Smooth Strokes Blog

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Choose A Role Model… That Fits You

Choose a role model who is demonstrating those features at a speed similar to what you intend to go at. Form changes in significant ways as speed increases because the forces involved increase. When your hero or heroin is flying along at world record pace, they are positioned in a way that is not how you will be positioned when you are going at your best pace (I am sorry to break that to you!).

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Can You Trick Yourself Into A Longer Stroke?

You can do a set or exercise we call a ‘pyramid, such as a stroke count pyramid or a tempo pyramid and over the course of maybe 600 to 1000 meters, you can trick your body into swimming with slightly longer strokes or slightly faster tempo than you could previously. But just after doing a pyramid set try swimming for 5 minutes or longer with that improved stroke length or stroke rate. Your ability to maintain it likely won’t last long…

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The Back Story Of The Stroke Count Charts

Being one who processes information visually, one of my favorite products of these equations was a curve that I could calculate and then draw on a graph. The equations allow me to take different measurements from a unique swimmer and situation, and produce output that are a bit more customized to that individual. I can use the variables for height and wingspan (to derive the wingspan coefficient), push-off distance, duration of the turn, and things like that.

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When Choosing Your Optimal Stroke Count

As the one who developed the evidence-based calculations behind these particular charts, I am aware of the considerations and assumptions that went into how the green zones were defined.  When looking at this chart for yourself, please realize that there are many factors that can and should affect the expectations you set for your stroke count.  You may fit nicely into that green zone or not.

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Optimal Stroke Count Charts

Some things to keep in mind as you use Stroke Counting…

How far you glide after pushing off from the wall to your first stroke affects your stroke count. If you followed the math calculations above you’ll notice that a short push-off will require you to take an extra stroke or two to reach the far wall, while a long one will allow you to take one or two strokes less.

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Safer – Stronger – Longer

…the safest movement patterns happen to be those that allow the athlete to build greater strength with lower risk for injury. Less injury means they can keep building more strength with less interruption, up to what is appropriate for their body and event. Then it becomes much easier to maintain that strength.

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Embrace The Butterflies

To develop a better relationship with those butterflies you need prepare thoroughly for your racing event. Then you need to trust the training you’ve done. You’ve persistently trained your neuro-muscular system to fall into certain patterns of movement at certain intensities appropriate to this event.

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Learning The 2 Beat Kick – Part 2

Continued from Part 1... Forming The Kick Conveniently, these two roles for the legs - CBF and 2BK - work together seamlessly. The counter-balanced foot position happens to be the poised position for the feet, ready to initiate the next kick on the 2-Beat Kick.  There...

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Learning The 2 Beat Kick – Part 1

The Kick Is An Advanced Skill The 2-Beat Kick is an action of the feet that must be coordinated with the timing of rotation and arm-switch in front, otherwise it has limited or even a confusing effect. It only has the desired effect when it is timed with that rotation...

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Why Choose A 2-Beat Kick?

The decision to use a flutter kick or a 2-Beat Kick is a matter of trade-offs. In the flutter kick the legs are disconnected from the torso in order to produce linear (rearward) thrust that is combined with the pulling action of the arms. But those are two separate actions. The body is divided at the waist so that the lower body can move in a way that serves the kick and the upper body can move in a way that serves the arm strokes.

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Your Kick And Lower Back Pain

If these features are in place, then that lower back has a lot better chance at staying free of irritation and injury because the entire spine now is unified and stable in its neutral alignment, with little or no shear or rotational stress in any particular section. 

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Becoming A New Student Again

But on land, though these movements are, at their core, fighting movements, in our practice there is no opponent, no substance, no external reference point other than gravity, the floor and the walls, to tell me if I am moving the right way. I have found myself closing my eyes and trying to sense how force should be flowing through my body, to feel some sense of purpose to each movement, yet the teacher is reluctant to add that complexity to our instruction so soon. For now I have to aim for the appearance of correct form and trust the teacher’s external feedback and his manner of dispensing the details.

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How To Improve Endurance

When do we need endurance? When we are going really hard? When we are going really fast? When we are going really far?  There is great discomfort in any of these and that discomfort needs to be overcome to finish, Maybe we need endurance in all three, but a different...

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The Challenge Of Going Slow

…strangely enough, that easy zone can be really difficult to stay in too, when its time to work there. It takes a different kind of will-power to make ourselves go slow and easy, against the internal and external expectations we may feel to speed things up.

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Dig Deeper Into The Fundamentals

There is a finite number of macro-skills, but a virtually infinite number of micro-skills, because we break those into smaller and smaller pieces as perception for fine details increases through mindful practice technique. You can get acquainted with the series of skills in a few lessons. But you will take a lifetime to study and make refinements in those micro-skills.

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There Are Consequences

Recently, a TI Coach friend of mine attended a seminar given by a swim coach somewhat well-known in the US triathlon scene. My friend told me she went with an open mind and heart to learn from this coach with a different approach to swimming and I supported her,...

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Surviving or Comfortable or Competitive? Part 4

Continued from Part 3. Training In Cycles And, over the course of a few weeks, your fatigue accumulates. This is something you should expect and actually plan for. Through a process known as periodization, with cycles lasting several weeks, and changing emphasis at...

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Surviving or Comfortable or Competitive? Part 3

Continued from Part 2. From High-Stress To Low Let's say you want to move from 2 hours of swimming (about 5K) to 4 or 5 hours (about 10K). you When you get into swimming events that are more like 4 to 5 hours long, the average citizen athlete may have difficulty...

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