Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A note on numbers...

Dear Swimmers

Hope you all enjoyed this morning's swim session at Challenge Stadium. Given that it was quite busy today, I just thought it'd be useful to run through a few things as you all know I love my numbers!!

  1. DRAFTING. I decided to change the format of the main set so that everyone did a 1000m swim. We did this in "indian-line" drafting formation for the benefit of those who will be doing the open water race series this year and also for those who've not yet tried the Saturday afternoon 1pm session where we regularly practice this. You all found that you swam either a) a lot faster, or b) a lot easier for a given level of speed. This was typically as much as 60 to 90s difference compared to your time trial performances just 3 weeks ago - so quite considerable and well worth your attention. Far too often though I hear well meaning people saying "get off to a fast start and find some clear water for yourself!" whereas in reality "clear water" is the very last thing you want to find in an open water race as chance are everyone else is on your toes or you're massively off course and heading out to sea! Drafting well can save you up to 38% of the energy cost of swimming by yourself, so is always worthwhile practicing.
  2. ATTENDANCE. We try to limit these sessions to 24 people (i.e. 8 to a lane) but have a buffer of 3 to 6 people, i.e. there might be as many as 27 or 30 people in the session on occasion. Typically though the 5.30am session averages 21 and the 630am session averages 18 / 19 people. It is very important though (please) that if you ordinarily come along at 6.30am that you stick with this time slot, as it only takes 3 or 4 people to pop along to a different session and all of a sudden we seem quite busy. I think that this is what happened this morning. Your help with managing this (as always) is much appreciated. Maybe just drop me a quick SMS or email to let me know prior that this is your intention? I don't want to scare anyone off obviously, but equally I'm trying to manage the lane space availability as best as possible and always want you guys to all have the best session possible. For some reason the lack of a shallow end at Challenge Stadium seems to magnify this effect especially when I'm asking everyone to pop their fins on at the same time!! 
  3. TIME TABLE. As per last week's email notification which included our new time table for Monday 6th December onwards (see http://www.swimsmooth.com/pauls_images/Squad_Timetable.pdf ) you'll notice that we'll be bringing back the Tuesday 6.30pm and Wednesday 5.30am sessions. This increase in session availability will hopefully help distribute the attendance nicely throughout the week and offer greater variety and specificity for the type of sessions we can offer. In the next few weeks I'll be posting out a "register your interest" in these sessions to tentatively allocate you a space in a given session with priority being given to those who've swum through the winter. Watch out for that one!
  4. SETTING OFF. Here's another interesting one, especially those of you new to squad swimming - most swim squads will operate with a 5s or 10s interval between each swimmer in order to maximise on lane space availability. Typically we use 5s intervals unless I suggest otherwise, but all too often this tends to concertina-up (the "magneto effect" I like to call it!) and we end up using just 25 or 30m of the 100m available to us in a 50m pool. Comparatively, at 10s apart in a lane swimming at 1:30 per 100m this would allow 9 swimmers to swim in ample space. In a lane swimming at 1:45 per 100m this would be 10 or 11 swimmers, and in a lane swimming at 2:00 per 100m this would be a good 12 swimmers with enough space between each swimmer to feel unpressured by someone tickling their toes. Just like drafting practice is important, so too is having your own free space when you're doing drills or doing a solo time trial etc. This spacing is what keeps a lane manageable and it's incredibly easy to achieve once everyone knows where they're at with it. We'll do a little practice varying this up at bit over the next few weeks and see how we go. What you've really got to pity is those poor souls in the UK swimming in 20 or 25m pools with 10 people to a lane - now that's busy! The feeling of "I've got to keep up!" is what sends most of us off like the clappers to catch the person in front of us all the time, whereas in reality it'd often be better to just focus on maintaining that gap a little like driving on the freeway.
  5. PAYG CARDS. Finally, just a polite reminder here to ask you to always please remember to have your PAYG card with you at each session and treat this system as you would gaining pool entry to Challenge Stadium itself. Unfortunately the PAYG card system is not yet digital and whilst you're all pretty good at reminding me if you owe a tick here or there, it does start to get a little tricky to manage with the increasing numbers in the summer season etc. Thanks again for your support on this as I know it can be a pain to remember so many things at 5.30am!!

Cheers and have a great evening!


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