AdViCe would be for nought.

    Sounds like this could be worked out with a bit of communication.
    Quote Originally Posted by Windrath View Post
    Swimfit,

    After seeing that your daughter is 5'11", I stand by my earlier post - even without seeing her swim. I will go out on a limb and guess she has pretty long arms (34-35" sleeve) and narrow shoulders (meaning she has not developed much upper body strength). If she swims freestyle by laying her arm on the surface of the water, recovering with a very bent elbow (from doing finger tip drag drills) and has any kind of catch-up stroke, she will have an incredibly hard time increasing her tempo.

    Let me know if I am right about the three things I mentioned. if I am, I can tell you/her how to improve her tempo without sacrificing distance per stroke.

    If her coach is as experienced as you say, she this stuff and should have offered ways to improve.


    Paul Windrath

  15. #15
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    Re: Advice please

    I'm hearing you, l would love for the temp coach to be my daughter's coach.
    Quote Originally Posted by MickYoung View Post
    Swimfit - thanks for coming back. I was afraid all of our VaLuAbLe AdViCe would be for nought.

    Sounds like this could be worked out with a bit of communication.
    Quote Originally Posted by __steve__ View Post
    The only things I can think of to increase stroke rate are:
    1- Shorten the catch
    2- Pull and recover arms faster (without destroying joints). This is done with replacing some aerobic swimming with sprint based training, like 15m all-out efforts with several minutes rest, lifting weights for strength (if ready for it).
    3- Kick faster. Do more kicking.

    To go faster at same distance per stroke is with faster moving arms. Maybe the coach believes this can happen?
    Quote Originally Posted by airborne18th View Post
    13 is a good age to start getting serious about any sport. Pre-puberty athletic development is very limited. Now good coaching makes a difference, and for the next few years. The interesting part is that this coach actually counted your daughters stroke rate. So when this coach is done with her week of filling in does your daughter go back to the coach who didn't pay attention?

  16. #16
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    Re: Advice please

    Swimfit,

    Thanks for the info. Having a strong kick - which I hope means a continuous 6 beat kick - is important. And, while strength helps, it is not the primary factor when it comes to increasing stroke tempo.

    Sometimes coaches, trying to get swimmers to lengthen their freestyle, tell them to reach out in front of them. Doing catch-up stroke drill is common and it results in the swimmer's arm staying at the surface of the water while the other arm is recovering. This leads to dead spots in the stroke when the only propulsion is the legs. It leads to slower stroke tempo.

    If this is what your daughter is doing she should work on driving her hand through the surface of the water and immediately start pushing water down. She should not have to shorten her catch very much. This will result is an arm pull with less elbow bend and less early vertical forearm and less catch-up. She may even develop a more straight arm/windmill recovery with is also ok. This will feel really awkward at first and it is very tiring because there is no "rest/dead" point in the stroke. And, she will either have to breathe less or figure out how to fit the breath into the smaller window of time when she can breathe.

    She will want to do this without starting the recovery sooner - she should still be finishing her stroke with her hand exiting the water at mid-thigh and as straight an arm as possible.


    Caveat to the above. This is a very different stroke than she will be used to. Pure sprint technique, as I described above, is good for 50s - maybe 100s. It is NOT efficiency based and is entirely anaerobic. When you swim longer distances, efficiency becomes more important. So, two different techniques are involved. This is all physics - if you want to know more about the physics, I can do that, but it might bore other readers.

    Good Luck

  17. #17
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    Re: Advice please

    Thanks Windrath, l was afraid there would be a huge change in technique needed😟 It sounds like my daughter is going to have her work cut out for her over the next few months.
    I guess the bright side is that she has developed a killer kick by pushing herself through all those dead spots over the years 😝
    I found this article, lm guessing it's pretty relevant.
    https://www.precisionhydration.com/b...icient-swimmer

  18. #18
    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Advice please

    good drill to remove any catch-up in stroke is doing freestyle with the head up and dolphin kick. It is exhausting but fast, 15 - 25m effort with good rest. forces you to move your arms fast

  19. #19
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    Re: Advice please

    Swinfit,

    Yes, the article you found is pretty spot on. An important aspect of this is to accept the idea that freestyle technique is not "one size fits all." Your daughter may follow the in the steps of Ian Thorpe and Hans Fassnacht (WR 1500 free in the early 70s) who both have significant catch-up strokes AND powerful outboard engines for legs.

    Your daughter needs to understand that her stroke is NOT bad - just self-limiting. She needs an on-deck coach who understands what needs to change and provide consistent, daily feedback and help her manage the frustration of the change not happening after a couple of 50s.

    Again, going out on a limb with a suggestion - I would have her experiment with swimming long distances at 70% effort without kicking (use a pull buoy) with an emphasis on more hip and torso rotation. When it looks like she has adjusted to less catch-up, let her try to fit her legs into the stroke instead of her arms fitting into the kick.

    Also, playing stroke games is always fun for the kids. Have her try to do 50 strokes in 25 yards, do chicken wing, swim like a water spider, etc.. The better she does at swimming lots of different ways, the better she will become at making changes when the time comes.

    Good Luck!

  20. #20
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    Re: Advice please

    Wow, thank you to everybody who has shared their thoughts and for the awesome advice. I now have a much better understanding of how a slow stroke rotation inhibits a swimmer and ways to help my daughter speed it up.
    I will definately speak to my daughter's coach now that l have a clearer picture of the changes that need to be made.
    My daughter will be attending a weekend camp in December where they video and analyse each stroke and give feedback which will be great. Hopefully she will of made some headway by then.
    QUOTE=__steve__;329115]good drill to remove any catch-up in stroke is doing freestyle with the head up and dolphin kick. It is exhausting but fast, 15 - 25m effort with good rest. forces you to move your arms fast[/QUOTE]

    Quote Originally Posted by Windrath View Post
    Swinfit,

    Yes, the article you found is pretty spot on. An important aspect of this is to accept the idea that freestyle technique is not "one size fits all." Your daughter may follow the in the steps of Ian Thorpe and Hans Fassnacht (WR 1500 free in the early 70s) who both have significant catch-up strokes AND powerful outboard engines for legs.

    Your daughter needs to understand that her stroke is NOT bad - just self-limiting. She needs an on-deck coach who understands what needs to change and provide consistent, daily feedback and help her manage the frustration of the change not happening after a couple of 50s.

    Again, going out on a limb with a suggestion - I would have her experiment with swimming long distances at 70% effort without kicking (use a pull buoy) with an emphasis on more hip and torso rotation. When it looks like she has adjusted to less catch-up, let her try to fit her legs into the stroke instead of her arms fitting into the kick.

    Also, playing stroke games is always fun for the kids. Have her try to do 50 strokes in 25 yards, do chicken wing, swim like a water spider, etc.. The better she does at swimming lots of different ways, the better she will become at making changes when the time comes.

    Good Luck!

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