In More Hot Water

Unless the university pool heater breaks down again this year, or we just have extraordinary cold weather, I might have to get used to this hot water and scrap my plans to do sprint work this winter. [Olypmic swimming standards call for 25-28 C in a competition pool. From my experience 29 C is about max for full exertion levels to feel normal- 30 C and above and over-heating becomes a serious risk for anyone not acclimated, especially if there is no way to cool down with a hose or in cool air.] But such hot water is heaven for all the children in lessons and struggling adults who putter around in this pool. Rarely do I encounter a seriously training swimmer here so my needs are not so important I know.

Anyhow, I swam 3000m today at Akdeniz University pool. The pool was 31.5 C !!!! Started at 9:15

6x [1x 100m Fist, 4x 100m Open Hand] with the objective of dialing in 15 SPL in my new stroke pattern, making that stroke as relaxed and efficient as possible. Keep exertion under heat-threshold.

Now there are a ton of good reasons to break up a pool practice into smaller sets- with boredom being one of the most compelling. But there might be a few good reasons to do big ones too. Long-distance OW work has exposed me to the power of imprinting certain stroke thoughts or details over long, uninterrupted distances (though I break them down into 100 or 250-stroke count repeats). Done well, the mind and body totally focus in and everything gradually loosens up, the thought or pattern starts flowing more easily, pace naturally quickens, the thrill increases.

I can’t say I felt more ‘thrill’ from my practice today because hot-water just makes you feel terrible. But I did feel my mind/body imprinting this 15 SPL pattern- each long 2-dolphin push-off bringing me to my 6.5m marker stone on the bottom, each stroke to the fullest, each breath but a low-quick inhale, each recovery wide and relaxed.

Then an interesting accident happened. On set #6, after the first 100 Fist, on the first length I accidentally narrowed my recovery which made my spearing entry tighter and my catch pulling me through a narrower hole- I instantly hit 13 SPL  with room to spare and even felt faster than at 15 SPL, and I carried it on through that 100m. But I also noticed that it took more effort, specifically strain in my back muscles, to move through that pattern- my HR was a bit higher. There’s no doubt that I was right in testing and developing this superior narrow profile crawel stroke for my sprint work- but I also see better now that it comes at a trade-off in tiring out that back and shoulders earlier on. I’ve chosen to make a new ‘hybrid stroke pattern for the purpose of taking my superior narrow skate position on sprints, and combining it with the far more relaxing (i.e. energy economy) wide swing recovery of my distance stroke. That wide swing seems to loose a little of the hip-thrust power I can get from a narrow recovery, but I will need to experiment to see if I can still get in position for that without having to use a narrow recovery.

All part of loving the process of practice! In any water condition…

However, this accident today still encourages me to believe that my 100m stroke will necessarily look different from my 1500m + stroke.

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