Archives for the month of: January, 2015

It’s time for our mid-Winter time trials this week and I’d like you to think about swimming the fastest you can by keeping as relaxed as possible.

We will follow the same format as in November with a good warm-up, including some fast swimming, followed by a 400m and 100m time trial.  Again I am going to be asking those not swimming to take 100m split times as well as counting strokes so we can measure your pace judgement, stroke rate and distance per stroke.  It is hard to get stroke counts for each 100m (it’s a lot of counting) so instead I’d like those counting to count strokes for a particular length on each 100 of the 400.  We will multiply this by 4 to get a measure of distance per stroke and stroke rate.  It’s not as accurate as counting every stroke but an approximate stroke count will be good enough.

I know some of you find that you swim slower when doing a 400m time trial than when doing long sets of 100m reps with short intervals or even just doing a “steady” 400m in training.  However, there is no lack of effort from everyone who I see swim time trials so if you fall into this category then it means your extra effort is not being used efficiently and is either reducing your propulsion, increasing your drag or both.   For you, less is more and I recommend thinking about three things for the time trial:

1)      Try and enjoy the chance to have a lane pretty much to yourself and swimming fast without anyone in your way.  Your  time will look after itself if you try and relax and enjoy it rather than worrying about the outcome.

2)      Don’t press too hard or quickly at the catch.  As you feel the pressure on your hand at the start of each stroke the temptation is to put the power on quickly but unless your elbow is high, and your hand and forearm pointing downwards, most of your effort will be wasted pushing your body upwards rather than forwards.  This wastes effort and increases drag so instead be patient and wait until your forearm is vertical before putting the power on at the catch.

3)      Try and swim an even pace throughout.  Most of you will start quickly, with natural adrenaline, so use that get your arms moving at a good tempo but make sure you are relaxing into a sustainable pace before you finish the first 50m.  Then try and relax, keeping the stroke rate comfortable and your stroke long for the rest of the 400m.  Most people slow down in the 3rd 100 so really focus on maintaining a good form and stroke length then.  The last 100m will look after itself as you finish to the cheers of your adoring fans!

See you Saturday!

Rob

Advertisements

As we prepare for time trials next week I’d like you to think about your stroke rate again and to try and find the right stroke rate for you.  We’ll be doing a main set consisting of sets of either 4 or 5 x 100s with a short recovery.  Use the opportunity to try and find a stroke rate that gives you the best speed for each 100 and that is sustainable throughout the set.  This should be your 400m time trial pace for next week.  Get used to what it feels like and also make sure you know your time.  To do this you will need to know your 100m time for each repetition so make it easy on yourselves and go at 5s intervals unless your lane is really crowded.

See you Saturday!

Rob

We’ve been working on stroke length the last few weeks but how fast you swim is a combination of both stroke length (or distance per stroke) and stroke rate (the number of strokes you take per minute).  So for the next couple of weeks, before we do the next set of time trials, I’d like you to think about whether or not you are swimming at the right stroke rate.  The usual measure of stroke rate is in strokes per minute and it is easy to measure by just counting your strokes for a set distance and dividing it by the time taken in minutes.  Those of you that did the time trials in November last year will have had it measured for you and are in the results here.

So what should your stroke rate be?  I don’t believe there is an answer to this – the ideal rate varies so much from swimmer to swimmer.  Instead I think a more useful question to ask is “What’s my best stroke rate in a 1500m at the start of a triathlon?” or whatever other event you are training for.  And your current stroke rate may not be the best one to allow you to swim as fast as you want to over your given race distance given that you still want to be fresh enough to bike and run afterwards.  Here are a few data points to compare against:

  • In the last 400m time trials we did stroke rates ranged from 45 to 69 strokes per minute with an average of 57 and you can see everyone’s stroke rates in the time trial results.
  • The Brownlees and Javier Gomez averaged between 80 and 90 strokes per minute during the swim leg of the 2012 Olympic Triathlon (see the excellent Swim Smooth blog), as did the female medalists in the 10k open water swimming.
  • Top 1500m Olympic male freestyle swimmers average between 65 and 80 strokes per minute when racing and top female Olympic 800m swimmers average between 70 and 80 strokes per minute.

Don’t worry too much if there is a big difference between your current stroke rate and that used by some of the world’s elite, as listed above.  Our average age is a lot higher than the elite swimmers listed and I would expect lower stroke rates overall.  However, it may be that you could swim quicker at a different stroke rate and this is probably likely to be a faster stroke rate rather than a slower one.  Think of it a bit like spinning an easier gear on the bike at a higher cadence rather than pushing a harder gear and getting more fatigued.

To help you play around with your stroke rate this week we will be doing a couple of different things alongside our usual main swimming sets.  Firstly, we will be doing some drills that will force you to increase your stroke rate, such as head-up front crawl and fists drill.  Also, we will be doing some golf stroke swimming where I will be looking for a change of 10 or more between the first and last 50.  So start the golf stroke set slowly to give yourself a chance of achieving this and increase your stroke rate to try and reduce your golf stroke for each 50.  Your sustainable 1500m stroke rate may be on one of your middle 50s rather than your fastest 50 but it is good to try stroke rates both above and below your sustainable pace to get a good idea of what is right for you.

Changing stroke rate naturally affects your length of stroke and also how tired you will become.  You are looking for a stroke rate that gives you the best speed at a sustainable effort.  So play around with it over the next couple of weeks to see if an increase in your stroke rate helps.  It should feel comfortable and natural and the clock will tell you the effect it is having on your speed.

See you Saturday!

Rob

More of the same this week – plenty of aerobic front crawl with more chance to practice a long stroke with finger-drag drill.  There are lots of videos on the web showing you how to do this but I still think the video by Keri-Anne Payne is one of the best examples to watch.  Remember – keep the palm of your non-recovering arm facing down, to avoid over-rotating, and make sure you finish off each pull by brushing your thumb past your thigh before starting the high-elbow recovery.

See you Saturday!

Rob

%d bloggers like this: