Spear High or Low?

Today I swam 3300m, starting at 15:15. The pool was 29.5 degrees C.

2x [4×25 focus on catch, 2×50 focus on reach, 100 sprint-burst ½ length]

5x [4×50 TempoTrainer ladder, 50 recovery]

TT 1.05 TT 1.00 TT .95 TT 1.00 TT 1.05
Time, SPL held Time, SPL held Time, SPL held Time, SPL held Time, SPL held
All :45, 18-19 All :43, 18-19 :40, :43, :43, :42 18-19 SPL :42, :42, :43, :43 17-18 SPL :42, :43… 17-18

5×100 SPL ladder 16/15/14/15/16

100 recovery

100 timed, count SPL. Came in at 1:21 with SPL at 14, 17, 17, 18

2x [25kk/25 FR, 50KK/25FR, 75KK/25FR] rotating BK position, w/ zoomers

100 timed, count SPL. Came in at 1:21 with SPL at 15, 17, 18, 18

200 recovery


The warmup was focused on the catch position and reach choreography. Then I did some speed bursts to get my shoulders warmed up for the fast tempo set.

There is something in the catch I need to improve upon at high SR. My elbows don’t remain as high at higher SR. I also tried speeding up my recovery arm to help it feel more normal.

I have come to see the value of these high tempo sets in terms of conditioning my neuromuscular system to move through the stroke sequence more quickly, comfortably. But I do not tend to swim faster just because I am pushed by a faster tempo. So I was not focused on swimming ‘fast’ but on discovering how I could tidy up the whole stroke to bring it around on tempo without strain.

My BIG DISCOVERY- my spear-hand target seems to be too high! I first focused on turning my shoulder to follow the straight path through the water created by my spearing hand (which also empowers the catch) but then I noticed how high my hand was at the beginning of the catch. A hand catching too high would mean that I either had to drop the elbow to pull back that shallow, or I would have to pull down before I could pull back which would ‘feel’ like I was working, but actually I would be wasting effort on a useless downward vector.

So I started aiming for a lower target which felt a little awkward- on one hand because it felt like the hand and forearm were been resisted by the water more, yet on the other hand it put the hand in a deeper position for the catch which could then pull back with a high elbow, and pull back SOONER. This resulted in a more powerful stroke that I could hold at a high tempo. But it still felt awkward and messed with the whole sense of timing (I have a VERY patient hand) I have developed for low SPL distance swimming. A high spear-target makes it feel like I am cutting the water better at high SR, but it may also be creating a gap or ‘dead-spot’ in the stroke sequence which could end up making a net-loss in the drag-propulsion equation.

I have still not recovered the ground I lost while sick these last 2 weeks but I did the 5×100 hold SPL so I could balance out the high tempo work- working on both SL and SR aspects of the stroke together. When I slowed the SR back down for the SPL work I focused on aiming for a lower spear-target too. It was easier and more natural because I curve to that target rather than jab at it, and I have more time to get there. The drag that hits the downward tilted hand is the signal to catch. But when in sprint mode I need to hit that deeper target directly, so I am ready for the catch immediately as the recovery hand enters the water.

I did the timed 100s hoping for a PR but really I didn’t know how I’d perform today. 1:21 was encouraging and I did it focusing on the deeper spear-target rather than on the shallow, rolling form I was playing with in previous timed sprints. Maybe I need to do a comparison between these two forms: ‘shallow-catch and sin-wave’ versus ‘deep catch and strong-straight rotate’ and see how they affect my sense of exertion and speed, and other variables.

I did the second timed 100 just because I still had some juice in me and wanted to see how consistently I could perform with that form while tired. I felt a bit more tired because of the kick set but I held the same time. I am disappointed to see how many strokes I added after the first 25. I wish I could get 25 splits to see how I was distributing my effort across the distance. I try to calculate my restraint on the first 25, but I need some data to connect to the feelings I am recording.


Please add a constructive comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s