Taking the data you’ve just given me and punching them into my stroke calculator I estimate that your turn time (coming to wall, turning, pushoff, and glide to first underwater stroke) is about 5 seconds long. It has to be about that if you are using 18 SPL x 1.11 tempo = 25 sec per 25y.
In this new pace matrix, I’ve made it based on 25y (22.84 meters) and in the range of tempos you note.
On this matrix you an see the 16, 17 and 18 SPL columns and the white box which represents this ‘pace to beat’ of 25 seconds per 25y.
So, the question for you is where do you feel your weaker spot is in achieving a 1k faster than this pace?
Is SPL where you feel it should be at 16-18 SPL?
Are you pleased with that pace of 1:40 per 100y? Would you be pleased holding this pace for 1k (it would achieve about 28min 20sec)? Do you feel that is a good goal to aim for at this time?
If so, then you don’t necessarily need to work on an SPL decrease or a tempo decrease – just consistency. You then need to work on increasing endurance (to hold that pace over longer distance) by both decreasing resistance (by better body shape and control) and increasing fitness for that pace (in terms of both attention endurance and metabolic fitness).
Your weekly training can then be designed around those particular goals.
When you reach your threshold – you said you can hold 26 seconds for 250 yards – what happens at that point? Do you feel exhausted? Or do you notice quality dropping so much that you realize you’ve lost control over efficiency? What is the weak feature – energy (heart rate), control, or attention?
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~ Coach Mat