Reply To: Stroke count as failure criteria?
I’ve never done what you’re suggesting, but I’ve definitely heard of it. In particular Bud Termin (who’s own flavor of race pace training has been around for 20+ years) ran race pace sets based on speed and stroke count. He was hyper analytical with it. Lots of math and DPS calculations to come up with an optimal stroke count. I’m not against that at all, but it seems like overkill for most swimmers. There are practical ways to leverage stroke count without getting crazy.
I’ve approached stroke count like this: swim a handful of 100s or 200s at a relatively high effort and note your stroke count for each lap for each rep. Typically the first lap will be low, then you’ll add 1-2 for the next lap or two (this is typically your current “best” stroke count), then you’ll add 1-2 more for the remainder of the swim. If I start out with 10 strokes per 25 yards I will end up with 12-13 by the end of a 200. If 12-13 mucks up my approach to a wall for a turn then I ought to train to keep that count at 11 or otherwise adjust my kick out/breakout so 12-13 strokes works with the wall on the other end. Whatever pattern your stroke count degrades in and whatever the undesirable effect is (bad wall timing, slow speed) it’s important to have a handle on it so you can plan how to improve it.
If my count becomes bonkers high in a longer swim, say, +5 or more stroke per 25, then I’d start training as you suggested…use stroke count as a failure condition. In this case I can recommend the Finis tempo trainer pro. Learn to let it drive when you take a stroke. As you reach the point where you’d add strokes you’ll start to get a feel for what mechanical defects are creeping in that force the extra strokes to be necessary. It’s always some mechanical defect…head/body position, poor catch, not finishing the pull, lack of body rotation, kick goes away, etc. Then it’s a matter of recognizing the defect has crept in and building the skill to prevent it from happening.
Hope that helps!