Phelps On Fire
At Swim Smooth we focus mainly on freestyle distance, open water and triathlon swimming but it would be rude not to mention Michael Phelps who has incredibly won two more gold medals taking his overall Olympic Gold tally up to an insane 20! Beyond any shadow of a doubt the greatest swimmer of all time, who's to say he won't add to this tally over the next few days? Here at Swim Smooth we certainly hope he can.
What can we learn from Michael's swimming to improve our own? If you missed it first time around, take a watch of this Phelps inspired swimmer analysis by Paul Newsome from a few months back:
Horton vs. Yang in the 400m Free
In perhaps the race of the meet so far, Australian Mack Horton touched out controversial Chinese swimming star Sun Yang by just 0.16 seconds to take the Gold. Claiming the win as one "for the good guys" Horton sparked outrage in China by saying Sun, who served a three-month ban for testing positive for a banned substance in 2014, was a "drug cheat". This will only add spice to the 1500m freestyle, where they should clash again on Sunday night in the final (more on this below).
1. Amazing Pace Awareness. At the start of the race, British swimmer James Guy (GB) flew out well under world record pace, only to die in the last 100m and finish 7th. Horton conversely appears to accelerate as the race goes on, when in fact his 50 splits are very even until the final sprint:
|Horton 50m splits:||Guy 50m splits:|
|26.05 (from dive)||25.87 (from dive)|
What we're really seeing is Guy slowing down in the second half of the race (he is still leading until 300m). Guy is the current world champion over 200m freestyle and whilst the commentators claimed he needs to go out fast and try to hold on, even as world champion, if you cook yourself, the result is going to be the same as you cooking yourself at the start of a CSS set - disaster!
2. Breathing Sides. Horton is at a distinct advantage over Yang in the final 50m as they are both breathing to their right but Yang is on Horton's right. Horton can see Yang, Yang can't see Horton. How important is this? See for yourself next time you're trying to race someone in the next lane!
This reminded us of Ian Thorpe's amazing 200m Olympic Gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics against Pieter van den Hoogenband (www.youtube.com/watch?v=WASQ36nkz6E) - Thorpe breathes to his right up the pool and left coming back - always keeping an eye on Hoogie - one reason why we're so pedantic about mixing up your breathing sides when training!
Rapidly building a case as the greatest female swimmer of all time, America's Katie Ledecky was unstoppable in the 400m freestyle, winning by 5 seconds and setting a new world record of 3:56:46 (try putting 14.78 into your Tempo Trainer Pro in a 25m or 50m pool and see how that feels!).
Much has been written about this driven 19 year old from Washington DC and why she's so fast but let's dispel one myth right now - she's not fast because she's got a super-long stroke, or because she's trying to take as few strokes as possible.
In fact when you study her swimming, you can see that as one stroke finishes at the rear the next immediately starts at the front, which you can clearly see in this shot with the right arm finishing at the rear and the left hand tipping down to commence the stroke at the front:
Katie continuously and seamlessly transitions from one stroke to the next without any pause or glide in her stroke. She takes around 41-42 strokes per length, which is not an especially long or short stroke but backs this up with a very high stroke rate of 90 strokes per minute - and the combination is deadly. She's found the perfect trade-off between stroke length and stroke rate for her and it's paying her huge dividends, even if it goes against conventional wisdom that she should maximise her stroke length at all costs.
Katie is an absolute pleasure to watch swim and tends to be even stronger in the longer events, so expect more domination - and perhaps a lowering of her own world record - in the 800m freestyle final on Saturday night!
Rio Inspired Guru Virtual Squad Session
If all this Olympic swimming has fired you up then checkout Paul's Rio inspired training session in the Guru Virtual Squad:
You need a PRO license to swim the set!
Looking Forwards To The Ultimate Swinger Vs Smooth Showdown In The 1500m Freestyle
Earlier we looked at Sun Yang versus Mack Horton in the 400m freestyle. Well, they're both back in the action in the 1500m on Sunday night, and Sun gets a chance to extract revenge in his favourite event, where he set an incredible world record of 14:31.02 at London 2012.
But, and it's a big but, there's going to be another factor in this race and that's the Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri - the European Champion and short course record holder. Whilst Horton and Yang favour the longer smoother style of the "Smooth" Swim Type, Paltrinieri is a full on Swinger with a shorter stroke and faster turnover. Seeing Yang and Paltrinieri swim side by side with their very contrasting strokes will be fascinating:
|Strokes per length:||28||40|
|Strokes per minute:||65||90|
It could be the ultimate Swinger vs. Smooth smackdown - we have our fingers crossed for an epic race:
Looking Forwards To The Triathlon And 10K Marathon Swims
The weather has certainly played a part in many events in Rio so far and could well continue to do so. Both the 10K open water and triathlon swims take place in the open Atlantic Ocean off Copacabana beach, potentially offering much lumpier conditions than the pancake flat Serpentine at London 2012. In fact if you watched yesterday's cycling timetrials and noticed the rough ocean conditions in the background, that's just along from Cocacabana on the same stretch of coast! :
What will this mean for both events? If you've been following Swim Smooth for a while you'll know that waves and chop favour swimmers with shorter strokes and a faster stroke rates. Expect these swimmers to come to the fore, and those with longer smoother strokes to relatively struggle. In the men's triathlon watch out for Alistair and Johnny Brownlee, and Henri Schoeman, all of whom race at 90 to 100 strokes per minute - super fast stroke rates!
Watch our unique study of Henri's swimming in the Guru here: www.swimsmooth.guru/video/k1/henri-schoeman/