Wednesday, February 13, 2013

75 Reasons Ian Thorpe Was A Great Swimmer

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Without cheating by reading ahead, listen to each of these beeps in turn and decide which is the stroke rate of Ian Thorpe winning one of his five Olympic golds:
A: B: C:
(Imagine the beeps corresponding to his hands entering into the water, so it's "beep" = left hand enters, "beep" = right hand enters etc.)

Which do you think? Ian Thorpe had a fantastically long smooth freestyle stroke and you might remember it being a long slow stroke. Was that actually the case?

The correct answer is the last one, the fastest of the three. This is 75 strokes per minute (SPM) and if you own a Tempo Trainer Pro and have tried to swim at this rhythm yourself then you'll know it's a very fast stroke rate, far too quick for there to be any pause-and-glide in the stroke.

Our memory of Ian is that he had a long slow stroke but this was an illusion brought about by the length of his stroke and silky smooth movements. In fact he had a long and fast stroke, which is why he was so devastatingly quick of course!

Keep Rhythm In Your Stroke

The Overglider is a swimmer who has set themselves the goal of swimming with a long stroke style but has added a distinct pause into their rhythm to try and artificially elongate their stroke. Unfortunately this pause has really killed their rhythm.

The classic Overglider strokes in the region of 45 SPM (listen to that here). If you visualise swimming at that stroke rate you can probably appreciate how they bog down low in the water and lack any sense of rhythm in their stroke.

Like all Smooths, Ian didn't create a long stroke by pausing-and-gliding, that would have killed his speed and efficiency. Be smooth in your own movements but keep your stroke continuous, either entering the water, extending forwards, catching the water or pressing backwards. Never pausing!

Swim Smooth!

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