Archives for posts with tag: distance per stroke

This week we will be slowing down a little to give everyone time to focus on good technique.  It will still be a good workout – with a main set of aerobic 75s and 125s – but the reduction in intensity should give you a bit more time to focus on your distance per stroke.  In all the sets this week please focus on the back-end push part of your underwater pull.  Engage your core and squeeze out a good length in each stroke.

See you Saturday!


Photo by Marcus Ng on Unsplash

Well done for everyone who made the effort to do the time trials last week.  You should now have some excellent data on your stroke rate (in strokes per minute) and distance per stroke (in metres).  If you missed the time trials then you can measure these variables yourself in a public session by counting and using a stopwatch.  Or come along to the next time trials at the end of March.

As most of you will know, swimming fast is all governed by a very simple equation:

speed = stroke rate x distance per stroke

So those of you doing 60 strokes per minute and averaging 1m per stroke will be going 60m per minute, which is 1min 40s pace per 100m.  This equation tells you that increasing either stroke rate or distance per stroke  will make you go faster (while holding the other variable at a similar level).

We’ve been thinking a lot about technique improvements that improve your distance per stroke so far this winter and now I want to focus more on stroke rate as we pick up the pace towards race season.  So this week we will do some drills to get you swimming at a higher stroke rate.  Don’t worry about your distance per stroke when doing the drills but do try and carry the faster stroke rate into the following swim sets at a similar distance per stroke that you usually swim.  Try and think of it like spinning in an easy gear on the bike.  Getting used to a higher cadence on a bike can often be more efficient and make you go faster overall, as many of you know, and a similar thing can true for many of us when we swim.

See you Saturday!


We will be doing some more fast-paced, USRPT 50s this week where the target is to swim at a faster pace than you can sustain for the whole set without missing some out.  Remember, leave 5s intervals between swimmers and take your times for every 50.  As soon as your time drops by 1s or more miss the next one out and take the extra recovery.

We will be continuing with a mix of fast and speed endurance sets for the remainder of September to help you keep your race speed going until the end of the season.  From October we will drop back to more technique and steady-paced aerobic swimming as the first part of winter training.

If you like numbers, are enjoyed the Swim Smooth Olympic analysis video I posted last week, then you may also be interested in the follow-up analysis Paul Newsome has published on stroke rates and stroke lengths from the Olympics, which you can find here.  The trade-off between stroke length and stroke rate is particularly important and is one of the reasons we measure both of these when we do the 400m time trials throughout the winter.  This is a theme I will return to again when we get into the Winter training.

See you Saturday!


Well done to all those that swam the time trials this morning, there were some good performances.  You can see the draft results here.  I usually make the odd transcription error, even though I try not to, so please email me if you think I have got something wrong and I will check to see if I can spot a mistake. So what can you learn from this?

  • I suggest you look at your splits to see how well you paced the 400.  Should you have paced it differently?
  • Your critical swim speed is an estimate of the pace you should be able to sustain for longer races like 1500m and is estimated based on the difference between your 100m and 400m times.  The estimate in the results should be a good pace to swim at in training to improve your endurance.
  • Checking your strokes per minute and distance per stroke measures are a useful indicator of whether increasing stroke rate or distance per stroke are likely to help you increase your speed most effectively.  You can check these measures against the averages for your lane, and other lanes, in the table below the main results.
  • As another reference for stroke rates, Rebecca Adlington used to swim at about 75 strokes per minute and 1.3m/stroke when racing 400m.  Sun Yang, the current 1500m world record holder, averages 55 strokes/min and 1.9m/stroke when racing 1500m.

Have a good weekend and I hope to see many of you not smelling of chlorine and wearing a lot more clothes than usual at the club awards evening tonight! Rob

Now that the triathlon season is over for most of us I will be changing the Saturday morning swimming sessions over to Winter training.  That means more slower, aerobic paced swimming than we have been doing plus some more time to focus on technique before Christmas.  This year I plan to include more sets that include different strokes to front crawl as I think this can be really beneficial to most people’s swimming.  Doing different strokes usually makes you a better all-round swimmer by helping you get a better feel for the water and doing more variety can also be good fun!

So what do you want to achieve with your swimming over the Winter?  I think the time between now and Christmas is the ideal time to improve your technique.  It takes time to make changes that stick as old habits die hard and you often will go slower initially as you make adjustments that feel strange.  The increased amount of slower paced swimming and technique work we will be doing will give you time to think about any necessary changes and get them bedded in before you try and use them to start swimming faster in the New Year.

So what changes do you want to make to your stroke, if any?  Faster swimmers usually do fewer strokes per length as their streamlining and feel for the water is better than for slower swimmers.  Lane 1 swimmers on Saturday typically do 16-22 strokes per length but Alex, who leads the lane, can put us all to shame by doing 9-10 strokes per length!  You can reduce your stroke count in many different ways – improved body position (especially keeping your head down), stronger catch, not dropping your elbows underwater, etc. – and you can always ask me, or the other coaches, what they think would be best for you.  Watching good swimmers also helps and Youtube is a great source of good examples (Google any of the greats, such as Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe or Rebecca Adlington).  However, I believe that there is no single, perfect technique that works for everyone – it is a case of finding the technique that is most effective for you and often this involves some trial and error.

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