Monday, November 4, 2013

Doing it wrong . . .

Well, after several years of teaching myself to swim, and getting frustrated at my consistently mediocre results, I signed up for a swim class.  Last Wednesday, I discovered I'd been doing it wrong . . .  Who knew that you were supposed to wait until your trailing arm was almost back to the front before dropping the lead arm and pulling . . . All of a sudden I have more power, more shoulder rotation.  Instead of taking 12 strokes per lap, it's down to 10 strokes per lap, and a few seconds per lap faster in the bargain. . .


  1. Sweet. And a good image to take into my workout today. We used to do catch-up drills -- touch hands out front between strokes -- in high school swimming, but I never really understood the purpose.

    Your description evokes two opposite pictures. One is the windmill, of which I am, as it sounds like you have been, guilty. The second is a rubber band being loaded up and then snapping, whereby the body unwinding is what drives the arm through the water. Maybe not unlike a smooth golf swing or overhand throw.

    Or maybe I'm totally misunderstanding, but I like this image. Can't wait to try it.

  2. Yes. Your two metaphors get it right. Today I got it down to 9 strokes on a number of laps. The problem is I can't keep it up for more than about 200 yards . . .

  3. Ted, I'm somewhat stunned that your "strokes per length" have dropped from 12 to 9. Are you in a 25-yard pool? If so, that is almost unfathomably low for someone who's not Michael Phelps. Most of the best triathlon swimmers I know, former D1 athletes, are in the 14-17 stroke-per-length range. I ask this only because, if you're not an elite swimmer, it's almost certain that you have too much glide, and not enough propulsion, with numbers like that. If so, you'd probably have much to gain by increasing arm turnover rate.

    A running analogy might help make the point. You said you're fatiguing after 200 yards, which isn't surprising: taking 9 strokes per length is like trying to run a 10k by bounding as far as you can with each stride. By doing so, you might achieve the same stride length as the Kenyans, but few of us can pull that off. We're better off going with a quicker stride rate.

    Just my two cents, as someone who's never even met you!

    1. I assumes Ted meant 24-18, i.e., counting two arms as a stroke.

  4. Yes. That is correct. My watch counts each stroke with my left arm as one.