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.
You can look at these to find what I am doing well at. Yet, the purpose of taking the video was not to get a ‘pat-on-the-back’ but to find ways to make it better.
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‘.)
p style=”text-align: center;”>~ ~ ~
And a final bonus for you – a Sync Swim Demo with Total Immersion Head Coach Terry Laughlin!
© 2016, Mediterra International, LLC. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mediterra International, LLC and Mediterraswim.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Nice Mat. Was so great to work with you again last week!!
And a pleasure to work with you again too. Let’s find more excuses… in warm, sunny places!
Very Interesting. Regarding ‘Improve the timing of the arm switch – no over-lap, no under-lap.’, you said … “where I set the catch at the precise moment the fingers of the entry arm break the surface”. Does this mean that you have not yet started the catch as the fingers enter or that as the fingers enter the catch is just starting?
A good, fine-point question, John. My chosen objective is to have the fingers pierce the water at the same time the lead hand is curving down to set the catch – so you might say the lead hand starts curving just slightly before the fingers of the entry hand pierce the water. But this is micro-seconds and I have to feel it, not see it. What you would see on video may not be exactly what is happening in my description, because the description refers to what I feel my hands are doing at that moment.
The reason I chose this timing: contrary to the traditional ‘pulling’ view of the stroke, the catching hand is in the ‘supporting’ role, getting a grip on the water so that my body can drive the entering arm in and extend forward. So, if the catch is too early, it’s expending some force before the lead arm is in place to part water molecules. If it’s too late, then I allow a bit too much deceleration for which I will have to increase the torque in my shoulders to make up for.
I also meant to ask if the fingers/catch applies at all speeds?
We would want a swimmer to learn how to adjust the timing intentionally, learning small but important ways to modify the timing and thereby modify the overlap of each of the arms. Then, one is in position to experiment to see how small adjustments in overlap, at different tempos, affect flow through the water. There is a general overlap we want to be capable of at any tempo, and then we can experiment and debate which is ideal, and leave room for personal variation on these micro-adjustments in overlap. But the key here is to first acquire the skill of controlling overlap on command, then adjust as tests and chooses just how much he wants. At slower my overlap is much more pronounced, but I am reviewing that preference now, in light of what I am experiencing in this sprint work. But, I am thinking of these adjustments in overlap as ‘settings’ I can choose from as needed, rather than a one-size-fits-all, or one-setting-for-this-tempo. All these ways to modify the stroke are there to
give me options
in dealing with different speeds and different water conditions. Perhaps a strickly pool-sprinter will want just one way of accomplishing the stroke, but as an ow swimmer I need options to adapt to many situations.
Thanks, Mat. It was so nice to learn along side you at Clermont FF. Hope to have another opportunity soon! I so appreciate your posts. They are very helpful in my own swimming and coaching.
Hi Deb, glad to hear from you and receive this encouragement on the posts. My writing on all this is a part of my own learning process, so I am pleased we can both benefit from it. May our coaching paths cross again!