The French have a word for this - Souplesse - which is hard to translate perfectly into English but speaks of a rider's pedalling suppleness: a fluidity of movement, the smoothness of transition from one pedal stroke to the next and a sense of seamless rhythm. All time cycling greats such as Coppi and Anquetil were famous for their souplesse and the sense of artistry it brought to their riding.
Co-incidentally, in Perth Paul Newsome has been working with cycling World Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist Emma Pooley on her swimming. Emma's got a background in triathlon before cycling and is getting back into the sport, winning the Swissman Extreme Triathlon last year. Whilst working on developing her freestyle stroke, Paul asked her about Souplesse in cycling. Here's a brief extract:
|[R-L] Emma, Paul and Richard Stannard in Perth yesterday|
Of course it's not just cyclists who have souplesse, great swimmers also use a finely coordinated sequence of fluid movements. And just like with cycling all that hard training has - ironically - brought their stroke to a point where it can look deceptively effortless too.
If you've been focused on trying to take as few strokes as possible per length then it's quite likely you've started to lose touch with the smoothness and continuity of your stroke. Perhaps you need to work a little more on your swimming souplesse, making your movements relaxed but continuous, smoothly transitioning from one stroke to the next.
As you do this, still use the full range of your stroke but keep things smooth and rhythmical - without any hitches or pauses - and you'll soon be on the way to becoming a faster and more efficient swimmer.