Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sweet Spots

Today I did the Swim Smooth ramp test to discover my optimal stroke rates. It turned out that I have two sweet spots, i.e. two stroke rates at which I have the highest efficiency given pace and perceived effort. The first one lies at 61 strokes per minute and second one at 76 strokes per minute. What does that mean? At 61 strokes per minutes my pace clearly dropped by 3 seconds per 50 metres, compared to 58 strokes per minute, while maintaining approximately the same rate of perceived effort. This can be considered my long and steady pace stroke rate, which clearly supports what I have been doing during training. At a stroke rate of 76, I dropped 2 seconds per 50 metres compared to the preceding stroke rate of 73, an outcome which was absolutely new to me! However, swimming at this stroke rate is hard work. This stroke rate can be considered my CSS stroke rate. CSS stands for Critical Swim Speed and is an approximation of the lactate threshold speed. CSS can be calculated by doing a 400 and 200 metres time trail (see CSS link above). Over the last 6 months my CSS decreased from 1:32 to 1:28 and now to 1:25 minutes per 100 metres (as of last week). Looks like I am on the right track!


Stroke rate     Strokes/50m     Time/50m     RPE     Comments
46 34 49.3 1 very slow
49 37 46.8 2 feels smoother but still slow
52 36 44.2 2.5 feels nice and easy
55 39 44.1 3 feels good
58 39 43.6 3.5 feels good
61 40 40.5 4 feels fast and easy to breath bilaterally
64 42 40.7 5 starting to work
67 42 39.7 6 working now
70 43 38.6 7 working but stroke feels good
73 45 38.5 8 stroke degrading; fighting the water
76 45 36.7 8 feels smoother again for some reason
79 45 35.5 9 sprint
82 46 35.1 10 sprint plus fighting the water

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