1. Change your thinking from strokes per minute to seconds per stroke.  Instead of frequency, think period. This allows you to do faster analysis of your swimsperiments.   20 strokes @ .9 sec/stroke = 18 seconds. Vs 20 strokes @ 68spm = ?? (Can’t do that math in the pool quickly)
  2. You need to test/ train tempo in a measured setting before you can use it in open water since you can’t measure progress very well
  3. Since pace is the result of stroke rate x Stroke length, paying attention to those 2 variables will help you learn a lot about yoru technique without timing yourself (you can always multiply them to get the time, or look at your watch) But you can’t look at yoru watch until you’re done with a set, so learn to count strokes well.
  4. Each hand entry counts as a stroke (the watch is inaccurate, except for how variable you are, the actual numbers are not helpful)

Some experiments to start with.   

Use a comfortable tempo (70 spm = .86 sec/stroke), and swim 2 sets of 3 x 25.    (So 6 x 25 total)

No breath, right breathing only, left breathing only, repeat. Rest for 5-10 beeps between repeats

Count your strokes.

Be sure to start your first stroke underwater after a consistent # of beeps off the way (3-5 find out what’s comfortable, and be consistent so you can compare)

Progress to 50s if you can taking 1 breath per 50 plus 1 at the wall (open turn on all 50s for comparison) Count your strokes.

This is a fun simple experiment that will usually tell you what you may already know…that breathing reduces stroke length, and that one side is better / worse than the other.  You may have to practice counting strokes before you can be consistent with yoru experiments.  A poolside notepad with a ball point pen is great for tracking different things.

Now with data, you can create a hypothesis…

Example (after warmup)

Tempo .85 sec/stroke

6 x 25 as Breath Right only, breath left only, no breathing, repeat.  Rest 5-10 beeps between repeats, 5 beeps off wall before first stroke.   count strokes.

Stroke Counts by length:

 
1: 20SPL 4: 21 SPL (Left only)
2: 18 SPL 5: 19 SPL (Right only)
3: 17 SPL 6: 18 SPL (No breathing)

Results show left side breathing adds 3 strokes every 25 yds compared to no breaths   At .85 sec/stroke, you’re adding 2.55 seconds / 25 yards due to the slowing down from breathing left.   Over 1 mile  that’s 2.5 minutes.   Right side is better than left side, saving .85 seconds / 25 yards if you only breathed right.

You’ve learned  a lot from this simple experiment.

Hypotheses:

  1. if I practiced alternate breathing I’ll save 1 stroke / length (as opposed to same side breathing).   Test it!
  2. If I improved my breathing form I’ll save 1-3 strokes per length.   Choose a skill, and practice incorporating it into your stroke with and without a breath.  Practice without a tempo trainer ,then practice at a slower tempo (since thinking about your skills will take longer).  Maybe add .15 – .2 seconds to drill with the TT and practice.   You can repeat the test set above at this new tempo and while the stroke cont will / should be different, you can still measure the results and see if you’re improving without having to have a coach, video or time yourself.

This is just 1 test set and 2 ideas that emerge from it.  There are infinite numbers of tempo sets you can do as part of improving your technique. Kirsten or I can share more, but try this one if you havn’t yet and see what you can learn.

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