The Amazing Katie Ledecky, See Us At London Tri & Our Cilla Black Tribute

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Three items for you this week:

Katie Ledecky 1500m World Record

First up, we hope you were lucky enough to see Katie Ledecky's performances at the World Championships in Kazan this week. She's already won the 200m, 400 and 1500m freestyle (and a relay gold!) - who can stop her winning the 800m tomorrow night too?

Let's pick out our favourite pool event - the 1500m freestyle. Katie broke the world record twice during this meet, once in the heats and then again in the final (before qualifying for the 200m freestyle final just 20 minutes later!).

Her performance (15:27.71) in the heats was remarkable because she said she wasn't trying very hard. In her own words: “It did feel pretty easy, I wasn’t kicking much”. Her coach Coach Bruce Gemmell told her to swim 900 meters easy, build for 300 meters then choose the pace for the final 300 meters.

Let's look at how she actually paced it with the splits for every 100m:

100m 0:59.1 900m 1:02.5
200m 1:02.7 1000m 1:01.8
300m 1:02.2 1100m 1:02.3
400m 1:02.4 1200m 1:01.7
500m 1:02.5 1300m 1:01.9
600m 1:02.2 1400m 1:02.0
700m 1:02.2 1500m 1:00.2
800m 1:01.9

If we ignore the first 100m (dive start) and last 100m (sprint finish) then every 100m was within plus or minus half a second. Amazing pacing skills!

Our take-home point for you is that when we pace out a swim as perfectly as that, it can feel very 'do-able', or even 'easy'. Things only really hurt when we start too fast and then are forced to slow down - either in a race or though a training set.

The sharp eyed amongst you might also have noticed Katie's ability to switch between a two beat and six beat kick, as we discussed last week on the blog. Another phenomenal skill.

We'll Be At The London Triathlon

Swim Smooth's Adam Young and the UK coaching team will be at the London Triathlon this weekend at the ExCel in docklands. This is the largest triathlon in the world with over 13,000 taking part!

Come and say hi on the Swim Smooth Stand, and check out the new Swim Smooth Coaching System. If you have any footage of yourself swimming then bring it along on a memory stick - Adam and the team will take a look at your stroke and give you some feedback on how to improve.

Cilla Black - A Life Well Lived

Finally, we were very sad to hear of the passing of UK entertainer Cilla Black this week. It's a little known fact that our head Coach Paul Newsome appeared on the Christmas Edition of Blind Date in 2001 - check out his truly shocking skinsuit and bleached hair in the video clip here:

We had a lorra lorra laughs Cilla.

Swim Smooth


Jonas said...

Yes, amazing Katie Ledecky. Very good body position. The only thing I don't like is the unilateral breathing, this causes (I think) that her recovery arm movement is faster on her left arm than on her right arm.

That's Paul Newsome? My gosh, that's amazing too :-)

Jim said...

Congratz to Katie....well done!

& yeah, RIP & Thanks for the music Cilla.
(I think many folks here are too young to remember
'Alfie' & 'Anyone who had a heart'....great stuff!)

Unknown said...

Truly amazing pacing skills!

It seems she didn't quite follow her coach's advice but it turned out OK. I'm sure she listens to her coach at all other times during training though.

Anonymous said...

Coach specified effort not lap times, appears his advice was taken on board and worked perfectly.

Rudolf said...

Sure i saw the 1500 and the others of K.L. on SporTV here in Rio, but what's the notion alone worth if you don't point out WHAT you witnessed??

See, Kathie swims like Michael now, it looks like she lifts one side of her body a bit out of the water when she pulls with her (presumably) strong arm - that was always Michael Phelps trade mark, and you see what wonders this does for K.L.!!

Why don't you "experts" see this, why don't you analyze THIS, there is obviously something about this "up and down" pull style of these 2 ultra fast swimmers - so, get to it and let us all know what exactly it is they are doing (different than the slower others), that would be interesting to read, not just "hey guys we saw that" ...

zackme said...

- Although Rudolf's ton seemed pretty rough to me, I find his remark of interest, so if you have a comment on it for the rest of us, thank you.
- I was used to read about bilateral breathing on SS but noticed many distance swimmers used unilateral? Why, is it better under certain conditions?

Adam Young said...

Hi Zackme - Yes Rudolf has a history of aggressive and negative commenting on the blog. We normally try to reply to everyone but when I read his comments I often feel he's trying to provoke a response by being deliberating antagonistic - not very pleasant and certainly not something we want to encourage.

To your question, some distance swimmers may breathe unilaterally but they can nearly all swap sides and happily breathe to the other too. They do this for tactical reasons of course to watch a competitor or breathe away from the swell or sun in open water. Swapping regularly also helps maintain their stroke technique, particularly the catch on a breathing stroke.

Why do some breathe every 2? It would be easy to say because they need the oxygen but this clearly isn't the case as plenty of elite distance swimmers of the same speed breathe bilaterally (every 3). I think the real truth is that they've always done it from a young age and it's become a habit, or have been coaching by a coach who believes it is advantageous.

Of course the temptation if you are struggling to breathe bilaterally is to look at these guys and say 'oh I don't need to then if they don't' but the truth is that they are 'getting away with it' in terms of their stroke technique rather than benefitting from it. Swimmers like Ledecky and Phelps have amazing proprioception and skill which is keeping their stroke in check. For the majority of swimmers, only ever breathing to one side leads to stroke flaws such as crossovers, scissor kicks and pressing down on the catch whilst breathing. All of which can fundamentally hold them back.


We were commenting on her amazing pacing... which is extremely important but easily missed and all too easily disregarded.

Yes Katie rotates slightly more to her breathing side than the other - although nowhere near as much as Michael Phelps who has a very lopsided stroke driven by a massively powerful kick pushing him through the delay in arm propulsion on that side.

We don't believe there's a secret to unlock here in Katie's stroke with the rotation, it's simply a characteristic of breathing to one side only that rotation becomes lopsided.


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