SWOLF Part Two
Following on from part one. Here's part two of our swim efficiency blog post. In today's post we discuss Stroke rate, Stroke count (or distance per stroke), Technique (and how much water you're pushing behind yourself) and Pacing or the law of diminishing returns.
1. Stroke rate
We know that for many swimmers, and particularly beginners, when your stroke rate is below 60 per minute, you won't have constant motion through the water. It will be more of a stop/start, since you'll be gliding too far on each stroke, and effectively speeding up and slowing down on each stroke. If your stroke count is between 40 and 50 you'll be doing this for sure, and probably swimming with straight arms underwater.
You can measure and improve this by using a tempo trainer in mode 3, and gradually increasing your stroke rate by 2 every 50 metres. We would recommend you do this with a coach, so they can check the point where you reach the law of diminishing returns.
2. Stroke count
If you're doing more than 28 strokes per 25-metre length, then you would be wise to try and reduce this to increase your distance per stroke (DPS) to a more efficient level under 25 per length. The theory here is that your hand and forearm would be slipping through the water more, instead of catching the water better with a high and early vertical forearm. This links in with your technique and pacing.
You want to try and increase your DPS, which will see a subsequent reduction in your stroke count without increasing your stroke count. Things to look out for if you're struggling are crossing over the mid-line of your body, kicking incorrectly or even having a poor body position.
Maintaining positive pressure on the water with your hand, all the way through the stroke underwater is vital to getting the most from your DPS. Achieving an early vertical forearm position of around 90 -100 degrees, a high body position, kicking with your legs straight, and rotating your body evenly to 45 degrees on a long axis from your core and hips will make you much more streamlined and improve your swim efficiency.