Like A BMI Chart But For Your Swimming

At some point in your life you will have looked up where you are on a Body Mass Index chart:

A BMI chart takes your height and weight, and shows you whether you are overweight, underweight or about right. It's not completely perfect (for instance if you've been spending a lot of time pumping iron in the gym then you might be heavy but not actually overweight) but it's a pretty good guide.

At Swim Smooth we have a similar chart that gives you insight into your swimming. We call it the Stroke Rate Chart and it looks like this:

This has two axes, your swimming speed (time per 100m) and your stroke rate (the number of strokes per minute you take counting both arms).

The chart has three zones:

The Red Zone indicates your stroke rate is too high for your swimming speed. If you are in this zone, there's a strong likelihood you are fighting the water - a low body position, crossovers and scissor kicks are common.

With a Pro subscription, use the Swim Smooth Guru to follow either the Arnie or Swinger processes and tune up these elements of your stroke. You'll move into the white zone and immediately notice the difference in your swimming:

The Blue Zone indicates your stroke rate is too low for your swimming speed. If you are in this zone it's likely you have a pause and glide in your stroke timing which is holding you back. You are also likely to be dropping the wrist and pushing forwards on the water - we call this "putting on the brakes" and it's fundamentally connected to over-gliding.

With a Pro subscription, use the Swim Smooth Guru to follow the Bambino or Overglider processes and you'll soon be swimming much more effectively:

The White Zone is where you should be. That's not to say that your stroke is perfect but it says that your stroke rate is about where it should be and changing it is not something to be focused on.

The width of the white zone takes account of two things:

1) Your individual height and build. Taller swimmers with long arms naturally have a longer stroke with a slightly slower turn-over.

2) Your individual stroke style. For instance if you have an effective 6 beat kick and like to use it then your stroke will be longer with a slightly slower turn-over for a given speed.

You can find out more about the Stroke Rate Chart here together with non-elite and elite swimmer examples:

Swim Smooth!


Unknown said...

You used to be able to input your own personal stroke rate and pace to see it on your stroke rate chart. have you taken that functionality down as I found it very useful!

Adam Young said...

Greg - yes that's correct! We're working on bringing it back for the new site design...

Adam Young said...

And you can still use that old one here:

Mark said...

I'm a 55 year old fitness swimmer training 2x/week 30mins; for 25+years. What would be a good 100m split for someone like me?

Unknown said...

thanks Adam, I spent ages trying to find it!

Adam Young said...

Hi Mark - I wouldn't like to say to be honest - one's person's "good" is another person's "average"!

What times are you swimming at the moment?



James said...

I'm in the white zone and swimming 1:25 at about 65 spm. So it says not to focus but if I feel that my technique is pretty decent (A smooth) would I focus on bringing stroke rate up or working on bringing my CSS down and the stroke will follow? Is this a chicken or the egg scenario?


Adam Young said...

Hi James,

OK you're firmly in the middle of the white zone there which is great. What this is saying is that you are on track with your current stroke - keep nurturing it with an all round set of drills and of course working on your swim fitness with key sets.

As you gain fitness you will probably find that your stroke rate comes up a touch as you move more quickly through the water - this will happen naturally and I wouldn't deliberately go chasing it. Let it happen with the fitness gains.

I hope that helps!


Anonymous said...

Really does. Thanks very much for the reply!


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