Saturday, May 17, 2014

The results are finally out - sorry for the wait!

WARNING: This is a long post - but as studies have now conclusively shown (see below), those who read these posts are the biggest improvers!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you’re all having a marvellous weekend - the weather today was sensational, wasn’t it?! Here’s a quick picture of my kids enjoying the autumnal leafs and some sensational sunlight at the end of an afternoon at the local park:

…if only we could all remember to have that much fun when we’re swimming, hey?! And that brings me onto the topic of this email newsletter - getting your “Swimming Mojo” back!

The Results:

We’ve had a tremendous start to the first 2 weeks of the 8 week program, starting with me needing to plot 2625 unique data points into the spreadsheet from the 400m & 200m Time Trial on the 2nd May…hence my delay getting this to you! As it is it’s nearly midnight on a Saturday evening and I’m still going strong…kind of! Here they are:

…you’ll be best off downloading the file and then zooming in a good bit to see what you need to with respect to moving forwards with your swimming this next 8 weeks (and beyond!). See the bottom of this email for links to our historical Time Trial records.

These results were essentially not just the start of a new program, but the culmination of the last phase of training which I spoke about in depth here namely about how we could all improve our swimming with better pace awareness:

Now I know sometimes some of you affectionately mock the length of some of my reports, but I am very pleased to announce the following “movers and shakers” with respect to those who most improved since last time from taking on board this message of better pacing, especially Adam Wheeler, Janine Kaye and Jens Bischoff with simply massive improvements - well done you! All have moved themselves well out of the bottom 25% of the squad with respect to poor pace awareness - in fact Jens was 3rd last back in November and this result sees him shooting to the very top of the 180+ squad list with respect to improvement since then! So make sure you read the descriptors in the link above…again, and again, and again - it’s all there, and non of it is rocket science ;-)

The Good…

Below is a list of all those swimmers who have improved their CSS pace by 4”/100m or more. The reason I use 4”/100m as a bit of a benchmark of stupendous improvement is because over a 1500m swim, this would equate to 60 seconds improvement, which since the end of November is not bad going at all! Jens and Janine for example have improved by a whopping 13.5”-14”/100m, or a simply staggering 3.5 minutes over 1500m! Incredible. 

Here’s the list:

Jens Bischoff 14”/100m
Janine Kaye 13.5”/100m
Sean Webb 11”/100m
Adam Wheeler 9”/100m
Megan Surette 8.5”/100m
Anka Franzmann 8”/100m
John Edwards 8”/100m
Andrew Graham 6.5”/100m
John Turner 7.5”/100m
Carrie Anderson 6”/100m
Ashan Weerakody 5.5”/100m (to give a CSS of 1:15/100m - the best ever recorded in the squad!)
Bronwyn Fricke 5.5”/100m
Liz Dundas 5.5”/100m
Robyn Ahern 4.5”/100m
Elvira Strombock 4”/100m
Mark Bosistos 4”/100m
Sue Oldham 4”/100m

Other notable improvements see a great return to form for squad-stalwart John Edwards (now back down to 1:24/100m) and Ashan Weerakody who has tested with the fastest ever 400m and 200m time in the squad to give a truly sensational CSS of 1:15/100m! Brilliant! That’s even faster than ├╝ber-fish Guy Crawford!

ASIDE: Going Against Convention...

Anka Franzmann (arguably one of the most consistent and determined swimmers in the squad) also knocked off a massive 8”/100m! When Anka joined the squad, she had been taught that the only supposed way to be “efficient” was by taking as few strokes as possible per length and achieving ‘scores’ of under 40 strokes per 50m. This was something that had been emphasised so much by her old coaches that she hadn’t improved in over 5 years of swimming despite the same determined effort that we see in her today. We threw that “rule book” straight out of the window upon her first 1-2-1 Video Analysis session and have worked diligently to remove the endless pause at the front of the stroke, thus improving the initiation of her catch and as a *direct consequence* taking her stroke rate (the number of strokes per minute, not per 50m) up from the low-40s to 62-66spm during the last 12 months. 

Do you think she’s happy and less frustrated now? You betcha! Do you think she ever obsesses anymore about how many strokes she’s taking per 50m? Absolutely not. At less than 5’4” tall (Anka will no doubt correct me here!) sub-40 strokes per 50m was never going to be efficient for her despite what the “rule book” might say. The irony here is that those who still believe the rule book publicly call me out on a regular basis online for talking “BS” - maybe we’ll let Anka be the judge of whether these changes that we’ve implemented are “BS”?! By working on her individual merits and determining how to swim for her own given attributes Anka even went on to average a brilliant 1:46/100m (33:47 compared with previous years all being +40 minutes) at the recent Busselton Half Ironman, clearly demonstrating that the CSS Time Trial results are indeed reflective of predicted performance - so it’s always worth knowing where you’re at, as bad as that might be. It is what it is and they are what they are. 

In fact on that note of current CSS ability being a sound indicator of performance for racing - Matt Illingworth, John Chipponeri and Nicole Anson all swim together in the Wednesday 5.30am “Red Mist” session, all have CSS paces of 1:34-1:35/100m and all swam within 6 seconds of each other (at just a smidge under 1:34/100m) down in Busselton at the 70.3 race despite all starting in different waves too! Freaky? Not really. Predictable? Definitely - with CSS work anyway! 

Might I also add that at 45 years of age, Matt Illingworth recorded the fastest overall 90km Cycle Time Trial result of the day as well (including the PROs) in 2h03m52s or a mouth-watering 43.7km/h!! Some of my critics say that Matt must have been “dangerously close” to his limit to swim at such a pace in the swim and that he’d be better spending his swim training time solely dedicated to refining his technique through endless “efficiency drills” and “never, never, never training hard”. However, this clearly shows no understanding of what this type of training involves and how it can benefit you when you see that he still produced an incredible bike split and finished 2nd overall in his Age Group. In fact, Matt’s ability to ride and run to his true potential relies upon him being fit enough to recover quickly and properly from the swim - drills and technique work alone will never give you this ability, irrespective of whatever level you’re racing at. It’s always about respecting the Three Keys of an holistic swim program: 1) Specific Technique work; 2) Specific Fitness work; 3) Specific Open Water Skills work - by attending one of each of these types of sessions per week, you can be assured that Matt’s ticking all the right boxes for his swimming.

And lest we not forget the wonderful performance of squad swimmer Kate Bevilaqua who won the overall female Professional event in Busselton - I don't really need to say any words other than "massive congratulations" and then show this graph which demonstrates undeniably how a little consistency and attention to defining the right stroke for you is what really counts! In 4 years Kate has improved her 3.8km swim time by 16 minutes and she's certainly not done that by ignoring the need to train hard, to train consistently and to ensure that she's swimming with a stroke that's right for her. Supposedly the swimming "wheat and chaff are separated at those who can swim less than 40 strokes per 50m and those who can't" - try telling that to Kate, she takes 56 to 58 strokes per 50m and has a stroke frequency of ~90spm - a pure "Swinger"! They also say that "you can't win a triathlon on the swim, but you can certainly lose it!" - the irony here being that Kate is winning these events now (3 Ironman titles and counting and multiple 70.3 events to her name!) because of the improvements in her swimming, as evidenced below - watch out Guy, she's coming for you!

Sorry, I digress - back to the squad!

And if all that wasn’t enough, in the last 20 months of swimming with the squad, “Mega” Megan Surette has dropped her CSS pace from 2:12/100m to a truly incredible 1:32/100m, or 40 seconds per 100m! This is the biggest percentage improvement I have EVER witnessed in a swimmer in such a small space of time. To put it another way, if Megan was to race herself from nearly 2 years ago over a mile swim, she’d beat herself now by over 12 minutes! Insane! Or for every 300m she swims now, she’d only have done 200m in the old days. Watch out for a very special report on exactly how Megan has done this on our main blog in a couple of weeks time! It’s going to be a very interesting case study!

Similarly Sean Webb who posted a 9+hr Rottnest Solo swim on his maiden attempt a couple of years ago is now the proud owner of a 5:38 400m P.B and a CSS of 1:25/100m - ranking him well within the Top-20 of the entire squad. This is not the result of any wizardry or magic spells, just consistent training of the right sort over a sustained period. Well done Sean - we’re very proud of you!

The Bad…

Now of course the whole stimulus behind running the last CSS Time Trial session was really to stimulate the Mojo of those of you who haven’t had a good run of consistency recently. I’m sure none of you will wish to be highlighted like I have done with those who have improved (above) so instead I will use myself as an example!

I did my CSS Test on Wednesday 30th April and it was the first time in my life that I have never broken 5 minutes for 400m! Still, I was realistic going into it following a good 5 months of rehab from my back surgery before Christmas and predicted 5:14. I swam 5:04 so was pleasantly surprised. With my 2:27 for the 200m, this gave me a 1:18.5/100m CSS pace which was about 2.5”/100m quicker than I was expecting. Still, when my usual “unfit” starting point is 1:15-1:16/100m normally and my Manhattan Island Marathon Swim winning form was ~1:08 to 1:10/100m, this is still a massive gulf to try and peg back. Why the need to peg it back? I’ve not got any major races planned, but like those of you who just want your swimming mojo back, so too do I, and what better way to do it than tracking my improvement through Twitter @SwimSmoothPaul if you’re interested!

The Ugly…

My goal is to simply get back to 1:15/100m as quickly as possible and remove this damn beard!

Once I’m at 1:15/100m, the beard goes - thank god!

On Friday I had a stock-take to see how I’m going and this is what it’s looking like…

I’m confident I’ll be able to get rid of the beard within the next 2-3 weeks, all being well as I had a pearler of a session on Wednesday with a 2.8km main set of 4 x (3 x 100m + 1 x 400m) all with 20 seconds recovery and done as Set 1) 1:22/100m; Set 2) 1:20/100m; Set 3) 1:18/100m; Set 4) 1:16/100m. This was a slightly longer version of the set you all did on Friday, where the aim was to start off about 4”/100m slower than CSS pace and finish 2”/100m faster - if you could!

Anyway, enough about me - I have included my CSS Time Trial Results as part of the main squad’s results so you can see that I’m far from perfect with respect to pacing as well! I’m working on it and if I had my time again as a young triathlete, this is undoubtedly the sole thing that I would work on.

And Lastly…

As you know I always love receiving your feedback on various aspects of the squad and its fair to say some of the most insightful comments come from Jeff Davis (lane 3 at 5.30am) and I’d like to simply finish off with his last email to me for your entertainment as one “unsung” hero from this report is that of Graham Crocker who’s been swimming with me now for 12 years and won his Age Group down at the Busselton Half Ironman by a phenomenal 17 minutes - he’s seemingly the only person in the squad who the CSS predictability doesn’t apply to - why? I’ll let Jeff expand on that - enjoy:

Hi Paul,

Didn’t get to chat this morning but a few observations from the weekend (Busselton 70.3):

1.     Broad Swimsmooth domination across the board: Kate, Kira, Emily, Nicole, Matt, Derek, etal all with podiums (I’m sure I have missed some). Jono first AGer out of the water (though I think shaded by Nedepelt for fastest split). Swims ok for a bloke who apparently lost his swim mojo in 2004… No doubt you get a buzz from helping these people achieve. It’s cool just seeing them on the race course and thinking “I swim with / in the lane beside that person!” It’s inspiring to see people achieve at that level.

2.     #CSSworks: I saw this on twitter and it was true for me. Although I didn’t do my time trial I know from the week in / week out of training that my CSS was sitting around 1:32. And that’s exactly what I swam on the day (29:16). Mind you it felt like nothing more than a warm-up before the bike so it’s nice being in that kind of condition.

3.     We could all learn a thing or two about race craft from Graham Crocker: Perhaps the only guy who CSS doesn’t apply to is Graham. Graham swam 28:08 and won his age group by 17 minutes. Although 30 years my senior he is my personal hero and someone we could all learn something from. Tough as a coffin nail and a true “racer”. I’d bet my house Graham couldn’t swim 1:29 in the pool but why should that matter? He doesn’t train to train he trains to race!

4.     You get what you train for: Further to the point about CSS – your numbers are what they are. I’d barely ridden my bike all year and was lucky to be running once a week. As such, I was realistic about what I could produce on race day. A 2:33 bike and 1:45 was solid if not spectacular and a good base to work off for the IM at the end of the year.

5.     “What is your why?”: I read a blog about the concept of exploring why you do something. Because if you know why you do something then you’re less likely to give up when training gets tough. I need to spend some time thinking about this. I am a natural sprinter trying to do long distance - Why? Do I honestly love it? I am not sure about the answers to those questions. But I think it’s time to get honest with myself and find some pure motivation.

See you on deck tomorrow!


Cheers, and as always, thanks for reading if you have!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please add your comments here: