This is my third practice of the New Year, as I begin to reformat my stroke- I’m taking the best of both stroke patterns I developed over the last year or so and making my single new one. Before I had a ‘distance’ stroke pattern that had a wider recovery swing and a wider entry point for my spearing hand, and a relaxed extension forward which could go a couple hours at high tempo- but I lost some valuable SL with it. And I had a ‘sprint’ stroke pattern that my TI comrades immediately critiqued for being old-school TI, though they noted I maintained impeccable balance with such a narrow recovery, and narrow entry and target- it gave me the superior SL I needed for my 100m work, but it was not a form I could hold for a 1500.  I was working too hard on the recovery, holding it too narrow to keep that up so long.

Now I am combining the relaxation of a wide swing and my long-narrow reach forward. Sounds simple, unless you’ve spent hundreds of hours imprinting a different pattern. Now I am simply mapping a new pattern with a lot of mindful practice.

Today- 3200m at the Akdeniz Univ pool. The water was around 30 C. I started at 9:15.

Borrowing this from Terry’s practice a few days ago-

5x 100m stroke focus to loosen up- ‘wide swing’, ‘long-reach forward’, ‘head-down’, ‘relax all that can be relaxed’

5x [3x100m]

  1. hold at 17 SPL: 1.40, 1.42, 1.41
  2. hold at 16 SPL: 1.38, 1.40, 1.38
  3. hold at 15 SPL: 1.36, 1.36, 1.36
  4. hold at 16 SPL: 1.36, 1.36, 1.36
  5. hold at 17 SPL: 1.34, 1.34, 1.36

5x 100m with zoomers- 12m u/w dolphin kick to half-way point, then alternate 12m ez BR (with dolphin) and FR

5x 100m hold 16 SPL and minimize effort. Descend times. 1.35, 1.34, 1.34, 1.33, 1.34

200 IM to finish

I set glass stones on the bottom- one at each end at 6.5m mark- my target for where I will break the surface on my push-off. And one stone at the half-way mark. The pool is 2m deep so I can see these in my peripheral vision a stroke before reaching them, even with my goggles looking straight down as they should. In a shallower pool this would not be possible- I’d have to lift my head to see them and break my streamline. These markers are so helpful- I can take readings now on how well my stroke count is holding (16 SPL for instance) by noting whether I break the surface at the first, hit #6 stroke at half-way, and hit #11 at the third one. It takes a precision jump, at just the right depth, and two crisp dolphin flicks to break at the first stone comfortably.

Today, the pool temperature was just barely swimmable. I could swim only at moderate exertion because my HR was reacting to the hot water. I was able to do all these 100’s today but I was fatigued mostly from the heat, not so much from neural and muscular work, though I put in some good labor. So I don’t feel these times accurately reflect my abilities right now. I think I should have been able to hold low to sub 1.30 times for almost all of this practice today, if the water were 2 or 3 degrees cooler. I also acknowledge that I am not so well conditioned right now- I have just slowed way down since early November when life/work got a bit more demanding.

For ‘effortless’ swimming (or rather, least-fatiguing motion) the wide-swing really helps keep my back and shoulders from tightening up, which is why I adopted this for distance OW swimming. But now I see that I can still get my narrow entry and long reach forward to hold better SL as well. I’ve set my targets just as narrow and a bit shallower as I feel less drag at that position, and now my high-elbow catch is becoming my instinctive, default catch position. I have found this long-reach to be the key feature in holding a long SL, rather than the thrust of the catching arm- it’s the long bodyline that makes the catch convert to forward acceleration. I get better results when my focus point is the hip-thrust-to-reach-forward, rather than hip-thrust-to-catch (but the supporting key to this is having a high-elbow catch that I don’t have to think about anymore).

I am going to start taking this 16 SPL stroke and gradually condition it for faster and faster tempos. 18 SPL may actually be more suitable to my 100m PR goals, but I’ll start with this and go down a ways, then click up to 17 SPL and go further, then click up to 18 and go a bit further. This will follow my hypothesis that as I develop my sprint speed SL must be held in priority over SR- or in other words, I must first build the desired SL then build up my SR only as I can protect this SL, making only the most calculated exchanges to dial in the optimal SL/SR for my 100m goal.

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