I was in Clermont, Florida last week to attend a joint ‘Fast Forward’ TI Coach 2.0 training camp led by my colleague Tracey Baumann and Erin Glynn and a TI Triathlon Training Camp led by coaches Celeste Saint Pierre, Suzanne Atkinson and Dinah Damian. Head Coach Terry was there and floating between the two.
I had the chance to get some new stroke demo videos made in superb water conditions.
In this first video I am using a Tempo Trainer set to 0.93 in order to see what my stroke is doing now that I’ve been working in the 0.90s these last few weeks for my 100y Sprint Improvement Project.
In this second video I am using a Tempo Trainer set to 1.03, what is my relatively comfortable cruising tempo right now.
And, with this intention at camp, I received valuable external observations from my coach colleagues and three important recommendations which I added to my improvement list for my stroke at these tempos:
1) Tilt the head down a bit further, into truly neutral head position.
I empathize with all you who also keep getting this recommendation! Even the slightest peek forward position is a hard human habit to break, but consider the benefit: when I do keep an absolutely neutral head position I immediately shave 1/2 stroke from my SPL in a 25m pool, no extra effort required. That’s about a 3% reduction in drag and effort in one small adjustment. The higher the tilt to look forward the higher the drag, not to mention the local extension fault and strain this puts on the cervical spine, and the chain reaction of strain that goes down the back. Who cares how popular it is to look forward a little or a lot – it goes against good physics and good physiology to bend the neck. So let’s keep working on breaking the habit rather than excusing it.
2) Improve the timing of the arm switch – no over-lap, no under-lap.
I’ve still got a bit too much overlap in the front at higher tempos – an over-correction at higher tempos that I need to keep working on. The trick here is to not have too much nor too little – but the correction for this requires me to go all the way back to the exit of the arm before recovery, to then adjust the recovery speed, to then adjust the entry timing. I want a smooth switch where I set the catch at the precise moment the fingers of the entry arm break the surface – this will maintain optimal balance between longer average body-line length (which improves water displacement) and smooth acceleration/deceleration curve (which preserved momentum).
3) Consciously emphasize the hip drive a bit more.
I have no problem doing this on command, but like the countless triathletes who filled the pool around me our old traditional land-mammal instinct is to pull with the arms and let the rest follow behind – and perhaps more tempting to me than to them because my rear is balanced and synchronized to the front, sliding easily behind. When I am feeling tired, I have no problem keeping hip drive in mind because it is where I can obviously tap into more power when energy is scarce. But when energy feels abundant, I still have the urge to be wasteful with it, like everyone does. (Read more thoughts about ‘abundant and scarce energy zones‘.)
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And a final bonus for you – a Sync Swim Demo with Total Immersion Head Coach Terry Laughlin!
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