SPL is one important measurement but it does not tell the whole story.
You are able to make longer strokes with the old patterns. But, we have reason to believe those old patterns are ‘inefficient’ for longer swimming. Yet, you have circuits for that old pattern in place and so it felt relatively ‘easy’ to swim that way. Now that you are shaping a new pattern, your brain is building new circuits and while those are under construction signals are slower and not as strong (think how traffic moves slowly in a construction zone). You are having to divert a lot of energy toward this new, unfamiliar patterns and that not only lowers your energy a little, it also confuses the whole body which was doing ‘ok’ using the old pattern. It has not learned to organize itself around the new patter yet. So SPL may indeed go up for a several practices until the body learns to re-organize around this new pattern. You have several major corrections going on right now, so there is not just one construction zone in your circuits but 3 or 4 of them.
I would not worry about SPL but you are good to monitor it. Use an array of measurements to assess improvement. Look for improvements in internal sensations of ‘easier’ ‘smoother’ ‘less resistance’ ‘less excess movement’. Look for an increase in energy – or rather, it is just getting easier to slide and to breathe. It just may feel ‘more fun’ to swim!
It may take about 3 weeks (12 practices or so – 2000 mindful, successful repetitions of the movement) to imprint a new recovery pattern so that it starts to feel normal and you can enjoy it with less concentration and less effort.
– Build better frame (shape and alignment along the spine)
– Stable transitions (exit, recovery, entry, extension)
Once those two are in place you should have a lot more ability to affect lower SPL.
So, keep up the good work. You are not just training a new stroke pattern, you are also training yourself how to change things in your stroke, and that is a skill in itself. Even if you are not getting it perfect by my definition, continue to make the stroke do what you intend it to do to the best of your understanding and then you will get better at making adjustments in the stroke. If, in a few weeks the video shows some additional correction, you can just punch that into your mental ‘change-my-stroke’ app and work on that new adjustment.
I am not sure if I have the correct picture in my mind for what you are doing with your thumb. We had an old drill in TI called Zipper Switch where we would be rotated nearly on our side, then with the thumb actually touching the skin, we would pull the thumb up the side of the body from hip to ear. This was effective for teaching the elbow to lead but it put the rest of the body and arm out of position. So that drill is not used anymore.
What you want instead is to form an equilateral triangle to the side of your body (see diagram). And your fingers brush the surface. There are two focal points in the 101 Focal Points page you can use – ‘Paint A Line’ and ‘Dragonfly Fingertips’.
May your shift on the rig go peaceful and well. And may your training there in body and imagination be enjoyable and fruitful too.
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~ Coach Mat