Swimming Slowly

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Swimming Slowly

Post by cottmiler on Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:54 am

An interesting routine that I have been doing lately is as follows:

Start out by doing 300 m of Fist Drill but swimming very carefully and slowly in order to optimise forearm pressure, body roll and balance. Bilateral breathing.

Next do 300 m of normal hand swimming again going carefully and accurately. Keeping head still, legs straight, one goggle under water etc..

Now do 300 m using Finis Freestyler paddles. attempting all the correct actions.

By going very slowly with all three methods of propulsion, you give yourself time to check that all the actions are right.

And there are a lot of them! Back at home I keep a spreadsheet with all the items on and update and add when I find something new.




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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by Sprinter on Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:57 pm

As you might imagine, I am rather sceptical about this.

First I think that at the level of movement patterns, a slow swimming movement is very different from a faster one. As an extreme example, from doing slow punches you learn nothing about doing fast punches. Balance and the engagement of muscles (at all, and dynamically) is very different.

Then the water behaves very different when moving faster. And there are different turbulences.

With a slow frequency you can't have any form of decent kick (so you learn not to kick).

Last, but not least, there is the emotional and mental aspect.  Likely you *learn* to dislike higher frequencies. But the opposite should be true: one needs to get used to higher frequencies, so that it feels *slow*.

So my take is that with such slow-motion you condition yourself to swim slow.

Not to forget: "to check all the actions are right" -- what is "right" here?

I come more and more to the conclusion (after having spent too many years with low frequencies), that the high frequencies are our friends (with "our" I have especially the late starters in mind).

Currently the really best feeling in the water I have with 85 strokes/min. Then everything fits together. No rush, no waiting. It seems better on the joints, since not pulling with maximum effort. Here a little poetry to convey how it is:

The Flutter flutters.
The Pull pulls.
I am in the water and swim.
Straight and forward.

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by SA on Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:40 pm

I think it is rather personal. I like more force at a lower strokerate  more. Same with skating, where i like long big strokes, and also on the bike pedaling in a rather high gear. Its all the same principle.
Other folks move more natural at a lower gear lower force, higher strokerate. Its not right or wrong.
Both styles can be efficient. Its useless to try to  convince people to adopt a style that doesnt fit their natural style.

paddles shift the pressure point of the arm toward the hand, so you have to adapt stroke mechanics to the paddle to avoid pulling your body off track. I like the shake up paddles give on your balance and the fresh feedback.

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by Sprinter on Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:57 am

SA wrote:I think it is rather personal. I like more force at a lower strokerate  more. Same with skating, where i like long big strokes, and also on the bike pedaling in a rather high gear. Its all the same principle.
Other folks move more natural at a lower gear lower force, higher strokerate. Its not right or wrong.
Both styles can be efficient. Its useless to try to  convince people to adopt a style that doesnt fit their natural style.

I think the "natural style" is an illusion, in general. For a long time I also thought my "natural style" would be slow and long (in the range from 50-60 SPM), which was a very bad thing for my swimming.

Then the basic approach was of extremely slow motions, which I think do not make much sense (except for very slow swimming). Moreover, they might be harmful.

Then in swimming the differences are relatively tiny; a number which I heard often is that the minimum stroke rate for adults / late starters should be 60 strokes per minute (that sounds reasonable to me). So it's not about different muscles types etc. Perhaps numbers in the 70s are reasonable for ambitious late starters.

A late starter just can't do slow stroke rates (efficiently). Nothing to fill out the vast empty times (than overrotation, overstretching and other over's).

And there is absolutely no need for them! Say from 50 SPM to 70 SPM is nothing from an absolute perspective, but changes the swimming dramatically.

The problem is that it takes time to get used to higher stroke rates. Perhaps 1-3 months.

With the higher stroke rates comes also a more muscle- and water-feeling oriented swimming. I believe seeing is rather unimportant in general.

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by SA on Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:19 am

You could be right. I never have tried only shorter strokes at a higher rate.
Usually I cycle between long and short strokes. There is a certain minimum strokerate to get into a rhythm, but you can easily overdo the rhythm, or get into a high strokerate that seems faster than it actually is.
Swimming at longer strokes is mainly a stretch and strenght exercise. Getting hold on the water as much upfront as possible (and finishing)while keeping as aligned as possible.
Over time the  range of motion increases so the weird angles becme a little less weird. Strenght to hold the stroke together at higher rates slowly increases too. Its also an interesting game to keep constant traction while taking long strokes.
When you are fresh and stretched out taking big leaps through the water feels pretty good.
I hope to swim a bit like Manadou some day
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GFWB8HYOoI.
Swimming at higher rate also has its advantages.Maybe I will try that approach some time too.

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by nightcrawler on Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:58 am

cottmiler wrote:An interesting routine that I have been doing lately is as follows:

Start out by doing 300 m of Fist Drill but swimming very carefully and slowly in order to optimise forearm pressure, body roll and balance.  Bilateral breathing.

Next do 300 m of normal hand swimming again going carefully and accurately.  Keeping head still, legs straight, one goggle under water etc..

Now do 300 m using Finis Freestyler paddles. attempting all the correct actions.  

By going very slowly with all three methods of propulsion, you give yourself time to check that all the actions are right.

And there are a lot of them!  Back at home I keep a spreadsheet with all the items on and update and add when I find something new.


Noone can persuade me that swimming under cool down pace will make me a better swimmer. Tried many times, focused on just technique on super slow speeds, paid attention on every detail... But there is something that will be never forgotten:
When you try to swim faster the technique changes, it reverts to the another technique that of the speed that you want to swim. So as a result we may say that every speed should have its own technique.

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by Sprinter on Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:35 pm

SA wrote:You could be right. I never have tried only shorter strokes at a higher rate.

The "shorter strokes" do not matter / appear for me.
My feeling is that the higher rates just remove the excesses.

SA wrote:
Usually I cycle between long and short strokes. There is a certain minimum strokerate to get into a rhythm, but you can easily overdo the rhythm, or get into a high strokerate that seems faster than it actually is.
It seems to me that one just needs practice with the higher stroke rates.
If one is not used to them, then there might even be some form of "panic". But after some time, time stretches.
An interesting phenomenon. Suddenly you have more time -- you check the stroke rate, yes, still the same, but it seems slower.

SA wrote:
Swimming at longer strokes is mainly a stretch and strength exercise. Getting hold on the water as much upfront as possible (and finishing)while keeping as aligned as possible.
Over time the  range of motion increases so the weird angles become a little less weird. Strength to hold the stroke together at higher rates slowly increases too. Its also an interesting game to keep constant traction while taking long strokes.
I believe acceleration plays an important role here.

SA wrote:
When you are fresh and stretched out taking big leaps through the water feels pretty good.
That's actually a very important point (at least perhaps for my transition to the higher stroke rates): namely when you are NOT fresh and stretched out (relaxed), then I don't get the lower stroke rates to work! It improves a bit after say, 30 min, but it never gets good. So the workout is weak.

ON THE CONTRARY, the high stroke rates nearly always work! Sure, you might be a bit slower, but not so much. It's amazing, the higher stroke rates seem refreshing, and you get a good workout, always.
Sore upper-body muscles for example really destroy the lower stroke rates for me, but not much of a problem with the higher ones

SA wrote:
I hope to swim a bit like Manadou some day
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GFWB8HYOoI.
That seems to be around 80 SPM, easy going.
I have also heard from others watching him, then he would never go lower than that.
For the races it seems more like 120 SPM.

Those Speedo-videos with him have been heavily debated, and with good reasons as it seems to me: it is said that he never swims in training session like that, was only for those videos, where he wanted to do some "special".

SA wrote:
Swimming at higher rate also has its advantages.Maybe I will try that approach some time too.
Perhaps just do it when your body doesn't allow to do the lower stroke rates.

But I wouldn't artificially shorten the stroke. My understanding is one needs always to go "as long as possible".

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by s.sciame on Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:56 pm

Sprinter wrote:
SA wrote:
I hope to swim a bit like Manadou some day
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GFWB8HYOoI.
That seems to be around 80 SPM, easy going.
I have also heard from others watching him, then he would never go lower than that.
For the races it seems more like 120 SPM.

Right, so easy going that it seemed less than 80SPM.

Here he's around 115SPM (see from min 2:25, this is how to swim 25m in less than 10s from a pushoff by the way):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVEf6qTXPsM

Salvo

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by SA on Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:25 pm

Thats very slow swimming stuff is less usefull for Nightcrawler or other swimmers who have little things that are not going quite right.
If you have some stroke issues its hard to find out whats wrong sometimes if you always swim at the same effort.
Swimming super slow can give you extra time to process whats happening. Sprint swimming can also clear up things.
Its a drill to fix problems or hardwire rough movement patterns. Nothing more, nothing less.

Its all very nice to say swim at higher strokerate, but how short do I have to make my strokes?
The limiter is output power, or swim speed. If I want to double my strokerate I have to half my strokelength.
Cant double the strokerate because power goes up with the cube of speed and available power is fixed.
Suppose you swim at 15-20 strokes per 25 m and your max speed is 1 min30 per 100 m. Should you go to 25 strokes per 25 m to reach high strokerates?
And how do you shorten the stroke efficiently?

the slow swimming style (for him) at 2 min 10 is good for reaching out, setting an elbow,pull past it etc hardwire these actions until they become automatic.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVEf6qTXPsM
This style still isnt totally automatic in my case, so I find swimming this style usefull.
All those guys swim that way when they are not sprinting. Why? Doesnt look much like the sprinting stroke.

I agree the speedo clips go over the top with that slow extreme catchup swimming.

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by Sprinter on Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:07 pm

SA wrote:Thats very slow swimming stuff is less usefull for Nightcrawler or other swimmers who have little things that are not going quite right.
If you have some stroke issues, its hard to find out what's wrong sometimes if you always swim at the same effort.
Swimming super slow can give you extra time to process what's happening.

But not as an exercise, only as something done a few times.
As Nightcrawler said, swimming with low speed is just something very different, and so no muscular patterns should be learned.

SA wrote:
Sprint swimming can also clear up things.
Its a drill to fix problems or hardwire rough movement patterns. Nothing more, nothing less.
What the muscles are doing, and how we perceive this, is FAR more important to swimming than any kind of visual observation (for us). Sprinting is swimming itself, while (very) slow swimming is just a temporary crutch.

SA wrote:
Its all very nice to say swim at higher strokerate, but how short do I have to make my strokes?
Very easy -- just DO it. No thinking.
That's just in the way, that feeling of guilt etc. "am I doing something wrong?".
These kind of feelings are naturally nourished by slow swimming, and eliminated by fast swimming (no time to do nonsense).

With a higher stroke rate, all these technical elements come with a natural moderation, it's very hard to overdo that -- and I believe that's very valuable (especially for us late starters). And you start feeling the body, the water, the *muscles*, you are swimming somehow *in* the water, not in space.

SA wrote:
The limiter is output power, or swim speed. If I want to double my strokerate I have to half my strokelength.
Not at all, since first with increasing the strokerate you cut out the waste, the dead times.
At the beginning of the stroke, at the end, and during the recovery.

SA wrote:
Cant double the strokerate because power goes up with the cube of speed and available power is fixed.
Ordinary hydrodynamics says it's the square, not the cube. The whole body seems to create waves, and thus some say here it's a bit more than the square, but that shouldn't apply to a single hand.

One has enough power reserves where it counts, below the body.

SA wrote:
Suppose you swim at 15-20 strokes per 25 m and your max speed is 1 min30 per 100 m. Should you go to 25 strokes per 25 m to reach high strokerates?
My experience is "forget the stroke count, just go for the natural feeling".
Just increase the stroke rate, and feel what happens.

I don't feel well most often with the tiny increases by SwimSmooth. Mostly I use the Wetronome in mode 1, sec per beep, and go 0.9 sec, 0.8 sec, 0.7 sec, 0.6 sec, 0.5 sec.

SA wrote:
And how do you shorten the stroke efficiently?
I believe after some time the natural feeling comes by itself. Good streamlining, good engagement of the lats, an active and quick arm entrance, good constant feeling of power.

As I said, for me the feeling is not of "shortening" something, but that an excess is removed.

SA wrote:
the slow swimming style (for him) at 2 min 10 is good for reaching out, setting an elbow,pull past it etc hardwire these actions until they become automatic.

I can't presceipe absolute speeds, I would just say "go for a faster stroke rate" -- the "details" have be determined later  Cool

SA wrote:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVEf6qTXPsM
This style still isnt totally automatic in my case, so I find swimming this style usefull.
I guess it never will be "totally automatic" for us.

SA wrote:
All those guys swim that way when they are not sprinting. Why? Doesnt look much like the sprinting stroke.

I believe the adult starter needs to use a higher stroke rate than the professional swimmer.

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by SA on Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:14 am

You seem pretty convinced on this Sprinter. I am not totally convinced, but your enthousiasm is inspiring.
At the same time you could also be an ex TI swimmer who got stuck in a jerky overgliding staccato stroke and now has gone the comlete opposite way.Going from extreme left to extreme right in politics. Smile
There is a happy medium between overthinker and going all the way totally on feel and have no idea what you are doing.
With a coach its easier to all the way and let the coach check if you are not going in the wrong direction.
Without a coach you have to find some ways to check if your movements are really what you think they are.
Slow swimming can be a way to check some things. I agree you shouldnt do much of it. 5 minutes per session is enough.You just cant concentrate intensely longer than 5 minutes
I have had very bad swims when I tried to figure out things by swimming only slow for a whole session.
Can completely drain your energy and leave you unsatisfied. Certainly if you  cant speed up anymore from that slow swimming if you try.affraid
But at other times  some slow swimming  cleared up some breasthing or arm action mechanisms that where moving in the wrong direction.

its strange that very slow swimming is easy (going in floatation mode), and high effort swimming (propulsion mode) is easy, but the transition from the floation state to the mostly propulsion forces is difficult.
[Maybe this has something to do with the difference between slow and fast swimming or its a matter of skill.
When swimming very slow you can discover certain movements and then it seems a good idea to use these movements at a higher speed.
I still havent figured out in what ways this really is a good idea because i cant bridge the comfortable gap between very slow and fast yet.

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by SA on Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:52 am

I do belive Gr hall is right that loping is a hybrid between shoulder driven and hip driven stroke.
You see it all the tine,
slow swimming in catchup timing (manadou at 2 min 10)
semy sprint in loping style one fast catch, one skate out side (manaou outside pool against butterflyer)
Sprint more windmilling symmetrical styl again (manadou 10 second 25 m sprint)

in that sense you can say. slow swimming has nothing to do with fast swimming regarding timing and following rhythm.

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by Sprinter on Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:25 am

SA wrote:You seem pretty convinced on this Sprinter. I am not totally convinced, but your enthusiasm is inspiring.
Around two years ago, I already tried to move to higher frequencies. Although the body-feeling was good, since at this time I had far too much rotation and superfluous movement, the speed-results weren't convincing, and so I went back "to the drawing board". This time it feels right.

One aspect one can train very well with the higher stroke rates (perhaps even only here), and which seems very important to me, is RELAXED SPEED. It feels really good to swim reasonably fast without pulling like crazy. You can concentrate on the various usual aspects, AND you can concentrate on relaxation.

Also you can nearly always swim with the higher stroke rates, the stroke is much less volatile.

Yesterday I had in the morning weight training. Directly then to the swimming pool, and starting with 0.9 sec/stroke, the muscles felt already sore and worn out. So I transitioned rather quickly to my now favourite 0.7 sec/stroke, and there I did 25m's, in the range from 16.8 s to 16.1 s; the latter when enforcing good form (especially good streamlining, squeezing the shoulder blades together), but only rarely; most swims around, say, 16.5 s. Sure, that's not spectacular, but it feels good. I look at all the typical aspects (in turn), but the "wholesome" movement naturally avoids excess.

Today then in the 50m pool, and the upper body was now really sore. So with the initial 0.9 sec/stroke I was superslow, around 47.5 s. With 0.8 s/stroke, I hovered a while around 41 s, and then again my favourite 0.7 sec/stroke (now on the ultra-long distance Smile ), which I did in the range from 37 s to 38.5 s. One 0.6 sec/stroke, in 35 s. Sure, that's little length per stroke, but I think that doesn't matter (wasn't removed from the pool  Cool ): It still delivers a good work-out, and it would have been just awful with a low stroke rate, just very slow and frustrating.

SA wrote:
At the same time you could also be an ex TI swimmer who got stuck in a jerky overgliding staccato stroke and now has gone the comlete opposite way.Going from extreme left to extreme right in politics. Smile
That overgliding-phase I fortunately started overcoming around 4 1/2 years ago. Since then it wasn't a major problem (much more so the overrotation).

SA wrote:
There is a happy medium between overthinker and going all the way totally on feel and have no idea what you are doing.
Swimming with a higher stroke rate doesn't mean at all you are "not knowing what you are doing". It just removes the imbalance in the swimming, caused by too slow swimming (no kick, too much time for over-stretching, over-rotation, over-arching).
The whole swim becomes more of a whole.

SA wrote:
With a coach its easier to all the way and let the coach check if you are not going in the wrong direction.
Without a coach you have to find some ways to check if your movements are really what you think they are.
Absolutely. Thus I try to have some form of swim-clinic with video-recording, or some one-to-one session every 3-6 months. Next one is Monday; let's see ...

SA wrote:
Slow swimming can be a way to check some things.
I think also for exercises the speed can't be too far away from you "ordinary" speed. Say, I believe doing some exercise with 40 strokes/min will have zero correlation to my new standard stroke of 85 strokes/min, while an exercise with 60 strokes/min should be fine.

SA wrote:
I agree you shouldn't do much of it. 5 minutes per session is enough.You just can't concentrate intensely longer than 5 minutes
I have had very bad swims when I tried to figure out things by swimming only slow for a whole session.
I would believe than you would overdo things.

SA wrote:
Can completely drain your energy and leave you unsatisfied. Certainly if you  cant speed up anymore from that slow swimming if you try.affraid
But at other times  some slow swimming  cleared up some breathing or arm action mechanisms that where moving in the wrong direction.
I believe I have now all the basic elements together, so I can't imagine that doing something slow would help me (was also never proposed to me by any coach).

SA wrote:
it's strange that very slow swimming is easy (going in floatation mode), and high effort swimming (propulsion mode) is easy, but the transition from the floation state to the mostly propulsion forces is difficult.
Don't know what you mean here.

SA wrote:
[Maybe this has something to do with the difference between slow and fast swimming or its a matter of skill.
When swimming very slow you can discover certain movements and then it seems a good idea to use these movements at a higher speed.
I still haven't figured out in what ways this really is a good idea because i cant bridge the comfortable gap between very slow and fast yet.

I never "discovered movements". Perhaps my fault, or it isn't a good idea, or it is a question of words/interpretation. My search during swim is mostly about "finding the power", under "natural conditions". It's less prescribing a movement for me, more "finding" a movement.

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Re: Swimming Slowly

Post by SA on Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:06 am

I think the main thing slow swimming teaches is semi static balance. Around the axis and horizontal balance.
On a basic level it teaches how arm and leg and posture changes disturb or restore basic balance.

I think the around the axis balance is the most differnt from normal speed swimming. The inertia effect of the body at higher strokerates and how to deal with it changes dramatically at higher strokerates.

Tour de france bicylist can easily balance on their bike standing still  ususally. Does that make them make fast?
Swimming very slow is like this bike balancing or walking in slow motion.

Max sprints take a lot of force. Swimming 10% slower already feels very relaxed compared to max effort and is very relaxed compared to all out power. (To my knowledge power goes up or down with the cube of speed, force with the square of speed.)
Manadou swimming his catchup stroke is looking very relaxed while he probalbly still swims 1 min 10 per 100.
This is very relaxed for him because he can almost swim 45 sec per 100.

Since you are a sprinter, and talk about earlier overrotation, you probably are into relatively much shoulder rotation and little hip rotation now. Hips kept steady with a powerfull flutterkick.
A slow swimming drill for sprinters is focussing on shoulder rotation while  limiting hip rotation, but without a stabilising kick.  Twisting shoulders from the hips, but driven from inside the body.
Legs and hips are used as the staic solid foundation to turn the upperbody from.
Maybe you like that focus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7vKqUSYZpM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R1K9qOvnQE

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