Smooth Strokes Blog

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You Might Be Holding Breath Too Long

When you rest just enough after strenuous repeats, those cells get what they need to immediately get back to swimming. You need to rest because it takes time for the respiratory/circulatory system to get stuff there, to resupply what will be so quickly used up in the moment ahead. There is a lag time between muscle action and respiration catching up. When you take off on the next repeat, your cells will immediately be using up supplies faster than the blood stream can resupply, and you will feel the stress of that in the form of breathlessness.

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The Hardships We Face

I both run and swim year round. In the last year or so I've put a lot more emphasis on running, and felt the corresponding motivation for that activity. Back in April, after a week off from illness, I irritated my achilles tendon on the first (allegedly 'easy') run...

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Not Just What To Learn, But How

Usually, when I observe or experience training of another kind, the instructor is giving good, even amazing ideas to the students. However, it is often unfortunate that their manner of teaching it could be so much better. We may judge a good learning experience, not...

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Flip Turns Or Open Turns At The Wall?

…if you are not intending to race in a pool, and you don’t have strong reasons to use a flip turn otherwise, then I would recommend that you learn to do a good open turn. You still approach the wall in the same way as a flip turn, and you still push off and glide in streamline in the same way to that first stroke. The difference is in the position of the body at the wall, as you turn the body.

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Do You Have A Proper Training Diet?

If you do it yourself, how do you plan your training?  Or, if that sounds unappealing and you prefer to use the training materials created by someone else, how do they create their training plans?  Is there an obvious logic behind it? Are there principles? Tradition?...

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Amazing Things Can Happen In A Week

Amazing things can happen when you occasionally set aside the time and energy to spend five, six or even seven days in a row focused on your swimming. 

Yes, if you are working the body every day for so many days, you will get tired over that many days when you are not used to it. Yes, you will need to rest, but we’re talking just one week here, and you can also make sure you get very good sleep each night between.  Though you will get tired in one way, you will feel so much stronger in others…

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Small Steps Toward A Longer Stroke

This is a simplified example to give you an idea of how to set a goal for an incremental increase in ability, like focusing on just the first step ahead, rather than thinking about the second step, or those you will take weeks later. The strength and skill you need for the second step is developed while you are taking that first step.

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The Importance Of Making Small Steps

When you start working toward your goal of a longer or faster stroke, you do well to set a smaller goal that takes you in that direction, then get to work on taking a small step toward it. The bigger the improvement goal you have set, the smaller those steps may need to be (or appear to be in comparison to how far you need to go). 

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When Change Feels Risky

Changing your patterns for moving, in swimming or running as well as any other powerful athletic movement form, can be difficult. There are a lot of factors that can make it easier or harder than it seems to be for others. But if you are reading this blog, you are...

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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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