Archives for posts with tag: stroke count

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!


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!


As we’re now into the start of 2014 it is time to start thinking about the next triathlon season and getting ready to swim at race pace.  We will start picking up the pace with some faster intervals in the Saturday sessions from February but for January we will be sticking with mainly aerobic paced swimming.  We will continue doing some different strokes as I know many of you find it useful and I believe it helps many of us develop a better feel for the water.

When we start picking up the pace from February onwards the biggest challenge for most of us will be maintaining good technique.  Many of us can start to feel when our stroke falls apart but training in the pool we have a added advantage of being able to measure both our times and count our strokes per length as a measure of stroke efficiency.  So during January, please get into the habit of knowing what pace you are swimming and what your stroke count is throughout the session.  You don’t need to think about times and stroke count every length – or every interval in a set – but checking them frequently will be very useful.

This week we will be doing some breast stroke as the main other stroke to front crawl so please do re-read my previous post about breast stroke to remind you about the key things to think about.

See you Saturday!

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