I was thinking of a set of drills and focal points that I could use in the first month after my MAF test. Total Immersion has embraced the 2-beat kick and integrating the kick with the body rotation. Kick cadences is something that I have never done. Since I come from a competitive background, a 6-beat kick seems more similar to what I do. To provide some drills, I used the kick integration drills from former TI Coach Emmett Hines’ Fitness Swimming book — Long Axis Rotation (LAR), Many Rotations, 1 Stroke (MR1S), and Many Rotations, 3 Strokes (MR3S). The book is quite good but doesn’t have video clips for these drills. I’ll see if I can get something up on YouTube over the next month to demonstrate what I’m doing.
- I set my Tempo Trainer to .44 seconds to make me very aware of the precise kick cadence. If the math doesn’t immediately make sense, I took the stroke rate that fell out of the MAF Test, 1.31, and divided it by 3 to get the cadence. Since there are 6 kicks per cycle (2 strokes) or 3 kicks per stroke, each kick gets 1/3 of the 1.31 seconds or .44 seconds per kick (rounded).
- The Long-Axis Rotation drill has me rolling from side to side in a Superman position. To keep myself on beat with the 6 kicks, I can’t roll too far or I won’t be able to get to the other side in 1 kick. This fact reinforces the “just enough rotation” focal point that TI Coaches are teaching rather than balancing perfectly on the side.
- My right leg has more difficulty initiating the roll. I think I traditionally have eliminated this kick. I think I also tend to roll more to this side to make it more difficult to come back.
- It took some time to figure out how to start each length and get on beat right away. I had to think of starting with the lower arm on the streamline and therefore the lower leg to initiate the roll. After doing that, I had to immediately get on beat. This feat was made more fun by the fact that I start my swims left arm down, and flip my turns right arm down. Needless to say, smoke was coming out of my ears.
- I used some simple ladders with a standard rest interval to help me focus on what I was doing. This set took a lot of concentration to do, so it was important to me to slow down and ease up the intensity.
The practice finished with 6 x 50 freestyle on 20 seconds rest. I took off about .15 seconds from my stroke cadence to get me practicing swimming at a more race-pace tempo (actually it needs to be around 1.10 or better). I used my Aquapulse heart rate monitor to call out my heart rate every 10 seconds to make sure that I was keeping myself aerobic while working at this faster tempo. If I was starting to go anaerobic, I would have had to slow the tempo down. It took me about two 50s to get up within 10 beats of my Max Aerobic Heart Rate (MAHR). By the end, I was swimming the 50s in 44 seconds and 30 strokes — a 74 golf score. My score on my MAF test was 76 (48 seconds and 28 strokes), so the efficiency trade-off was good. I will be integrating sets where I get used to pushing the tempo while maintaining efficiency. Ultimately, I would like to be able to swim at this tempo in 14 strokes per length in my aerobic zone. I’m not fit enough right now to do that, but I am aiming to get there by the end of the summer.