Training with purpose and precision is awesome. This morning I played in the water with my trusty litte Finis Tempo Trainer and made each stroke count. I urge you all to consider adding one of these to your swim bag.
On this particular day I focused on validating what tempo I should be using to maximize my extension, catch, and finish phase for a 1:10/yd pace. The Finis Tempo Trainer allows you to set a metronome ranging from insanely fast to uber slow. Far too many triathletes focus on splits and speed alone. Unfortunately, too little attention is drawn to HOW to enhance ones speed more efficiently and in less time. For this post I will simply share my findings and I hope you can apply them to your swim training. This workout also used the Finis Freestyle Snorkel and old school swim paddles (http://www.metroswimshop.com/showDetailAction.do?productID=StrokeMaker_Paddles_M).
Tempo Trainer Setting / Split / Stroke Count
1:30 / 1:22 / 9 to 11 per 25
1:25 / 1:13 / 10 to 11 " "
1:20 / 1:12 / 10 to 12 " "
1:15 / 1:12 / 10 to 12 " "
1:10 / 1:11 / 10 to 12 " "
1:05 / 1:09 / 10 to 12 " "
1:00 / 1:08 / 10 to 13 " "
1:00 / 1:08 / 10 to 13 " "
1:10 / 1:10 / 10 to 12 " "
...next 5 100s were at 1:09 to 1:10 range w/ same stroke count range...
The last 100 was done without paddles, but at same tempo setting of 1:10 to produce a 1:13/100. Clearly, there is a mechanical advantage when using the paddles.
It is important to start off conservatively when trying to establish our tempo setting. After completing each 100 assess your swim split against the stroke rate and exertion used. In this case I was opting to find a comfortably hard tempo setting; 1:10/100 yard intensity. Depending on your fitness level and training/racing goals this tempo can be adjusted accordingly. As you can see above, the 1:30 tempo produced a pace that is more reflective of IM pacing (IML 2011 swim pace of 1:21/100 yds).
For this 30 min workout I wanted to stress my lungs and lats. It was accomplished. I decided my threshold for this particular day was at the 1:00 setting as I began to speed up my stroke rate to stay with the tempo trainer (take note of the 13s noted above). After posting two 100s at a 13 stroke rate I backed it off to a 1:10 tempo.
As a side note, I do believe for calm open water swimming one can use a relatively low stroke rate vs. a quick one. The key is to find your optimal stroke rate for all racing conditions; choppy water vs. calm water. Moreover, one must also understand that in the opening 100 to 500 yards of a triathlon a more aggressive stroke rate may be required to break from the pack. On the flip side, some would rather hold a super conservative angle when hitting the water. Either approach works.
The key is to make each swim count. I don't like spinning my wheels or accumulating yards for yards sake. I urge you to consider using a Finis Tempo Trainer so as to maximize your training time. Feel free to share your thoughts/questions in the comment box below!
Train smart and enjoy the process,