Total Immersion in marathon swimming

edited February 13 in General Discussion
This discussion was created from comments split from: Ingestible thermometer.

Comments

  • miklcctmiklcct Kowloon, Hong KongNew Member
    edited February 13

    @loneswimmer said:
    XXX has been a student of Terry Laughlin and the “Total Immersion Method”. This has reduced his stroke count down to about 55 s/min and improved his efficiency. Once in cold water, however, this stroke rate proved insufficient to maintain core temperature. See the attached graphs.

    By the 1:30 mark, XXX’s core temp had dropped below 95⁰F, and he had to return to his less-efficient higher stroke count to get his core temp back up (which he did successfully).

    It is interesting to note that XXX’s speed improved from 1:30 to 3:00 with the higher stroke count. By hour 3, however, XXX could not sustain the high stroke count, dropping to the low 60’s. This rate was sufficient to keep his core temp in the normal range (though slightly low), but his speed suffered substantially.
    My biggest question: as this was XXX’s first extended cold water swim, is it possible to assume that 4 weeks of cold water conditioning (now taking place) may allow him to maintain core temp in the Channel using his more efficient Total Immersion Method stroke? Note that the Channel temp is likely to average 3⁰F warmer. If this is not the case, XXX’s speed may not support completion within the two-tide-change time window.
    ....
    After this email I advised that I personally disliked T.I. for open water precisely for the lack of thermogenesis

    Your article telling the aspirant to dump T.I. is very uncomfortable to me, because I think that T.I. is good to turn a bad swimmer like me into a great one by maximising efficiency, especially in non-racing environment such as the channel.

    My swimming speed is very slow (about 2.6 km/h or 2:20 / 100 m for long distance open water) and definitely need technique improvement.

    I was researching various methods in the past years and it seems T.I. would be a great method. Because it promotes efficient swimming, and I am thinking of marathon swimming using the minimum amount of energy cost, especially swimming English Channel is not a race, where I can complete it in the most relaxed and comfortable manner.

    However, although I incorporated some drills and tried to worked on my stroke length, I didn't fully commit to it as I intend to eventually join a swim squad which is not using T.I. After I joined the squad, the coach tells me to stop working on my stroke length even I still need 28 strokes to cross a 25 m pool, and tells me I should stroke faster instead. My form is really better when I'm stroking faster (but I am seriously overheating in the warm training pool), but it is unsustainable even for 400 m, let alone marathon distance. It is definitely not effortless at all.

    The fact that marathon swimmers train in the squad is enough to convince me to trust my coach.

    However, what the coach telling me is basically to train on my FITNESS!!!!!!!! which I'm scared about it.

    Can you explain more about this? Is such higher stroke rate really essential in channel swimming, even it comes as an expense of efficiency and requiring a higher level of fitness?

    Also, do you know any successful EC swimmer who uses low stroke rate (preferably less than 55 / min) and also little bioprene?

  • abbygirlroseabbygirlrose Los Angeles, CAMember

    I am not familiar with the TI method, so cannot comment on it, but I successfully swam the Channel in 2017 with a consistent stroke rate of 60/min. For me, this stroke rate sets what I call my "forever pace" (as in the pace I could hold forever). If my stroke rate increases much above 62ish it is unsustainable for a marathon for me and if it dips much below 60 (in water of EC temp), I get cold.

    I think the key is trial and error to figure out what works for you individually.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    I've just got to throw my opinion in here. I learned about the TI method and got the book. I alway like to try out new swimming techniques and I liked a lot of the philosophy. It also fit one of my personal theories about swimming, which is that you get more out of efficiency than you do out of strength.

    I practiced a lot of the drills and worked on stroke count etc. After I got where I was doing a reasonable TI type swim stroke, I came to the realization that it was not for me. Yes, I could get where I was swimming about 12 strokes per 25 yards and I was gliding effortlessly down the pool. But it was at a massive cost of speed.

    My ending conclusion is that TI is a great recreational swim technique. But I think the cost in speed is too high for either competitive swimming or distance swimming. Additionally, as has been mentioned, I need a higher turnover to keep my skinny little body warm. So the longer time being totally immersed, plus the lack of internal heat generation, makes the TI method a poor technique for me.

    Maybe when I'm 95 and living in Miami, I will glide gracefully down the lane of the pool, efficiently using 12 elderly strokes per length. It will take me a minute to do 25 yards and everyone will admire the fact that this old skinny guy can swim so beautifully. Until then, it's the @curly method which is semi efficient and seems to work ok for me.

    MLambyDanSimonelliIronMike
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    Every so often a thread like this pops up and I’m always amazed how most people don’t make an effort to take TI to its logical conclusion.

    Distance Per Stroke is just one part of the stroke efficiency equation and is not an end itself, but understanding and practicing DPS is a means to an end.

    Yes stroke rate will/should vary and adjust for distance/fatigue/temperature.

    No, TI will not make you slower if you understand what you are doing but there is a strong likelihood that learning any new drills or skills will require a period of elevated focus that does indeed slow things down.

    Results may vary

    slknightStephenDanSimonellicurlyKarenTJSwimMaryStellaIronMikerosemarymint

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    @david_barra said:

    Distance Per Stroke is just one part of the stroke efficiency equation and is not an end itself, but understanding and practicing DPS is a means to an end.

    Yes stroke rate will/should vary and adjust for distance/fatigue/temperature.

    No, TI will not make you slower if you understand what you are doing but there is a strong likelihood that learning any new drills or skills will require a period of elevated focus that does indeed slow things down.

    Results may vary

    I agree with you regarding distance per stroke. As I said above, it fits my philosophy regarding efficiency. Yes, learning new things is a process and one can't expect to be expert right off the bat. My problem was that I embraced the technique and used it for about a year. My DPS got to be pretty reasonable in my opinion. I was regularly doing 12-13 strokes per 25 yards. If I got frisky, I'd do 10 strokes just for kicks. But as I said above, there was quite a cost in speed.

    I found some of the TI techniques to be quite valuable, such as the idea of "pressing the buoy" and "swimming downhill". The ideas of balance in the water are part of my foundation. I used to have a really high turnover when I was younger. It's sort of like race car engines. You can generate power with high rpm's and low torque or you can use high torque and low rpm's. Each has its place. Since I don't have a lot of torque, I tend to go with rpm's.

    The TI methods got me thinking about DPS and as a result I now use less strokes per length than I did when I was younger. I think that my stroke is the result of many different coaches, opinions, learnings and general experimentation. I'll probably keep messing with it until the day I can't swim. It's kind of fun.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    All I know is that many moons ago, I moved to a new town. Excited to try the new pool and masters team, I emailed the coach I was coming (per the website's instructions) and he suggested we talk before practice. I showed up early and he launched into a lecture about how he only teaches TI. They had started a few weeks ago with a new session and he told me, "Since this is a city program, I can't turn you away, but I highly doubt you'll be able to catch up to where we're at in our new session." He told me I'd have to totally re-learn how to swim and that he didn't want me swimming with any other group or team besides his team as I learned his drills and way of swimming. He insulted the masters program I'd come from and generally gave me a really bad first impression. He hadn't watched me swim and hadn't asked anything about my background. I'd never heard of TI at that time, but the coach's total unwillingness to work with me completely turned me off. I told him I'd think about it, and then jumped into one of the lap swim lanes to do my own workout. About 10 minutes in, he stopped me and was begging me to join his group. Hmm. I went home later, looked up TI and thought about whether I wanted to be part of a group that was so elitist (at least in my small neck of the woods). I decided against it, and started driving 45 minutes from my new home to the old master's team. Pretty glad I made that choice or else I doubt I'd have fallen into marathon swimming in the way I have. I'm sure TI can help some people learn to swim, but if what I experienced is the mind-set of their program/coaches, I'm not sure how that is helpful for more experienced swimmers who are interested in refining and improving their technique.

    SwimNCevmocurlymiklcctFlowSwimmersrlmflystormsrosemarymintSydneD
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    Man, that attitude is annoying. Although I think any coach, not just a TI coach can impart a lousy attitude and turn off a swimmer.

    In high school, I moved to a new team and was at some introductory get together. I was a new kid and went up and introduced myself to the coach who already knew about me from earlier race results. The coach and I were talking and he seemed sort of OK. Well then this other (younger than me) swimmer shows up and introduces himself. The coach said hi to the kid and then said, "hey, meet @curly , he can swim the 500 over a minute faster than you can." Well, I tried to down play that comment as much as I could, but I really soured on that coach after that. What a jerk, I thought to myself. As the season progressed, I found out I was correct in my assessment.

    I'm sure there are TI coaches who are really good and help any swimmer learn and improve. Let's hope it's not a typical attitude. If so it would be more like a cult.

    ssthomas
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    @ssthomas said:

    I'm sure TI can help some people learn to swim, but if what I experienced is the mind-set of their program/coaches, I'm not sure how that is helpful for more experienced swimmers who are interested in refining and improving their technique.

    Not sure what the future of TI will be, but I spent the better part of two decades swimming with Terry. Met some really great coaches through him and met some who really couldn’t offer me anything though I imagine they have flourishing tri-swim services.

    I will always stand behind the idea that anyone/everyone can benefit by applying fundamental TI principles to any workout from sprint sets to mind-numbing enduro-reps.

    ssthomasevmoIronMikerosemarymintKarenTswimfreeordieStephenJellyfishwhispererMaryStella

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • PasqualePasquale Antwerp (Belgium)Member

    I personally do not understand why is so important to to keep a high stroke rate (60spm).

    I will expose my case
    Lets say that I am a decent/average swimmer and my marathon pace is somewhere around 3.3-3.5Kph (for about 10K). From what I read here, I have apparently a very slow stroke rate at 42-47 strokes per minute at this speed..

    There are only two ways I can increase my stroke rate...

    1) Keep same stroke efficiency but work harder.. (when I sprint at 1'25"/100m I increase to 55-60spm)
    2) make my stroke less efficient

    Number 1 is what we do when we sprint., try to keep same stroke per length and increase stroke rate, but is obviously not possible to sustain for longer periods. Ideally this rate will get me swimming at 1'25"/100m o less something I cannot sustain for long... :)

    Number 2 is really against logic and will make me slower... Are you telling that to get warmer without getting exhausted too soon I need to spin my arm faster even if do not produce more propulsion, actually loosing it... ???

    Why not using your legs instead.. kicking faster will generate more heat give you a bit more speed but you try to save your upper body strength...

    In any case 60stroke per minute is for me very very high... Should I conclude I can never do marathon in colder waters...???

    miklcct
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    Going from 42 strokes per minute to 60 strokes per minute would be a major increase in stroke rate. Going from 58 strokes per minute to 60 strokes a minute isn't really a big deal. My point is that if your regular pace is 42, then upping your turnover to 47 will warm you up a bit, but you will still be swimming efficiently and not tire yourself. Someone who has a normal pace stroke rate of 58 strokes a minute would raise their stroke rate a bit to 60 strokes to keep themselves warm. So a little increase in effort and turnover is designed to provide a little heating for you.

    If you can keep warm at your slow turnover, then who cares about the person doing 60 strokes. You are using a trade off of spending energy on keeping heated versus spending energy on forward motion. It's a balance that only you can figure out. It also means you can vary your pace depending on your needs at the time. When I increase my turnover to warm myself up, I intentionally don't pull as hard. This way I don't tire myself even though I've increased rate. You can call it inefficient, but I'm merely using energy for different purposes.

    Regarding efficiency. If you swim 42 strokes and the other person swims 58 strokes and you swim at the same speed, I'd say that you are way more efficient than they are. Where things get interesting and swimmers will argue this one all day is when the person who swims 58 strokes is faster than the swimmer that swims 42 strokes. Now who is the more efficient swimmer? And that my friends is the whole fun of messing with your swim stroke.

    rlmPasquale
  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member
    edited February 21

    Just like @evmo left a link to the USMS forum on USRPT, there is an equally entertaining or not thread on Total Immersion. I particularly like the the second comment "Did you hear that? I think it was Pandora's box opening......." ;)
    http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?5699-What-do-you-think-of-total-immersion and this one http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?5181-Criticism-of-TI-Principles

  • PasqualePasquale Antwerp (Belgium)Member

    @curly Agree with you that a small increase in stroke rate is useful in certain situation like to get warmer. I have always been thought to work on stroke efficiency AKA distance per stroke and then try to increase stroke rate without dropping too much your DPS. I know that DPS and stroke rate are part of the same equation. I am totally sure there are many people much faster then me that swim 60 SPM or higher. No doubt about it.

    In my understanding, if two people have exactly same speed but swimmer1 has a lower stoke rate then the swimmer2, I would assume that swimmer2 is doing more cardio then swimmer1. while probably pulling less hard I think swimmer2 may get tired sooner. On the other hand swimmer1 can get sore sooner...

    In turns, I really think it depends on your attitude, of course fitness level can vary and no swimmer is the same so I do expect that some people feels better with a high stroke rate. For example triathletes have usually a very good fitness and probably can sustain a higher stroke rate.

    nevertheless I still think having a efficient stoke helps.. I still would like to increase my stroke rate but If I have to choose I will not do it at the expenses of my DPS ..

    In my post I was just worried that my low rate can be a disadvantage in cold waters... Only time will say... :)

    curly
  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNMember

    @lakespray said:
    Just like @evmo left a link to the USMS forum on USRPT, there is an equally entertaining or not thread on Total Immersion. I particularly like the the second comment "Did you hear that? I think it was Pandora's box opening......." ;)
    http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?5699-What-do-you-think-of-total-immersion and this one http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?5181-Criticism-of-TI-Principles

    Looking at the dates on those threads, they're 10+ years old and haven't been touched. LOL!

  • EllisEllis Baltimore, MarylandMember

    @Pasquale said:

    In my post I was just worried that my low rate can be a disadvantage in cold waters... Only time will say... :)

    I am in the same situation. My normal stroke rate is 42, swimming at a stroke rate of 60 is an all out sprint for me. I swam Boston Light last year (2018) with water temp about 58F at the start, warming to low 60s by the end. I found by upping my stroke rate to 45, I was able to stay warm for the entire 4 + hour swim. So, as Curly suggested, it's relative. Just increasing my stroke rate by about 10% kept me warm but allowed me to swim for a long time.

    Bottom line, I may be slow, but I'm old!

    IronMikePasquale
  • abeabe australiaMember

    Great reading and what it is telling me is everyone swims differently - the process for me when I swim long and that is 15km at this stage is to be as comfortable as possible, so limited concern for stroke count more about getting unscathed to the chosen distance.

    I find my technique changes with the conditions and when the wind and the swell is up technique becomes even more about being comfortable.

    Thanks for all the good info for relative newcomer to 10km plus swims

    Solo
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