For any effort we exert, we should expect a result.
We’ll only know that result if we’re keeping track of it.
More efficient swimming, that is taking longer strokes, is ultimately building a platform for faster swimming.
However, taking longer strokes can sometimes come at a cost.
It CAN be more difficult, at least in the short term.
If a change requires more effort, it can potentially prevent you from pursuing it.
That is unless you KNOW it’s more efficient because you’re measuring it.
For any change, it’s going to require more or less effort, and result in more or less efficiency.
The relationship between what you put in, and what you get out, informs you about the quality of the change.
Here’s how to evaluate the results-
More strokes and less effort. This can go either way. It can be positive provided the increase in strokes is small, and the decrease in effort is large. Conversely, if you’re taking a lot more strokes and there is only a tiny reduction in effort, it’s probably not an effective choice.
Fewer strokes and more effort. This situation can also go either way. It can be a positive provided the decrease in strokes is large, and the increase in effort is small. Conversely, if you’re taking only taking one less stroke and there is a huge change in effort, it’s probably not an effective choice.
Fewer strokes and less effort. This is a great outcome. You’re taking fewer strokes, swimming more efficiently, AND it’s easier to do. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.
More strokes and more effort. This is a losing situation. You’re taking more strokes and working harder to do it. You’re either executing the wrong skill, or you’re executing the right skill incorrectly. A change is needed.
Typically, changes are subtle and you won’t notice dramatic and immediate progress or regression with a change.
As a result, you need to become attuned to the slight changes that dictate whether you’re moving in the right direction or not.
Here are some of the more likely outcomes.
Same strokes and less effort. This is a good place to be. You’ve found a way to make the same efficiency easier. It may be much easier, or it may be slightly easier. Regardless, this is a win.
Less strokes and same effort. This is also a good outcome. For the same effort, you’re able to take fewer strokes. Your efficiency has improved. This is progress.
Same strokes and more effort. You haven’t lost any efficiency in your swimming, but it’s now taking more work to do so. The more work that is now required, the more of a problem this is.
More strokes and same effort. You’ve lost efficiency in this situation, and just as much work is required to make it happen.
Some of these trade-offs are judgement calls.
Trust it your instincts and go with what feels right. You’re going to be on the right track most of the time, and your instincts will improve over time.
Further, my constantly measuring what you’re doing, you’ll catch yourself going down the wrong path very early in the process.
What gets measured gets managed.
Keeping track of your speed and your stroke count is the simplest way to measure and manage your progress in the pool.
If you’re swimming faster, you’re getting faster. If you’re swimming with fewer strokes, you’re setting yourself up for long-term improvement.
Measuring your performances almost ALWAYS improves them in the short term. Just knowing what you’ve been doing tends to improve subsequent efforts.
That alone is worth the effort to manage you performances.
Beyond the tangible improvements you’ll see, measuring also helps develop your feel for the water by calibrating your feelings.
When you pay attention, you’ll learn to associate what you’re feeling with how you’re performing.
Certain sensations are going to be consistently associated with faster swimming and more efficient swimming.
Over time, you figure out what to feel.
This is even more powerful when the training sets you’re performing are specifically designed to magnify what you’re feeling.
Faster. Easier. Better.