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2013-10-17 1:03 PM
in reply to: mstimpson

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim
I think that it has value with a large enough sample size and if you look at multiple metrics. With most Ironman branded events, the particpant size is about 2000 athletes at the start. I have found through experience that this is a big enough field to make it valuable to compare from one race to the next and when you add in the finish time of the first place finisher it adds more insight.

Again, I train people exclusively in the pool and I know what their paces are to the second in the pool. That's how I coach and it is the basis for how I coach. But what I have found is that improvement in the pool does not always translate to a straight line improvement in the open water. Adding these additional metrics can help divine out the level of improvement more accurately and with better insight.

Here is where your statement of open water swim times are fantastic as metric breaks down: what are you comparing it too? Your assumption is that the distance of the course is exact. I help set up open water swim courses and they are never exact. They are close but can be off by 100s of yards, which can be a significant amount of time. The other assumption is the conditions from one 1.2mile to swim to another are the same. Did you swim with a current or against a current? Was there no current? if you can swim a 1:00/100 yards in the pool that same swim in open water water with a 1 knot current translates into 133 yards for a minute of swimming. Slower swimmers get a bigger bump from a current than faster swimmers. Was there wind? Did you swim with the wind or against? Was it a wetsuit legal event? Slower swimmers get more help from a wetsuit than faster swimmers. These are a few of the things that come into play when you are looking to judge performance in an open water swim and as a coach the information you need to make an athlete faster.





2013-10-17 1:13 PM
in reply to: snappingt

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim

Originally posted by snappingt I don't disagree that pool times give you a lot more valuable information than open water swim times. And there are no doubts that this methodology has its limitations. The sample size has to be large enough. I typically use it for Half and Full Ironman races. There is usually about 2000 participants or I'll use it for local races with more than 1000 participants. I'm not suggesting it's perfect just better than comparing a 1.2 mile open water to another 1.2 mile open water swim based on time. Here is where your argument for pool times as the only metric breaks down. I have seen people that have dropped 10-15 seconds a 100 in the pool not improve their open water swim like what would be expected from their pool time improvement. And since open water swim times aren't reliable, you have to start to look to other metrics to judge performance. I started to look at these differing metrics in combination with time to see what was actually happening. Any way you look at open water swim times as a metric, they are not very accurate as a stand alone performance indicator.

I fully understand your point with the placement metric but I think you need to quantify any gains in OWS to go along with that, i.e. sighting, breathing, comfort level in OW.   That is where I can see a disconect between pool times and OWS times as well as the variables with the OW course.  You get an average AG athelete making strong gains in  the pool and they still may be unaccustomed to swimming in OW.

2013-10-17 1:16 PM
in reply to: snappingt


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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim
Originally posted by snappingt
Here is where your statement of open water swim times are fantastic as metric breaks down: what are you comparing it too? Your assumption is that the distance of the course is exact. I help set up open water swim courses and they are never exact. They are close but can be off by 100s of yards, which can be a significant amount of time. The other assumption is the conditions from one 1.2mile to swim to another are the same. Did you swim with a current or against a current? Was there no current? if you can swim a 1:00/100 yards in the pool that same swim in open water water with a 1 knot current translates into 133 yards for a minute of swimming. Slower swimmers get a bigger bump from a current than faster swimmers. Was there wind? Did you swim with the wind or against? Was it a wetsuit legal event? Slower swimmers get more help from a wetsuit than faster swimmers. These are a few of the things that come into play when you are looking to judge performance in an open water swim and as a coach the information you need to make an athlete faster.


I am not arguing that open water swim times are invariable across swims. I am arguing two things: one, using placement in field is no less variable and I would argue more variable then using open water swim times; additionally I think it is easier to contextualize performance based on those items that may vary in an open water swim based on time then contextualize performance in an open water swim based on placement. I can quantify many of the things you listed above. I can quantify length of swim, I can quantify current, I can quantify wearing a wetsuit (or at least control for it in an analysis). Granted some of those measure might be difficult to obtain, but I can still obtain most if not all of them. However, obtaining the relevant information for 2000 participants (or even 50) becomes much more burdensome.

Second, I am saying, with no hesitation, that if one is attempting to measure performance and improvement in open water swims, time is the best metric to use.

I will also say again that size of field has nothing to do with this. It does not matter if 2000 athletes participate or 4. If you are going to use placement to gauge improvement/performance, what matters is if swim abilities are equally distributed across the fields.

Matt
2013-10-17 2:11 PM
in reply to: mstimpson

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim
Matt,

We'll agree to disagree. I've used this methodology for the past couple of years with the athletes I coach and it works.

Best regards,

Tim
2013-10-17 2:26 PM
in reply to: Sidney Porter

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim

Originally posted by Sidney Porter
Originally posted by mcmanusclan5

General question for y'all, and it's the converse of the original.

You ever see someone make considerable gains in OWS (either time/pace or placement) but not in the pool?

My pool times are pretty consistent (-ly poor), but my OWS has improved a ton over the last year (time/pace by the race numbers and garmin and also percentage/placement).  Just curious...

Matt

ETA - same wetsuit as last year and across the season, and no other changes in the OWS.  It could be that my OWS was horrid and is only now catching up with my pool pace, but it's not really that.  OWS paces on my garmin have steadily improved (and I know Garmin is not 100% accurate, but it's a consistent trend across the whole season), while my pool times are only marginally better.

Better sighting Taking better lines and not making the course longer More comfortable swimming in a group

In a race, I totally agree with the sighting and better lines.  Definitely has helped with where I place.  As for the group-grope of a swim start, getting good at drafting has helped, too.

But what puzzles me is an additional point (I happily concede the above ones!).  I swim at the same pond 3-4 per week over the summer and know the distances across and back (and to various points) pretty accurately - and know when I'm swimming straight or got lazy and wandered.  I've seen my out and back times (so, NOT dependent on Garmin) drop all season, to the point that I'm sometimes flying along (for me).

Having gotten back in the pool recently (31 degrees out recently will do that), my times were similar to where I left off in May when I went pretty much 100% OWS.  Then went back in the pond and blamo - still fast (again, for me).

Could it be that I've learned how to swim in a wetsuit?  And not just that the wetsuit is faster than no suit, because my wetsuit times have improved.  Is there such a thing as wetsuit specific (or OWS with suit) specific form that doesn't translate BACK into the pool?

I've been puzzling on this all season, as I don't want to muck up my form over the winter back in the pool (or, conversely, want to stay good at OWS more than I want to get better at pool swimming... acknowledging that they are of course related, but I just don't know how or how much).

Yours in confusion (as usual),

Matt

2013-10-17 2:29 PM
in reply to: JohnnyKay

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim

Originally posted by JohnnyKay

Originally posted by Goggles Pizzano

Then again what do I know since I also think it's an advertisement.

It is.  But from someone who has peviously offered their swimming advice freely on this site.  And who has also offered up the workouts he uses in training his swimmers, as well.  We'll cut him some slack.  ;)

I just swam the workout he posted for Oct 14th over lunch (kicked my butt, btw).  It's really nice to get on and have access to good, free swim sets :)  Thanks!



2013-10-17 3:02 PM
in reply to: switch

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim
I'll try this guys swim workout.

I probably need a coach, though. I've had only two timed OWS but they're both faster than my pool times. That pool turn (even though I was a swimmer in High School) is so unpleasant.

I'd guess the Pool is usually faster than the OWS, but not having to make that stupid tuck & kick is such a relief I go faster in the lake.

The pool is the only stable way to measure progress - agree with Left Brain on that one. What do you do when, though, when it doesn't correlate very well with OWS times?

Wear a dry suit year around and jump into your local reservoir like a crazy person?
2013-10-17 3:08 PM
in reply to: adelsud

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim

Originally posted by adelsud I'll try this guys swim workout. I probably need a coach, though. I've had only two timed OWS but they're both faster than my pool times. That pool turn (even though I was a swimmer in High School) is so unpleasant. I'd guess the Pool is usually faster than the OWS, but not having to make that stupid tuck & kick is such a relief I go faster in the lake. The pool is the only stable way to measure progress - agree with Left Brain on that one. What do you do when, though, when it doesn't correlate very well with OWS times? Wear a dry suit year around and jump into your local reservoir like a crazy person?

Why isn't an OWS along a defined and routinely repeated route adequate?  Not a RACE swim (with all the problems that can have in distance, etc.), but basically treating a pond like a BIG pool?  We only get 5-6 months in the ponds here TOPS without being a crazy person, but that's a goodly amount of swimming time to track progress in OWS, no?

("Pool or a pond... pond would be good for you")

2013-10-17 3:10 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim

Originally posted by mcmanusclan5

Originally posted by Sidney Porter
Originally posted by mcmanusclan5

General question for y'all, and it's the converse of the original.

You ever see someone make considerable gains in OWS (either time/pace or placement) but not in the pool?

My pool times are pretty consistent (-ly poor), but my OWS has improved a ton over the last year (time/pace by the race numbers and garmin and also percentage/placement).  Just curious...

Matt

ETA - same wetsuit as last year and across the season, and no other changes in the OWS.  It could be that my OWS was horrid and is only now catching up with my pool pace, but it's not really that.  OWS paces on my garmin have steadily improved (and I know Garmin is not 100% accurate, but it's a consistent trend across the whole season), while my pool times are only marginally better.

Better sighting Taking better lines and not making the course longer More comfortable swimming in a group

In a race, I totally agree with the sighting and better lines.  Definitely has helped with where I place.  As for the group-grope of a swim start, getting good at drafting has helped, too.

But what puzzles me is an additional point (I happily concede the above ones!).  I swim at the same pond 3-4 per week over the summer and know the distances across and back (and to various points) pretty accurately - and know when I'm swimming straight or got lazy and wandered.  I've seen my out and back times (so, NOT dependent on Garmin) drop all season, to the point that I'm sometimes flying along (for me).

Having gotten back in the pool recently (31 degrees out recently will do that), my times were similar to where I left off in May when I went pretty much 100% OWS.  Then went back in the pond and blamo - still fast (again, for me).

Could it be that I've learned how to swim in a wetsuit?  And not just that the wetsuit is faster than no suit, because my wetsuit times have improved.  Is there such a thing as wetsuit specific (or OWS with suit) specific form that doesn't translate BACK into the pool?

I've been puzzling on this all season, as I don't want to muck up my form over the winter back in the pool (or, conversely, want to stay good at OWS more than I want to get better at pool swimming... acknowledging that they are of course related, but I just don't know how or how much).

Yours in confusion (as usual),

Matt

Your experience is similar to mine.  Almost exclusively in the lake with a wetsuit from May on after a lot of work in the pool through the winter.  Had a big Oly distance PR.  At the end of summer back in the pool and my times are worse from May.  I worked very hard through the summer but my workouts changed to more long intervals and steady swimming with almost no 50 or 100 type repeats.  I know I am much fitter now and I feel stronger and less fatigued just slower in the water.  Maybe I've gotten lazy on my kick, maybe a few form things that the wetsuit masked, maybe just getting more comfortable cruising steady pace instead of suffering???

2013-10-17 3:13 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5


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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim
Originally posted by mcmanusclan5

  Is there such a thing as wetsuit specific (or OWS with suit) specific form that doesn't translate BACK into the pool?


Maybe, have you tried your wet suit in the pool? Look for a salt water pool or make sure you rinse it well if in a chlorine pool. The bouyance could be helping your form so you don't get tht benefit w/o it in the pool.
2013-10-17 6:39 PM
in reply to: adelsud

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim
When your pool times and open water times don't correlate there are a number of different issues that you would need to rule out. But the best way to get better at open water swimming is to train in a pool. Open water swimming tends to develop a very sloppy, inefficient stroke. The skills needed to race well in an open water swim can only really be developed in an open water swim not in open water practice.



2013-10-17 9:50 PM
in reply to: snappingt

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim

Originally posted by snappingt When your pool times and open water times don't correlate there are a number of different issues that you would need to rule out. But the best way to get better at open water swimming is to train in a pool. Open water swimming tends to develop a very sloppy, inefficient stroke. The skills needed to race well in an open water swim can only really be developed in an open water swim not in open water practice.

So pool swim times are a poor metric for open water swimming but swimming in a pool is the best way to train for open water..........my head hurts.

2013-10-18 3:29 PM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim
Left Brain:

Pool times aren't a poor metric, but they should be looked at with a bunch of different metrics to get the full picture. There are a lot of times where improvement in the pool doesn't translate to improvement in open water swimming. In terms of training swimmers to get better at swimming there isn't a better place to do it than in the pool. It is a controlled environment with a known distance, so when you add in the effective use of the pace clock - the pace clock is then the original power meter. I train triathletes exclusively in the pool and know their times to the second so I can come up with the best workouts.

The reason I discourage triathletes and open water swimmers from TRAINING in the open water is about maintaining efficiency in the stroke. The typical training open water swim is slow, continuous without any real set. It's just a long slow swim. What I have observed over the years is that that type of swimming yields a very sloppy stroke because there is a lack of focus and long, slow swimming is boring. It's difficult to maintain focus. And without a coach on the deck telling you that your stroke is getting sloppy the person will then cement a sloppy stroke into place.

I do encourage the swimmers I coach to compete in stand alone open water swims to work on the open water skill set (sighting, navigation, buoy turns, dealing with different conditions), but in a race environment where they are more likely to maintain the stroke technique and focus we have developed in pool practice for fast and efficient swimming.

2013-10-18 3:54 PM
in reply to: snappingt

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Subject: RE: Swim time as a poor metric for an open water swim

Originally posted by snappingt Left Brain: Pool times aren't a poor metric, but they should be looked at with a bunch of different metrics to get the full picture. There are a lot of times where improvement in the pool doesn't translate to improvement in open water swimming. In terms of training swimmers to get better at swimming there isn't a better place to do it than in the pool. It is a controlled environment with a known distance, so when you add in the effective use of the pace clock - the pace clock is then the original power meter. I train triathletes exclusively in the pool and know their times to the second so I can come up with the best workouts. The reason I discourage triathletes and open water swimmers from TRAINING in the open water is about maintaining efficiency in the stroke. The typical training open water swim is slow, continuous without any real set. It's just a long slow swim. What I have observed over the years is that that type of swimming yields a very sloppy stroke because there is a lack of focus and long, slow swimming is boring. It's difficult to maintain focus. And without a coach on the deck telling you that your stroke is getting sloppy the person will then cement a sloppy stroke into place. I do encourage the swimmers I coach to compete in stand alone open water swims to work on the open water skill set (sighting, navigation, buoy turns, dealing with different conditions), but in a race environment where they are more likely to maintain the stroke technique and focus we have developed in pool practice for fast and efficient swimming.

That sounds more better  than where we were on this thread.  Thanks!

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