A recent comment I received on my post Long Live ‘Slide-And-Glide’ (drill) asked for a video example of this.
I think Shinji’s 9-stroke video gets the idea across.
Notice how there is no pause in the stroke. One arm is always moving, and moving steady and smooth, even while stroking at slower tempo. The catch and hold is still strong and steady, not lighter, nor snappier. That firm and steady pressure of the catch at all tempos is a key feature of SAG.
In my early TI self-coaching days I spent a great portion of my practices in SAG and rotated through my long list of focal points. I mixed it up with various distances and repeat patterns and occasional drill work.
Now-a-days, I use SAG most often while swimming along in open-water with my groups of students and need to set a pace in coordination with them.
Add a Tempo Trainer at tempos slower than 1.40 seconds (like repeats at 1.40, 1.50, 1.60, 1.70, 1.80) to really give you time to examine and measure the finer details of your balance and streamline.
You can do a pyramid set like this:
2x 25 (#1 at 1.40, #2 1.50, #3 1.60, #4 1.70, #5 1.80)
Then go back down in reverse, but make the steps in+0.05 seconds, not 0.10.
2x 25 (#1 at 1.75, #2 1.70, #3 1.65, etc)
See if you can return to your starting tempo with a lower stroke count than when you began, without increasing effort level.
Then continue into faster-than-start tempos so see how much faster you can go before returning to your starting stroke count.
1x 25 (#1 at 1.37, #2 1.34, #3 1.31, etc)
Use stroke counting to measure the glide quality.
In Slide-And-Glide this is one way we measure Quality = take fewer strokes (objective measurement) while holding the same tempo (objective), at same effort level (subjective measurement).
Remember, the goal of SAG is not to stroke harder to make up for fewer # of strokes, but to find ways to improve balance and streamline so that you require less power to achieve the same stroke count. Thereby you the develop motor-control (like Shinji in this video) that allows you to hold the same pace with fewer heart beats. In other words, you swim faster with less effort.
Shinji makes it look effortless because he has practiced in such a way that it has truly become effortless.
Always train to swim on the Path Of Least Resistance and you will find it.
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