Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tempo and Breastroke

I have been spending the weekend at the 2011 Santa Clara International.  The 200 Breaststroke was Friday evening, and I had the pleasure of watching the likes of Rebecca Soni, Amanda Beard, Brendan Hanson, and Eric Shanteau.  They are all American legends in the stroke and sport, and I wanted to pay particular attention and see if I could pick up some insight into what helps make them successful.

Rebecca and Amanda were first, and I decided to take stroke rates for Rebecca.  Her first 50 tempo was right around 115 strokes per minute.  She then took it up to 121, 225, and then 130 on each of the remaining 50's.   I was able to see and increase in Amanda's stroke rate as well, though I was not able to time it (only one watch).  Rebecca's splits were :33.51-:35.65-:37.10-:37.12.  Amanda's splits were :33.72-:37.05-:38.21-:38.55.

Eric and Brendan were next, and I decided to measure Eric's stroke rates.  He held is 1st 100m pretty steady at 110-115 strokes per minute, but he rapidly increased his tempo, up to around 125 strokes per minute, by the end of his 2nd 100m.  Brendan also increased his tempo dramatically.  During the last 50 he had a tempo that was clearly faster than Eric's.  Eric's splits were :30.59-:34.06-:34.31-:34.56, while Brendan's splits were :30.85-:34.57-:34.35-:34.79.

I have always coached my breaststrokers to work their distance per stroke at the beginning of their races and to work their tempo towards the ends.  My rationale is that they need to feel the water and gradually increase that tempo throughout the race.  In doing so, they will be able to hold their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th splits tighter together.

In our Santa Clara International sample batch, the ladies splits drop off a bit more that the guys, but they are swimming longer and, as a result, probably endure a bit more fatigue throughout the race.  The guys hold their splits pretty tight.  I really think that my recommendations hold true and are supported by these results.

Something to consider.

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