Swimmer Dashboard

Here is the basic TI Swimmer dashboard that I hold in my head. After sitting on my sketches for maybe a year I’ve finally built a diagram of it that I can share with you. I have some plans for using this in a workbook for swimmers eventually but I would like to share it with you and see if you can interpret it the way I have intended it to be understood.

TI Swimmer Dashboard

You may note that some objects on the dashboard are gauges that give information, and some are dials that you manipulate. The readings on the gauges are affected by how you set the dials and other internal things you, as the swimmer, control (or will learn to).

In my description of advanced training strategy I use the metaphor of a boat. Your body is the vessel and the propeller, your muscles and metabolic system are the engine and fuel system. You are the pilot. So this dashboard represents the things you learn to pay attention to and manipulate as an intelligent pilot.

I could add another series of more subtle or complicated dials and gauges but really most fundamental training concepts can be summarized with these. Just mastering these can take an entire swimming career so there is plenty to learn for anyone right here.  All this learning potential is what keeps us so jazzed about swimming with a continual improvement mindset.

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2 responses to “Swimmer Dashboard

  1. I LOVE algorithms, even though I occasionally just throw away my swim computer (Swimovate Pool-Mate Pro) and HR monitor (Polar) to just enjoy the feeling and sensations without focus on numerical performance. The closer I am to a competition, the more I stare at the numbers.

    I think the dashboard is pretty self explanatory. Tempo and stroke length affect the speed (or pace). Focus and fuel affect everything, especially the “warning lights”. And effort has an upside down U-form in swimming, ie. if you try too hard (yellow and red zones), your performance deteriorates rather than increases. BTW, the effort throttle doesn’t view properly on my web browser (Chrome) but does so in the e-mail I recieve when you publish posts.

    Have I understood it correctly?

    • Yes, you’ve made a nice summary of it.

      I would correct the comment on the Effort Throttle. All the levels of Effort have a place and time in training and may have a place in a long swim. But the idea is to understand the costs (effects on the whole swimmer and the objective) involved and choose the zone carefully at any given point in that swim.

      I think of the stories of extreme-channel swimmers who’ve got a ferocious cross current they must cut through or resist or they will be defeated. They may not be sprinting by short course pool standards, but after several hours in the water, and regarding their heart rate they are indeed sprinting in the Yellow or Red Zone, though as they break through they’ve also got to adjust the dials quickly to create some recovery so they can keep going.

      I too respond to what my head and heart need – I trained almost the entire summer without a Tempo Trainer. Intuitively, I knew it just wasn’t the right time to focus on the beep. But now, in the cool winter water it is my close companion. For weeks I had been using it only the second half of my swims until yesterday when I turned it on at the beginning. It really helps me stay focused when I feel the stress of chilling water distracting me. And I count strokes. Literally, all 3000+ of them! (in 120 stroke increments- which also helps me check tempo when not using the TT) It sounds maddening but really I’ve practiced counting (off/on) for so many years that I can turn it on/off as I please, yet I can do it with the left brain while the right brain focuses on more subjective things. If it is a distraction I don’t count, but often it is a great way to break up a long OW swim into small pieces and do cycle through various focus points, drills, or measurements.

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