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Thread: A question about technique vs strength

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    A question about technique vs strength

    For a 54-year old (that's me), which is more critical to limit the potential swim speed between flawed technique and unathletic strength?

    Well, I'll actually try to improve both. However, many people around me mainly focus on swimming more laps and gym workout, while don't bother about improving their technique at all, despite their techniques being far from efficient.
    Last edited by buea; October 21st, 2019 at 04:24 AM.

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by buea View Post
    Well, I'll actually try to improve both. However, many people around me mainly focus on swimming more laps and gym workout, while don't bother about improving their technique at all, despite their techniques being far from efficient.
    Are you swimming with a team, or solo? I swim solo, following workouts posted here. My observation is exactly like yours, most people just swim laps. I have tried to give pointers to a few who I have gotten to know over seeing them at the pool constantly. A couple are triathletes, so they are open to instruction. Most just want to burn calories. At the end of hte day, I have found that I have to make my own yardstick. Biggest ones are times I can hit intervals on and stroke efficiency (DPS).

    I find that the two will come together. A good efficient technique absolutely requires good strength. Maintaining it requires stamina. Be patient, it will come, but it will take a couple of years.

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    I tend to agree with 67 above. Some people just don't care much about technique and just want to be moving in order to burn the calories and/or gain the health benefits of exercise. Or, in other words, they are swimming ("moving") for the health benefits and not necessarily to get faster, or more efficient.

    At my pool, which I also lifeguard at part-time, we have the usual contrast of swimmers. For example: There is one woman (actually a friend) who is very accomplished. She has held (and currently holds) multiple USMS age group world records. She is a certified level 3 USMS coach (and also lifeguards with us). During her own workouts, she is constantly giving tips and advice to swimmers in adjacent lanes (if they want it). She's very friendly, and they know her pedigree and are generally receptive to her. But, there is one woman about her same age who is a terrible swimmer and just won't accept her advice. When I say terrible swimmer...I mean her crawl stroke takes her just over a minute to swim one 25 meter length of the pool. Her stroke rate is about the same as the first woman...yet she's really just thrashing...not pulling much. BUT, she swims steadily for an hour-and-a-half and completes only about a mile or so. She's "moving"...getting the exercise she wants...but it just isn't efficient. The first woman has tried to help her to swim at least a little more efficiently but she just doesn't think she needs it saying "My stroke rate is the same as yours." But, if all she's seeking are the benefits of exercise, and not getting faster/efficient...I can't argue much. It's just frustrating to watch her swim.

    Dan

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by 67King View Post
    Are you swimming with a team, or solo? ...

    I find that the two will come together. A good efficient technique absolutely requires good strength. Maintaining it requires stamina. Be patient, it will come, but it will take a couple of years.
    I swim solo, but mostly not alone in the pool. So I observe and chat with a few others. However, I rarely see them specifically work on technique. I personally feel that I shouldn't ingrain my flawed technique by repeating it over and over. But I also want to get fitter, so a little dilemma.

    Your conclusion is interesting, and I agree.

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    I'm 100% in the technique camp. OK, well, maybe 95%, but I have swum competitively for the last ~47 years and spent maybe a max of 5% of my training time focused on strength outside of the pool. If you're looking to swim more efficiently and effectively, focus on technique in the pool, training in the pool ... get that right as the #1 priority.

    Now, there are other reasons to do "dryland" work for overall health and functional fitness, but don't sacrifice pool technique and swimming as your primary form of training if swimming fast is your primary goal.

    Patrick Brundage

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by ForceDJ View Post
    I tend to agree with 67 above. Some people just don't care much about technique and just want to be moving in order to burn the calories and/or gain the health benefits of exercise. Or, in other words, they are swimming ("moving") for the health benefits and not necessarily to get faster, or more efficient.
    ...

    Dan
    I perfectly understand your point, and those exercisers truly get abundance of health benefits.

    However, most of the many that I mentioned were practicing for triathlon. They were "training", but with a mindset that all they need to do is to swim continuously without stoping for more and more miles. A few of them earn pretty good 1k PB training this way diligently, although I think that they can go faster if improve technique.
    Last edited by buea; October 21st, 2019 at 12:23 PM.

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb View Post
    I'm 100% in the technique camp. OK, well, maybe 95%, but I have swum competitively for the last ~47 years and spent maybe a max of 5% of my training time focused on strength outside of the pool. If you're looking to swim more efficiently and effectively, focus on technique in the pool, training in the pool ... get that right as the #1 priority.

    Now, there are other reasons to do "dryland" work for overall health and functional fitness, but don't sacrifice pool technique and swimming as your primary form of training if swimming fast is your primary goal.

    Patrick Brundage
    Agree, work on technique and conditioning will happen. Work on conditioning without working on technique and you just get bad habits. Good technique is just much faster than bad.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb View Post
    I'm 100% in the technique camp. OK, well, maybe 95%, but I have swum competitively for the last ~47 years and spent maybe a max of 5% of my training time focused on strength outside of the pool. If you're looking to swim more efficiently and effectively, focus on technique in the pool, training in the pool ... get that right as the #1 priority.

    Now, there are other reasons to do "dryland" work for overall health and functional fitness, but don't sacrifice pool technique and swimming as your primary form of training if swimming fast is your primary goal.

    Patrick Brundage
    Admittedly, my inner desire is to go your route, as it's more fun

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Stark View Post
    Agree, work on technique and conditioning will happen. Work on conditioning without working on technique and you just get bad habits. Good technique is just much faster than bad.
    Make sense!

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Definitely technique over sheer strength. When I coached hockey, we taught kids to do it slowly, but correctly, then once they had the skill down, let them speed up while continuing to advise their technique. Efficiency makes you faster by default, I think.

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by buea View Post
    I swim solo, but mostly not alone in the pool. So I observe and chat with a few others. However, I rarely see them specifically work on technique. I personally feel that I shouldn't ingrain my flawed technique by repeating it over and over. But I also want to get fitter, so a little dilemma.
    Work on your technique first. Slow down if you need to. Watch videos, I love watching Gary Hall Sr's videos. While working on technique, use DPS as a surrogate to measure performance. On my distance tempo stuff, my DPS has improved over 40% in the couple of years since I started. You'll get to a point where you feel your stroke going to crap.

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by buea View Post
    However, most of the many that I mentioned were practicing for triathlon. They were "training", but with a mindset that all they need to do is to swim continuously without stoping for more and more miles. A few of them earn pretty good 1k PB training this way diligently, although I think that they can go faster if improve technique.
    The guys I mentioned want to get better, and work on it a little. However, it is just impractical to put too much effort into swimming. You'll spend, what, 15% of the time swimming, and 85% on the other two? Most of the triathletes I've talked to swim only once a week, which as we all know, isn't enough to even hold a decent stroke together.

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by 67King View Post
    .... However, it is just impractical to put too much effort into swimming. You'll spend, what, 15% of the time swimming, and 85% on the other two? ....
    The last two years I have helped out with a Tri-training program, and I alway make them start out with a lot of simple technique drills before we try to build yards. Too many Tri folks think they can just bull thru the swim and then catch up. I have a Tri buddy who always says... "you may not win with the swim, but you sure can lose with a bad one!"
    Last edited by Redbird Alum; October 21st, 2019 at 09:05 PM. Reason: spelling!


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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    When I was in my 40ís lifting weights helped me swim faster. Now that Iím in my 50ís I lift weights to rehabilitate injuries I had in my 40ís from all the trauma I caused neglecting technique.

    Form is always first and foremost

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Redbird Alum View Post
    The last two years I have helped out with a Tri-training program, and I alway make them start out with a lot of simple technique drills before we try to build yards. Too many Tri folks think they can just bull thru the swim and then catch up. I have a Tri buddy who always says... "you may not win with the swim, but you sure can lose with a bad one!"
    I've heard similar, you can't win a tri on the swim, but you can lose it on the swim. I've taken that to mean you can exhaust yourself on it, and have nothing left. I mean, you can only get a few minutes lead over the rest of the pack, which can be made up for in a few miles of teh run. Racing (auto) analogy - you can't win a race on the first turn, but you can lose it on the first turn (by wrecking).

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Quote Originally Posted by __steve__ View Post
    When I was in my 40ís lifting weights helped me swim faster. Now that Iím in my 50ís I lift weights to rehabilitate injuries I had in my 40ís from all the trauma I caused neglecting technique.

    Form is always first and foremost
    An interesting insight from experience. Definitely something to be aware of.
    Last edited by buea; October 21st, 2019 at 11:49 PM.

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    While an overwhelming number of coached workouts portray conditioning as the most important aspect of swimming, technique is by far the most important. In fact technique is number one, the mental aspect of swimming i.e., race strategy, race plan, visualization, etc is the second most important and conditioning is third in importance. This according to Dr. Brent Rushall, the guru of ULtra Short Race Pace Training.
    Glenn Gruber

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Definitely technique over sheer strength.Change the sport to pole vaulting and think about it!

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    Another aspect of technique but different to form (I guess) is the feel of water

    Quote Originally Posted by buea View Post
    An interesting insight from experience.
    Thanks
    My experience is still developing, it dates back just a decade.

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    Re: A question about technique vs strength

    I really think technique. My strength is terrible, I'm fairly lazy at masters workouts (often get out at 2500 yds to get to work or because I'm beat) and yet I will always have a base speed that comes from technique. Not even great technique, just the basic muscle memory of decades of swimming. I'm sure strength would help me improve but it's easier to work on technique

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