Tuesday, July 1, 2014

TriTalk Tuesday - Swim Tools and Gadgets

Holy macaroni it's Tuesday again, and time for my weekly link-up with Cynthia and Courtney for TriTalk Tuesday!  I was so focused on writing my race recap of Sunday's New England Trifest Olympic that I spaced on this until I was reminded late last night.  By that I mean that I was an exhausted mess and very fuzzy and vague all of yesterday, so I took my kids to the beach and not much else.  So everyone's going to have wait another day for my race recap (quick summary - it was awesome!!!!).  The girls and I decided to stay in the swimming "flow" and continue the discussion of all things water with Swim Tools and Gadgets.

The short answer for me is that I don't use many.  As a Total Immersion swimmer, the majority of focus in my training is maintaining proper balance and form in the water, thereby maximizing efficiency.  While I do drills, they are focused in perfecting this balance and form, and do not use fins, pull buoys, kickboards or other "gadgets" that are common to most other swimmers.  Putting a pull buoy between my knees destroys any balance I naturally have in the water - it just isn't helpful.  So when I practice drills to maintain form while rolling to breath, keeping loose, and making sure my arms and legs are in the correct positions to create the most "slippery" shape I can in the water, it's just me and my swimsuit and goggles. 

And if I'm in open water, my Safer Swimmer Bouy

That being said, there are a couple of training tools I use.  The first is my tempo trainer.  It is basically a metronome.  A little do-hickey that sits in my cap and beeps while I swim.  Total Immersion swimming is very mental (meaning mentally involved, not practiced only by crazy people).  It is imperative to be very focused and present for every stroke of your workouts.  A common goal in the pool is to count your Stroke Per Length (SPL).  When I started my TI class, my SPL for a 25 meter pool was 30 SPL.  Now my SPL is between 19 and 22, which is MUCH more efficient and consistent for a woman of my height.  I really encourage you to check out my before and after videos - the difference is something I'm quite proud of.

Anyway, the idea is that you should maintain your SPL, which is a measure of your efficiency, no matter how fast or slow you are swimming.  So a common drill I do is set my tempo trainer to beep slowly, swim, and slowly increase the speed up and then back down, making sure that my SPL stays more or less constant.   It requires a lot of focus and counting in the water, which is why I also use this:

SportCount Lap Counter & Timer shown on a finger! A finger lap counter and timer from SportCount.  It is a very simple tool that you wear on your finger and just press the button at the wall.  With all the counting of strokes per length, I sometimes lose track of what lap I'm on, and this helps.  It also records the time of each lap, so I can see my pace, etc.

I also use the tempo trainer during races, since I know what my "comfortable" race tempo should be and I find it very helpful and settling to have my metronome beeping away during the swim, just like it does in practice.  It keeps me from swimming too fast due to race nerves, or doing other things that are less than efficient in the water.

I also use my Garmin 310xt for swimming.  Confession - I got the watch in April, and since getting it have not logged many pool workouts.  When I have swam (which has been more or less once or twice a week), it has been in the open water.  I don't know if that makes me a good triathlete for getting so much OWS time in, or a bad one for not getting focused pool swims in, but either way... I prefer OWS so while it's warm you'll find me at the lake.  I don't wear it on my wrist during OWS because it tends to lose signal underwater, so I throw it in my swim buoy and tow it along behind me to get distances.  Once uploaded into Garmin Connect and Training Peaks (love that they automatically sync now!) I get data like this:

Thus concludes that gadgetry that comes in the water with me!  Just goggles, tempo trainer, lap counter, and if I'm outside my wetsuit and swim buoy.  My Garmin is essentially an appendage at this point.

Race recap teaser - swim out Jazz Hands!!!!

What is your favorite swimming toy?  Do you have a closet full or are you a minimalist like me?  Tell us below and link up your blog!


Courtney @The TriGirl Chronicles said...

I should probably know my stroke count. Add that to my to-do list for tomorrow's pool swim. And what, you don't like the crazy drunk line that Garmin gives if you swim with it on your wrist =P

Jan said...

I haven't heard of counting strokes but that would be cool to do. Learning to swim well is on my bucket list! I am just a survival swimmer @ this point.

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