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Swim Club Blog: It's all in the timing...

The Endurance Store Swim Club provides you with simple swim training plans throughout the winter months. The plan runs October to October and is completely free. We only ask that you pre-register so that your training plans can be emailed directly.

Registration is free and you may unsubscribe at any time from the Swim Club and stop receiving updates. Overview of the swim plan be seen below, but before you start you need to complete a test to set your swim paces, then register and download the sessions. GO HERE to register for swim club.

So we've talked in the last few weeks about rhythm / stroke rate and how it impacts upon open water swimming in particular. We also mentioned that using tools such as the 'tempo trainer' can help you to improve your stroke rate. Remember we said last week that most age group swimmers probably average 45 strokes per minute, they focus on long / gliding strokes but the speed of their arm cadence / turnover is quite slow. By contrast, elite swimmers will swim at 90-100 strokes per minute, moving their arms twice as quick.

So... you're all ready to roll, you've realised that your slow / gliding stroke is simply 'too slow' and you need to increase your rhythm / rate and get those arms flowing over a little bit quicker. You've got your tempo trainer and you set the metronome to 'bleep' at 60 strokes per minute, all you have to do is keep up with the timing.

Things to consider

Simply increasing your arm turnover isn't that straight forwards, the 'timing' of your stroke will have an impact upon your stroke rate. If you are a 'catch up' style swimmer, then increasing stroke rate is very difficult. 'Catch up' swimming refers to the timing of your arms. It's likely that you've done the 'catch up drill' at some point, as your hand enters the water and reaches out to full extension, you leave it there, don't start the pull until the other hand has done a full cycle and enters the water, so both hands touch at the front of the stroke.

Many people swim with a 'catch up style', it was made popular by 'total immersion'. The issue with catch up is that it relies upon the ability to 'glide' and as we mentioned last week, 'gliding' in open water is very limited. This results in a dead spot, where you simply stop in the water.

If you swim 'catch up' style, you'll find it far harder to increase your stroke rate. If you've bought a tempo trainer and you have a catch up stroke, then don't expect to jump up to 60-70 strokes per minute very easily as you're taking almost half the number of stroke per minute compared to people who swim with a more 'windmill stroke' (this refers to the hands being approximately opposite, so as one enters the water, the other is leaving, no glide, continuous flowing stroke). In simple terms, it is NOT POSSIBLE to swim catch up style and maintain a high stroke rate. If you want to increase your stroke rate and rhythm, you might have to change your 'timing' and move away from catch up, towards windmill. If in doubt, you need a coach to watch you and tell you whether you are catch up or windmill.

Anything else?

Funny you should ask... PADDLES! We encourage the use of paddles, but unfortunately, as they increase resistance, they also slow your stroke down. People who have a slow stroke rate will find that paddles almost bring your arms to a halt in the water. If you're trying to increase your rate / rhythm, then it might be best to avoid the paddles.

Alternatively, when you use the paddles, use them for shorter distances (50m maximum, or break 100m/200m reps into 50's). Focus on a faster arm turnover (you'll have to pull pretty hard) but don't allow the paddles to slow your arms even further.


Yeah... I think so. If you missed last week's blog, GO HERE and have a read. Onwards and upwards, increase your rate and rhythm and we start open water coaching in May, so hope to see you there!

The Endurance Store Swim Club

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