In support of what I wrote in the last post, coincidentally, here is an excerpt from what Coach Terry sent out to TI Coaches worldwide today:
Do you recall the TI Swimming Success Algorithm?
It comes from data collected by USA Swimming at the Olympic Swim Trials from 1976 through 2012, then analyzed to discern patterns that improve a swimmers’ chances to make the Olympic team.
In most events, while there are 8 fiinalists only 3 to 4 swimmers have a realistic chance to make the Olympic team. And only the top two will make the cut. So the question is, if you’re fast, fit and talented enough to race other swimmers of similar caliber for an Olympic berth, what’s the best way to swim the race that decides it?
Of the approx 9000 ‘splashes’ (as they refer to individual races) for which USA Swimming has kept data over the last 36 years (9 Olympiads) what race pattern was most often associated with success? The ability to increase Stroke Rate near the end of the race, while minimizing loss of Stroke Length.
Consequently, the great majority of my ’empirical’ sets (those in which I track SPL, Time and/or Tempo) focus on testing, improving and ‘wiring in’ that capacity.
This is not somebody’s crazy untested idea. It is a documented, measurable fact that we base our training strategies upon.
There is an interesting contradiction in conventional training logic – they want to go harder to get faster. They call this a strong work ethic. And the typical approach is to spin the arms faster to do it, which results in higher heart rate, and gives more sense of ‘working hard’. Frankly, spinning arms at higher tempos is relatively easy, and requires very little coaching skill to accomplish. This may be the actual reason Go Hard is so popular – there is simply too little understanding beyond fast arm and high HR in the profession for coaching swimmers otherwise.
Do they really want it harder?
In contrast, training for a long stroke is far more technically challenging for a coach to guide, and far more neurologically challenging for the swimmer to concentrate on. Holding that long stroke under higher tempo or longer durations is hard work for the mind, but performs so much better. And with a longer stroke, a less extreme tempo is required.
The coach has to know what she is doing and how to measure this and how to train the swimmer to guard this advantage at all costs.
When in TI we say, Work Smarter, Not Harder it confronts this old misguided logic. But in fact, we might say we are advocating for Harder Work – but to do it where it counts more: Work the brain harder, so the body doesn’t have to.
The body will break down eventually, but this kind of training will only make the brain grow stronger, and this growth is available life long.