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Thread: How to increase my stroke rate

  1. #21
    Very Active Member okoban's Avatar
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    Smile Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Sean, I did what you suggested today. Although it is mid-season I am better than last year's race season.
    I tried 200 free in 50m. pool, I did it 2 seconds faster than my personal best. On top of it, I felt better during and after the swim (my conditioning is good).
    I also did 50m. in 38seconds (1 second better than my personal best).
    I found a coach near the pool to have a look at my strokes. Her comment is, my strokes are not fully stretched back (I take out my arms from the water before completing the full-cycle). I have to work on late stage of the push (my hands past my hips). She said start, turns and kicking is good enough.
    Friday I will have my swimming video. There must be a lot of points to correct. I will share it in here if I can (technically).
    Thanks, Oguz

  2. #22
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Sounds like you are doing better. Good work. I had warned you about completing your stroke before lifting your elbow for recovery. I'd still be very interested in seeing the video.

    --Sean

  3. #23
    Very Active Member okoban's Avatar
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Hi Sean,
    I just came home from the pool. The head coach in my club recorded my freestyle. One good and one bad news:
    Bad news is: Unfortunately there were so many recordings in that tape, so he could not give it to me. Next time, when I think I corrected my errors, I will bring my own casette for recording and post it here.
    Good news: We watched the video together for half an hour back and forth from every angle and discussed my errors. My errors are so obvious.
    My strengths: (I hope I can explain it clearly) Hi elbow recovery, body roll to both sides, head position, arms stretched out in front.
    Weaknesses: 1. My hands enter the water with a wrong angle on the reverse side (going north, my body is in the middle of US, my left hand enters the water in N.York). The coach said my hi elbow style could trigger this error, the angle of my elbow in the recovery should not be that steep (at least that part looks like Popov's style, I don't wanna lose it anyway
    2. In the last part of the pull, I turn my hands inwards and lose the water that I already grabbed. You know that I do not push enough at the last part of the pull (and sometimes I do not complete my stroke, but in the recording I completed my strokes )
    3. In the last part of the pull, when my hands reach the shoulder level, my hands enters the borders of other side (my left hand goes to NY, my rigt goes to LA)
    4. My kicks are very large
    I will try to fix those errors and within a couple of weeks we will record it again. At least I learned where to focus. When I come to my first question (how to increase my stroke rate), I think I found the answer. My strokes are longer than they should be and the beginning and ending parts are just waste of time (no propolsion at all). (going to north, my right hand enters the water in Seattle, comes to NY, goes to LA). I understood that my hands like to travel between west and east, but they will learn to travel north to south instead, I hope they will like it.
    If you are not tired of my questions, we might continue, if you want to quit, please say it. I've learned a lot from you, thanks, thanks and thanks again.
    Oguz

  4. #24
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    1. My hands enter the water with a wrong angle on the reverse side (going north, my body is in the middle of US, my left hand enters the water in N.York). The coach said my hi elbow style could trigger this error, the angle of my elbow in the recovery should not be that steep (at least that part looks like Popov's style, I don't wanna lose it anyway


    Imagine a slice right down the middle of you, bisecting your nose vertically. This slice extends in front and behind you. It's a track, like on a monorail. When you swim, you should stay on the track. Your hands, when they enter, should not cross the track. Some recommend that the hands come in at a spot above the shoulder and in a slight bit, but I would recommend that the hands enter right next to the track, for improved streamlining.

    2. In the last part of the pull, I turn my hands inwards and lose the water that I already grabbed. You know that I do not push enough at the last part of the pull (and sometimes I do not complete my stroke, but in the recording I completed my strokes )

    Think of that part of the pull as phase two of the pull portion of the armstroke. Don't think of it as the finishing of one long duty to pull, but as a separate duty to pull.

    3. In the last part of the pull, when my hands reach the shoulder level, my hands enters the borders of other side (my left hand goes to NY, my rigt goes to LA)

    Are you turning completely on your side? I would recommend that only your shoulders do any large-scale shifting of body position. As one arm reaches for the extra little bit, the other begins to lift itself (elbow first) from the water. This naturally lends itself to the reaching shoulder dipping down a bit and the lifting shoulder rising up a bit. Your torso below the shoulders and everything thereafter should strive to stay on the breast-side down. I do know some coaches that do advise that swimmers flip completely to the side with every pull, but I don't think that pursuing this sort of stroke would help resolve your problem. (These coaches believe that the improved streamline positioning caused by turning to a side (you are thinner on your side) makes up for any massive (existing) streamline disruption that one would create by constantly thrashing side to side like that. I heartily disagree, but I'm not a kinesiologist. (Neither are they.))

    4. My kicks are very large

    Kicks that come all the way out of the water push air, for zero propulsion; a waste. Kicks that kick greater than (I'd say about) 10 degrees below the water line take too long to recover back to the water line and ruins your (from a lateral view (<) of the complete stroke) streamlining (as opposed to from an overhead (^) view). This is also a waste. Ideally, you need small, fast, forceful kicks that keep your legs more together than apart.

    I don't mind helping you out at all, Oguz.

    --Sean

  5. #25
    Very Active Member okoban's Avatar
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Hi Sean,
    I did my 6th sprint workout today.
    It was the best. My times are nearly the same, but I was more confident, I tried to keep good technique, not rush my pulls, and I finished all of them in time (even without cheating in hypoxics).

    You said: Imagine a slice right down the middle of you, bisecting your nose vertically....the hands enter right next to the track, for improved streamlining.
    • This explanation was really helpful, I always thought about it and I think I managed it.
    Think of that part of the pull as phase two of the pull portion .....
    • Sometimes I touched my thumb to my trunk at the end of my strokes to make sure to complete my strokes
    Are you turning completely on your side? I would recommend that only your shoulders do any large-scale shifting of body position.

    • I practiced the drills in the book 'fitness swimming by Emmett Hines', therefore I am turning nearly completely on my side when I swim slow, in sprint, I turn less (some hip rotation and more shoulder turn).

    • I did smaller and faster kicks in swimming and in kick sets. I realized that (as you said) smaller and faster kicks are better for my balance in swimming.
    I feel more powerful, thanks a lot

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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    touching your trunks with your thumb is a good drill, but don't confuse it for part of the real stroke.

    I would recommend that you try not to bob your hips too much while you swim freestyle.

    --Sean

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    Very Active Member geochuck's Avatar
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Down load your video on Google videos so we can all take a look.
    Keep it simple George Park
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  8. #28
    Very Active Member okoban's Avatar
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    Smile Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Hi George,
    I will put my swim video on the net, but the records are in a casette that the coach could not give to me (a lot of other recordings in the casette). I will request to have another recording within a couple of weeks on a DVD format (I will work to correct my errors first). I will be glad sharing it with you coaches. Thanks for your interest.

  9. #29
    Very Active Member okoban's Avatar
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    Smile Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Hi Sean,
    I did my 7th spriny set today.
    In fact, I tried it 2 days ago, but I was tired and could not finish it.
    Today's set was good enough. My times are not so different than the previous ones, but I managed to finish the first 4 kick sprints in 1:15 and the others in 1:20. Kick set is the most difficult one to me.
    At the end of the workout I tried a 50 sprint and I broke my record by 2 seconds: 36 seconds is the new record (slow enough to laugh at).
    There was a coach training the kids and she said my strokes are a bit better but still weak at the finish (end of stroke).
    So, I did a 10 minute additional set in 25 meter pool with hand paddles focusing on my stroke finish.
    My target is to be lower than 35 in this month for 50 sprint.
    Thanks, Oguz

  10. #30
    Very Active Member okoban's Avatar
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    I'm doing 4 workouts a week (1 or 2 sprint sets). It is very obvious that if I'm tired and didn't sleep enough, I can't finish the sprint sets within target. I did some easy workout today focusing on stroke finish and hand entry. I tried a 50 sprint and broke my record again (35 seconds is my new record). I think I can improve my 50 till I reach 31-32 seconds within a couple of months. At the start of my workout, my daughter filmed my strokes, but I could not save it in Youtube (I've tried everything and in the end it is erased completely ). Tomorrow I plan to go swimming again, I will try another recording.

  11. #31
    Very Active Member geochuck's Avatar
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Just watching a couple of short videos, Thorpe the underwater shot is as close to an I stroke that I have seen.

    http://www.eliteswimming.com/free5.shtml
    Keep it simple George Park
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Oguz,

    35 seconds, from where you were, is a very nice drop of time. However, no amount of effort at swimming progress is worth depriving yourself of a REM cycle or two each night. When you feel up to it, you should try sprinting a 200 free to see where you are these days on that. I would recommend doing this early in your workout.

    geochuck,

    So far as I understand, Thorpe is the very incarnation of the I Pull, according to kinesiologists.

    --Sean

  13. #33
    Very Active Member okoban's Avatar
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Hi Sean,
    you are right that I am forcing myself a bit , but you know no pain no gain .
    In the end, I managed to download a video , but it is poor quality (dark and no zoom). Last couple of strokes are a bit clear.
    George, the link you sent is very helpful, thanks.
    Any questions and comments?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwfbCBu88Zk

  14. #34
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    be careful with the application of the "no pain; no gain" cliche. too much of the pain does no one any good.

    i watched the video. you aren't finishing your arm strokes; you are pulling your elbow up before the finish of the arm thrust, and your reach for more water ends at the tip of your nose. i also think that you are exaggerating your high elbows a bit too much.

    think about your arm recovery like this:
    when you recover your arms, there are three options: 1) whipping your arms way out of the water windmill-style; 2) recovering under the water; and 3) going somewhere in between.

    1) if you pull your arms completely out of the water (windmill-style), you put too much weight on your body and consequently sink to a new equilibrium (unless you compensate by pulling and kicking harder).
    2) if you recover your arms under water, the force of your hands driving forward to the starting point of the pull will act as a push back; in effect, you will be taking a measure of pushing back for every two measures of pulling back. this would mean that your net profit from the use of your arms would be one measure of distance forward, as opposed to two without an underwater recovery costing a measure of distance.
    3) so, it is the compromise that best suits the most efficient form of recovery. as one arm finishes, the other arm reaches. then, the finishing arm raises its elbow just enough to get the entire forearm and hand outside of the water and then proceeds to the starting point while the starting arm begins its pull. the lifting of the elbow out of the water does cause the body to sink somewhat to a new equilibrium, but half so much as would be the case if the recovery was performed windmill style. fingertips may drag a bit in the water causing a bit of pushback, but probably not 1/20th of the pushback one would suffer with an underwater recovery.

    Thus, when performing an arm recovery, you have to think about the consequences of your style. yes, your arms during recovery do need to come out of the water, but they also need to stay as low as they can to prevent any unnecessary sinking. yes, coaches tell you to get your elbows up, but that is because they fear more the underwater recovery effects (coupled with the added detriment of a wider streamline that one might be tempted to perform in order to keep the elbows low) than the effects of diving to a deeper equilibrium point. rightly so. however, if you can get your elbows to lead your arm completely from the water while keeping the arm low to the water without creating a much wider streamline, then you're golden. it's a lot to consider, and that's why styles vary so much. however, i can tell you that a short reach, with a sort finish, and ultrahigh elbows is not an efficient armstroke.

    a thought: are you bending your wrist as you recover? (i couldn't tell) if your wrist is straight as it recovers, then that would require that you pull your elbows up higher to get your arms out. by bending your wrists as the arm recovers, the elbow won't have to get so high to get the arm out.

    overall, though, your stroke wasn't that bad. the critiques i am making of your stroke are more the criticisms i would offer a swim team swimmer, not a recreational swimmer. in other words, your stroke is a very competitive looking stroke overall.

    --Sean

  15. #35
    Very Active Member okoban's Avatar
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Thanks a lot coach,
    your critics are really meaningful. Maybe I mentioned before that I've applied the drills (hours and hours by myself) in the book 'fitness swimming' by coach Hines a couple of years ago. Before that, my style was worse. After applying the drills, my swimming golf score decreased by 20% (it is the most useful book I've ever read). I learned to stretch my arms in front, hip-snap, head position and hi elbow recovery.
    I did not realise that my hand entries were wrong and I am trying to fix it now. On the other hand, those drills do not include the stroke finish (Coach Hines does not care about the pull), so I am also trying to finish my strokes at the hips.
    I was really enjoying my swimming till I started competing and saw that I can not go faster.
    Now, with your help I understand that it is because:
    My hand entries are not proper
    My pull is not complete (finishing early)
    I have a very large S shape pull instead of an efficient I pull
    My kicks are too large and not powerful enough
    I did not have enough sprint sets in my workouts
    I will work hard to change those bad habits, but it will take some time. I think I should not take my sprint sets out of my workouts but minimize them to once (maybe twice) a week and focus on refining my technique.
    Thanks Sean you are a great coach , if I born again I hope I would start swimming in your supervision
    My best wishes

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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Oguz
    I'm joining this discussion a bit late and I see Sean has given much generous advice. Since your initial question was about increasing stroke rate, I'll offer a bit of perspective on that.
    I recently answered a similar question posed on the TI Discussion Forum. Here's the question:

    >>I would love it if I could make the transition from 1:25 to 1:30 per 100 yards to 1:15. Do you think shortening my stroke could do it?

    I guess another way to ask this, do many 50 year olds with only average fitness swim at 1:15 with "too long" of a stroke?

    (I am not saying too long of a stroke length, I am referring to where my hand comes out of the water)>>

    I replied as follows:

    Great question and great clarification. The effective strong length is forward, not rearward. Pushing past your hips and down your leg doesn't add any useful propulsion -- mainly it makes your triceps more tired and limits your stroke rate.

    Extending forward -- and beginning your stroke more patiently -- brings two benefits:
    1) less wave drag
    2) more traction.
    Both increase your speed potential.

    How much stroke length is "too much" is also a great question. Virtually every untutored swimmer on the planet has "too short" a stroke. They all have ample stroke rate, but there's usually too much slip, too little grip or too much wavemaking in those strokes.

    To compensate for years of swimming with "too short" a stroke, we move them toward swimming -- for a while -- with "too long" a stroke. Too long for speed, but well suited for sustained relaxed, more economical -- even mindful -- swimming. You trade "present speed" for "future speed."

    The goal of that practice is to build an efficiency foundation so sturdy that you can later choose to "trade" some of that stroke length for speed -- and STILL have a more-than-usually-efficient stroke.

    You sharpen your "trading skills" with a particular kind of practice. Call your "too long" stroke (i.e. maximizes ease and flow, but limits speed) N and spend time practicing smooth transitions from N to N+1, N+2, N+3. When you learn to swim SMOOTHLY at those higher counts, you should also find yourself swimming much faster, without undue fatigue.

    This is a more "organic" way to gain speed -- or increase stroke rate -- than by trying to consciously shorten your stroke, say by stopping it at mid-ribcage.

    My N count in a 25-yard pool is 12SPL. When I decide to swim a lap at 15SPL, my focus isn't on taking shorter or faster strokes, but on fitting in 15 unhurried strokes before the next wall. As I do that my body naturally makes adjustments that produce more speed. But that speed feels much more sustainable than when my intention is to turn over faster or work harder.
    [FONT=Arial]Swim well -- Live well,
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  17. #37
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Quote Originally Posted by okoban View Post
    I will work hard to change those bad habits, but it will take some time. I think I should not take my sprint sets out of my workouts but minimize them to once (maybe twice) a week and focus on refining my technique.
    Thanks Sean you are a great coach , if I born again I hope I would start swimming in your supervision
    My best wishes
    In terms of keeping yourself strong, twice a week seems plenty. As I mentioned, you want to make sure you never do sprints on two consecutive days. Three times a week is intense. Once isn't too bad.

    In terms of technique -- as I have mentioned -- there are drills one can do for achieving better technique, but drills can only go so far. For instance, if you are practicing the thumb-drag drill (wherein one scrapes one's (recovery arm) thumbnail against his or her side during arm recoveries as a means of assuring near proper elbow technique), it becomes, after a while, a stroke unto itself. One always needs to remain mindful that the lesson learned during the drill has to be reincorporated into the whole stroke. While swimming slowly allows one to focus more, it also allows one to suffer through inefficient strokes. I've seen people that swim their laps doing the thumb drag every time. That's not efficient. If you are sprinting, it becomes obvious that while your recovery hand should stay close to the side and keep from going under during the recovery, the thumb drag exaggerates that lesson by bringing the hand in closer and with more effort than is practical for a sprint.

    Moving forward, how about you have a cycle of three workouts? First, a drill day. Second, an endurance day. Third, a sprint day. If you are practicing only freestyle, then do a free drill day, a free endurance day, and a free sprint day. If you want to keep well-rounded in the strokes, then you may want to break down your three-day cycle into something like:

    Day 1: 3/4 time fly skill drills and 1/4 time free drills
    Day 2: 3/4 time fly endur./fly endur. drills and 1/4 time free endur.
    Day 3: 1/2 time fly sprints and 1/2 time free sprints

    Day 4: 3/4 time back skill drills and 1/4 time free skill drills
    Day 5: 3/4 time back endur./back endur. drills and 1/4 time free endur.
    Day 6: 1/2 time back sprints and 1/2 time free sprints

    Day 7: 3/4 time brst skill drills and 1/4 time free drills
    Day 8: 3/4 time brst endur./brst endur. drills and 1/4 time free endur.
    Day 9: 1/2 time brst sprints and 1/2 time free sprints

    Day 10: free skill drills
    Day 11: free endur./free endur. drills
    Day 12: free sprints

    Day 13: 3/4 time I.M. skill drills and 1/4 time free drills
    Day 14: 3/4 time I.M. endur./I.M. endur. drills and 1/4 time free endur.
    Day 15: 1/2 time I.M. sprints and 1/2 time free sprints

    or something similar. And the difference between a skill drill and an endurance drill is that a skill drill is designed to enhance skill sets (like the thumb drag drill), whereas an endurance drill is designed to get more lengths of a hard stroke out of you without killing you (like single arm, single arm, double arm butterfly).

    I hope that makes sense.

    Best wishes to you as well.

    --Sean

  18. #38
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    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    [quote=KaizenSwimmer;75389]Oguz


    You sharpen your "trading skills" with a particular kind of practice. Call your "too long" stroke (i.e. maximizes ease and flow, but limits speed) N and spend time practicing smooth transitions from N to N+1, N+2, N+3. When you learn to swim SMOOTHLY at those higher counts, you should also find yourself swimming much faster, without undue fatigue.

    This is a more "organic" way to gain speed -- or increase stroke rate -- than by trying to consciously shorten your stroke, say by stopping it at mid-ribcage.

    Hi Terry, I also read your book in those days when I was shifting to front-quadrant swimming. Your book also helped me a lot to understand the philosophy behind efficient swimming. I want to thank you and Mr Hines for that (I used to write a good comment in Amazon 8 yrs ago for his book). I was a bit younger those days, but I was a finance manager
    Now I am a bit older, but happier to be in operations
    14 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
    The best book to learn efficient freestyle swimming, June 11, 1999
    Reviewer: A reader
    I am a 30 year old finance manager who used to swim for more than 20 years especially in freestyle.I learned swimming in a swimming school when I was a child and I also read some books to swim better, but all of these books did not add anything to my swimming efficiency. After reading 'Fitness Swimming' I realised that there is a concept called 'efficient swimming'. I started the excersises in Jan.1999 and I am still working on the skill drills to improve my technique.Within 5 months my strokes per length reduced by 25% without slowing down the pace. I strongly recommend this book to everyone who want to learn swimming or improve freestyle technique.I want to thank the coach to give me hundreds of valuable lessons free at charge.

    Regarding your quote above, I am exactly doing it with Coach Sean's advices. Now I am faster, my strokes length is still not bad.
    I know you wrote a new book; why don't you or coach Hines consider writing another book like 'part 2' of the previous books (adding speed and stroke refinement after achieving front-quadrant swimming). I think you should consider it. Personally I like the step by step method of coach Hines. When I finish each part, I feel like graduated from a class.
    Thanks for your advices. I read your comments throughout the forum and benefit a lot.

  19. #39
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    Smile Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    Quote Originally Posted by haffathot View Post
    In terms of keeping yourself strong, twice a week seems plenty. As I mentioned, you want to make sure you never do sprints on two consecutive days. Three times a week is intense. Once isn't too bad.

    Moving forward, how about you have a cycle of three workouts? First, a drill day. Second, an endurance day. Third, a sprint day. If you are practicing only freestyle, then do a free drill day, a free endurance day, and a free sprint day. If you want to keep well-rounded in the strokes, then you may want to break down your three-day cycle into something like:

    Day 1: 3/4 time fly skill drills and 1/4 time free drills
    Day 2: 3/4 time fly endur./fly endur. drills and 1/4 time free endur.
    Day 3: 1/2 time fly sprints and 1/2 time free sprints

    Day 4: 3/4 time back skill drills and 1/4 time free skill drills
    Day 5: 3/4 time back endur./back endur. drills and 1/4 time free endur.
    Day 6: 1/2 time back sprints and 1/2 time free sprints

    Day 7: 3/4 time brst skill drills and 1/4 time free drills
    Day 8: 3/4 time brst endur./brst endur. drills and 1/4 time free endur.
    Day 9: 1/2 time brst sprints and 1/2 time free sprints

    Day 10: free skill drills
    Day 11: free endur./free endur. drills
    Day 12: free sprints

    Day 13: 3/4 time I.M. skill drills and 1/4 time free drills
    Day 14: 3/4 time I.M. endur./I.M. endur. drills and 1/4 time free endur.
    Day 15: 1/2 time I.M. sprints and 1/2 time free sprints

    or something similar. And the difference between a skill drill and an endurance drill is that a skill drill is designed to enhance skill sets (like the thumb drag drill), whereas an endurance drill is designed to get more lengths of a hard stroke out of you without killing you (like single arm, single arm, double arm butterfly).

    I hope that makes sense.

    Best wishes to you as well.

    --Sean
    Coach, you changed my swimming habit dramatically. Now I can not cruise in slow pace (I think I will learn to shift gears in time). I start slowly, but after a couple of strokes later I can't stop my body going faster. I am trying to focus on completing my strokes and a proper hand entry. When I use hand paddles and fins together (max. speed) I can fine tune my hand entry and body position. (At least my hands are not travelling through the US map west to east , I am trying to apply I-pull).
    I tried another 50 and did it in 35 seconds (again) I will try a 200 on weekend (I will beat 3 minutes this time); when doing a 50 sprint to break my record, if I take 5 breaths throughout the length, I think I can do 33 or 34sec. (I take a lot of breath like I am doing 100m.)
    You are right that my super hi elbow recovery style is due to a lot of skill drills, but if I can manage a proper hand entry, I think I will not need to erase this habit.
    I will apply your suggestion about my work-outs. I will skip butterfly part out, my butterfly is not good enough to cover 3/4 of the workout.
    Is it OK if I do (as an exemple):
    Day 4: 3/4 time back skill drills and 1/4 time free skill drills
    400 warm-up (free/back/breast)
    1,500 work-out (drills from below site)
    http://www.goswim.tv/drilloftheweek_...=1012_0_20_0_C#
    400 cool down (free/back/breast)
    Day 5: 3/4 time back endur./back endur. drills and 1/4 time free endur.
    w/u and c/d parts are the same as above,
    w/o part:
    200X4 back on 4:20,
    200X2 free on 4:00
    200X4 back on 4:10
    Day 6: 1/2 time back sprints and 1/2 time free sprints
    Our famous sprint set, but first 5 of the 50 sprints are back (or shall I do even numbers free, add numbers back), second 5 are free (same rotation for kick set and just arms). What about hypoxics in breast and back?
    In sprint sets, I plan to do 65 sec. for back and 70 sec. for breast per 50.
    Thanks coach

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    116

    Re: How to increase my stroke rate

    The 15-day workout plan is to give you an idea of what I think should be your focus for more well-rounded strokes. Basically, no matter what strokes you are working, you should find a balance between the competing tools of practice: endurance work, skill work, and sprints. Working exclusively on any one of those three will keep you from being a well-rounded swimmer. Too much endurance work, and you'll find that you can't sprint and that you have lazy strokes. Too much sprint work, and you'll find each 100 in a 500 set facing a precipitous time drop and that you have sloppy strokes. Too much skill work, and you'll make yourself an inefficient swimmer. Similarly, too much of any one stroke is always at the expense of the others. Also, because all strokes share certain aspects, mastery of any one aids in attaining mastery in every other.

    As I am not there physically to watch you swim, you are, ultimately, your own coach. You do what your conscience tells you is appropriate. However, do not set your workouts toward what your comfort level is so much as toward what your needs are. In backstroke, hypoxics are neither possible nor practical. In breaststroke, you need your head to surface, but you do not need to breathe every time you surface. As with butterfly, I recommend that you breathe every other or every third stroke. On the non-breathing strokes, be sure to keep your head and chin tucked down as you surface from and then reenter the water. Throwing your head back to take a breath slows down your stroke, rhythm, and aerodynamics.

    4+ minutes for a 200 is a bit long. You may want to shave those times down a bit. As free is the fastest stroke, your sprint goals for the other strokes will have to be your free sprint goals adjusted to give a bit more time. The times you suggest are good to kick things off, but, like with free, keep track of your capabilities and keep honest. If you feel that you could do with less or more rest, adjust the time goals.

    Also, with regard to your butterfly, competitive breaststroke is actually harder to complete than butterfly. I read in some study that Olympic breaststrokers are actually stronger in upper body than Olympic butterflyers. So, if you would rather skip butterfly than breaststroke because of the effort involved in performing butterfly, then you are either performing breaststroke or butterfly wrong. In both, your body should be undulating through the water (where the water is ------, you are ~~~~~~). If your breaststroke or butterfly is more of a flat style (with peaks and falls over the water but not much underwater action: |\|\|\|\|\|\), then you really need to update your stroke.

    Good luck,

    --Sean

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