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Chlorine Chronicle (Archive)

NMSC Apr/98 Newsletter

Swimbits

by Cathy Merritt

In the current issue of Fitness Swimmer, there is an article describing how to race the 100 Free. Much of it is the usual stuff about keeping your stroke long, rolling enough, staying streamlined, etc. but I thought the following was an interesting way of looking at the strategy.

Before you ever step onto a starting block, you should know the answer to two questions about yourself: How many seconds can you swim at all-out intensity? Once you've exhausted that energy, how much longer can you gut it out, hold your stroke together, and keep swimming fast? You'll find the answers during workouts, while doing repeat 50s, 75s, or 100s. Go as fast as you can in one and see what happens. Some swimmers can push 100 percent for only 15 to 20 seconds; others might hold it for 30 to 35 seconds. Once it's over, few can manage many more stroke cycles, maybe 10 to 12 yards, before falling apart. "You have to find out how many stroke cycles you can swim and maintain your form on will and muscle memory alone after you've run out of gas", says Laughlin [Terry Laughlin, Total Immersion coach].

The secret to a successful 100 is to plan backward, says Boomer [Bill Boomer, a technique consultant for the Stanford University swim team]. "From the finish to the blocks", he says. It's not as hard as it sounds. By answering the two basic questions, you've learned that you can cover, say, 10 yards on guts alone. That's the finishing segment -- the final 10 yards to the finish. You've also learned that you can swim, say, 20 seconds at all-out effort, maybe 35 yards. This is the maximum-power segment. So that's 10 yards from the wall, plus another 35 yards back toward the start, or 45 yards in all. That's when -- 45 yards from the finish -- you should make the transition into all-out swimming effort. Leading up to this point is the building segment. You should gradually accelerate toward the top speed you'll hold during the third segment. This takes you back to the start, which includes the dive and the number of yards you need to settle into a smooth and comfortable rhythm.

[from "Swim Your Best 100", by Stephen Harris, Fitness Swimmer, April/May 1998, p.36.]


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