Sunday, January 14, 2007

Seeing Some Small Improvements

Saturday morning I swam a shortened version of my intended workout of 3,300 meters by dropping a backstroke set of all things and so swam only 2,800 meters instead. Definitely my current workout philosophy, which could be described as ‘faster tempo with quality’, isn’t complimentary with my parallel goal of increasing kilometrage to develop a conditioning base sufficient for racing. This is not to say my overall meters aren’t going up week over week, just the increases have slowed as I place priority on stroke and speed right now. I think Coach Brad, after spending those two sessions of stroke analysis during Christmas, has come to the same conclusion for the team as a whole I did for myself – our pure speed needs boosting. Our practices since then have definitely seen more sprinting sets and the concurrent drop in workout meterage which comes with that.

It was because of this theme of ‘tempo with quality’ I decided to drop my back set. I could have continued and included it in the workout, but it would have needed to be done at an ‘easy’ pace and that’s completely out for anything involving backstroke. Earlier in the workout I did a short 4x50 back swolf to see how my new pace stacks up and found my cycles per fifty meters has increased from seventeen to eighteen, a not so impressive 6% increase in tempo, but from little acorns do mighty oaks grow. We’ll see how well I can increase my rate incrementally over time, as I understand this is something very difficult to do. In notes on the USA Swimming website from the 2001 Australian World Clinic Tony Shaw of Australia is quoted saying, “Start teaching them about rate early on in the teaching progression – don’t want pretty backstrokers that can’t turn over.” Ouch! In a similar half-hearted pat on the back butterfly is also seeing a certain amount of progress as I’m starting to learn how to swim it at less than full throttle. At least I think that’s good since it will mean I can choose to avoid blowing up in my upcoming 100 fly by simply swimming more slowly, a choice I’ve not had until now. It takes a lot of pressure off me and will make progressing at whatever rate I manage to do much more palatable (as well as less painful).


Joe said...

Nice! I wish I could swim butterfly slowly but I just seem to get even more tired when I do.

Isis said...

There's a lot to be said for quality over quantity. My old coach used to warn us frequently about "garbage yarage," which he said was worse than not swimming.

And perhaps periodization is something to consider here: now is the time for quality, and then later, once you've got your strokes feeling better (I was going to say "good," but I have yet to feel that way), then volume could be the thing for a while. Until you want to get faster, when you pick the speed back up.

And (sorry this is getting so long) good work on the fly. I am still working on that. do you have any pointers for learning to swim fly at speeds other than all out?

Scott said...

I noticed I could swim the single arm fly drill for seemingly forever and figured it must be because of the combination of the extra body undulation (taking advantage of fly’s superior ability to harness wave propulsion), the natural pause at the end of each single stroke, and not trying to lift myself out of the water during recovery. After a little experimentation I’ve found if I delay my first kick until just after my hands enter the water rather than immediately upon entering, work my undulation, and coast a fraction of a second before starting the pull, I gain a moment of rest as well as the distance gained while coasting. Later I discovered emphasizing my body undulation even during the recovery stroke gets me back into the water sooner so less air time. I figure it looks a little awkward (and slow) but better than those pseudo flyers who don’t even attempt to get out of the water on their recovery. Watching them I always think it looks like they’re downing (and the only reason I swim fly is to look good doing it!)

Isis said...

Well, the whole goal of swimming is to look good, right? That's why we do all those flip turns, so no one will think we don't know what we are doing!

But thanks for the tips. I'm going to read them again and think about that when swimming tomorrow, see if it works.