I am so pleased with how much you are starting to notice in the timing details of each piece of the lap. You are on your way to accumulating many small advantages.
TIME FOR TURNS
For some reference point, when Terry and I make SPL estimates we often use 4.5 seconds as a standard time for the ‘turn and push-off to first stroke’. So, at 1.20 if you take 5 beeps from touching the wall to your first stroke entering the water, that is 6 seconds – unless you start count on Beep #0, then there are 4 more beeps for 4.8 seconds. And, for just the push-off and glide (no turn included) that may be about 3 beeps for many people (push-off starting on Beep #0, and first underwater stroke starting on Beep #3). So, you can use this info as a reference point and clarify with me how you are adding up your time.
SPL vs TEMPO TRADE-OFF
You have seen now how loss in 1 SPL affects your time. To hold an even pace, if you add 1 to SPL, you need to speed up tempo approximately 0.03 or more in order to hold same pace (granted, your turn and push-off do not change). So, when you start to work on tempo improvements I have you work on a specially designed SPLxTempo interval pattern which your progress is determined by your adaptive ability to hold SPL constant as tempo is sped up to a certain point, then we allow you to add another stroke, and then gradually speed up tempo some more. It is a calculated trade-off and this reveals why a swimmer has to adjust tempo always with respect to its affect on SPL. The math doesn’t lie.
I’ve uploaded a pace matrix for you. The white boxes represent three equal paces:
17 SPL x 1.20 Tempo
18 SPL x 1.14 Tempo
19 SPL x 1.08 Tempo
So, your observation matches the matrix. At 18 x 1.15 you were a slightly slower than 17 x 1.20. So, the training parameter we would set for you would say that you cannot add +1 stroke until you’ve worked your tempo down to 1.14 or faster. Then, once you are on the 18 SPL column, you’ve got to work your way down in tempo to at least 1.08 before you can allow yourself another stroke.
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~ Coach Mat