In the early days when I started with Total Immersion and before metronomes, we used Swimming Golf. Swimming Golf was a means to experiment with stroke counts, speed, and efficiency. I still use it these days for some of the athletes I coach and for anyone who doesn’t have a metronome.
Practice #5 in Fresh Freestyle is an introduction to Swimming Golf. After a warm-up, start by establishing your baseline for both stroke count and time by swimming 4×25. Add your time and stroke count for each 25 to get a “score.” Also, note a particular focus. Once you have a baseline, you can practice keeping the same score to promote efficiency, or practice going faster by lowering your score. You can lower your score by taking less strokes, going faster, or a combination of the two. If you swam 25 yards in 30 seconds and took 20 strokes, your score would be 50. You can practice swimming 100 or 1,000 yards with the aim being to continue holding the same score. Or, see if you can take one less stroke, 19, yet still have a time of 30 seconds for a new low score of 49. That said, you will need to do something different in order to alter your stroke count, and/or time.
Get curious and put on your explorer (swim) cap. If you focus on the hips driving the hand forward, what happens to your time and spl and therefore your score? When you focus on feeling your legs acting like a pendulum to drive the hips, what happens to your score? What happens to your spl and time when you feel your head stay in line with the spine even when taking a breath? How does “x” focal point effect your spl and time and therefore your score?
Experimenting with swim golf along with varying the focal points can offer new information and be an eye opener. We can learn what can help us go faster, slow us down, where we need a little more work. It can also offer insight. For example if you tried to go faster by increasing your arm turnover, did you go faster? Did you feel you had a huge energy expenditure given the return, was worth it? Another way of putting it-did you take 4 more strokes but gain one second of speed? If so, was the energy spent on taking four more strokes to gain one second worth it to you? if you were to swim a 100, that would translate to 16 more strokes for 4 seconds? Those are some numbers to consider. Also, how did you physically feel as you swam?
To the swim!
This information can be empowering in that it can help you steer your own training by making informed decisions. And it is fun!