The Use of an Aquapacer in Training by Peter Banks and Patrick Miley (1999)


Hello. Thanks very much and thanks for coming along. I feel as if I know quite a lot of you and yesterday, somebody said it’s quite a big hall, maybe lots of people and maybe not, and if you feel nervous, just imagine that they’re all naked. You’re all looking great from here. Right.


Peter…I met him first in 1997, and it’s been very interesting. We’ve both got an Irish background, and for some reason there were certain aspects of the way we think as far as coaching is concerned that is also very, very similar. However, I think that my technical bias rather than the natural bias that Peter has, helps us complement each other. I certainly learned a lot in the last two years. More than I’ve probably learned in my coaching career.


So what we’re going to try, and do it’ll be kind of accelerated because of the time pressure we’ve got, but these are the contents that we are going to try and hope to cover. If it does get cut short, I apologize here, but we’ll do our best. I’ll try to cover history, methodology, definitions, really basic, that’ll be very quick. Spring freestyle, which I shall cover and then move on to Brooke Bennett. Only for the first eight or nine months of my involvement with her and the rest will be covered by Peter.


I’m not sure if I’ll reach that stage, but if anyone’s interested sometime in the future we’ll discuss that one. Applications and variations will be discussed right at the end. Peter has already introduced me, and what the aquapacer is. Brooke Bennett worked with other swimmers, focusing on stroke rate covering her this year…where the progression has been the most sophisticated and the results have been the best, to the year 2000 and beyond. And the effect of the aquapacer on him and his own coaching thoughts and processes. What does 100th of a second sound like. Well it might sound like a strange statement. For those of you, is there anybody here who doesn’t know what the system is, so I don’t have to explain it. Is there anyone who does not know what an aquapacer is? No?


Basically you put in your split times, your stroke rates, you download from the program and put it into the pacer. The swimmer wears the pacer and then it dictates the stroke rate and the anticipated split times that the swimmer will do. Now there are two pacers sitting here, 100th of a second apart. One is set at 1.12 seconds per stroke, the other one is set at 1.11. 1.12 is the average type of stroke that Brooke took free stroke throughout the 800 meters at the Olympic games when she went 827. The other one is 100th of a second faster. I’m starting them. I’m trying to show them at the same time. Listen to it, and I think you’ll be able to visualize how the strokes separate with only 100th of a second. (Beeping sounds) O.K. Only with 100th of a second variation that visually would be quite obvious if you had two swimmers swimming side by side. Quite often we see that. Certainly Gary Hall Junior and Popov at the last Olympics. They were a mirror image of each other and that 100th of a second difference, if it were there, we would have all seen. So where does that 100th of a second possibly create? I’m not going to try to put this in a scientific way because I think it’s important to try and mix science and the art of coaching without getting too bogged down with the details. So some of the things I say, I know right now will be controversial, but personally I don’t really care. If it means we’re going to break a few barriers and look at something in a different way, then that’s O.K. The quotes, I collect quotes from various athletes, if anyone’s got them from commentators send them to me. I quite like them, so I just wanted to share a few with you. If you can read quickly, that’ll help.


O.K. Back in 1995, in fact let me start right from the beginning. Back in 1990, I would go swimming with swimming goggles and two watches. In fact one watch to start with, and then another one strapped to the side of my head. Set a run down time and then swim 50 meters. I used to say to myself, set it for 40 seconds, and then you’re going to swim 20 minutes will be 1500. Drop it by 1 second, and you’re going to swim 19 minutes but what’s happening to your stroke. Stick a watch on the other side, set some times and see how that affects your time. That was me practically practicing and trying to research in a very naïve way. My own thinking behind the processes that I was already aware of. I used it a lot on the swimmers I was coaching too.


My background being in aviation, flying helicopters is kind of sophisticated to some people, actually basic in others, but what it does do is make you think of things in a very rational and a very performance-orientated way. I started working with Paul Palmer in 1995. Now Paul won the Olympic silver medal in the 400 freestyle, and this is some of the press that came out afterwards. I spent a year or so with Paul and his coach, Ian Turner, training all short course, but the majority of it for the last 10 to 12 months using the aquapacer to concentrate on controlling your stroke rate. The last one we were quite impressed, we’re very proud of our British press. I think you’ll enjoy this one. O.K. One more quote. O.K.


What is stroke rate. Let’s have a look at it. Stroke can be defined as a single complete movement. We’re all aware of that. I wanted to take this back to basics so I can drag you through my brain, which is really what’s going to be spilling out during the next 10 to 15 minutes.


Rate. The relative speed of progress or change of something that’s variable. It’s that variability that is key to the methodology which is involved in aquapacer. Stroke count: Number of strokes for each given lap. Well that one’s easy. Stroke length: Similar to what Bruce said the other day. However, focusing on a fixed point of movement after one completes the stroke cycle. Measure: Measuring things we all measure all the time. Most coaches walk about with at least one stopwatch strapped to them somewhere throughout the whole day. So what are we measuring? Measurement is the extent quantity amount of degree of something. It’s an amount, extent or size determined by measuring. So with those variables in mind and me swimming about in the pool with a watch on the side of my head. What’s going on? Well I’m thinking about what tools have we got as coaches. I’m thinking that time is a measurement that I want to make all of the time. Distance is something that I need to be aware of. Heart rate. That’s important to coaching. And the physiological aspects are going to be key to what I’m doing. Lactate, yeah, well that’s quite sophisticated for someone like me. I’ll have a look and have a listen to that. Stroke rate and stroke length, stroke count. As far as stroke length and stroke count are concerned that’s key to everything. That’s where the performance comes from. That’s the wheels on the car that the engine’s driving. Stopwatch, will facilitate my time requirements to measure. The pool length, well most of us know those. The heart rate monitor will give us the heart rate information were looking for and analyze will give us the lactate information. We’ll look at stroke rate. We tend to use the stroke rate watches. And we also look at videos, and we sit back and try to analyze it. Stroke length, can only to be really calculated by analysis or calculations. All invest in brief in Bruce Masons, an artist at major meets, but he doesn’t come to our town often. Stroke count.  You count them or you can use a counter. O.K.


What’s a swimmer got? Because that’s me. That’s me in the pool. I’m a coach and I’m a swimmer, and I’m thinking what’s important. Well I need to know those measurements. Post exercise, yes but it’s kind of neat if I can have them before the end of the session as well.


What tools have I got? For all of the same variables. As far as time’s concerned, I’ve got that big clock. I’ve got the sweep clock at the end of the pool, and I can pace myself on that. And maybe it’s key as a coach. Personally I think the first thing that I educate my youngsters coming through on is what that thing does. And how it does it, and what I’m looking for and how I’m thinking. Breaking it down into quarters and half minutes rather than talking about seconds. Keep it simple for them. Right from the moment we start competitive swimming as coaches, we’re getting theme to look at that clock. The only measurement that they really have reference to. Pool length. Well most of them will know the length of the pool. It’s a post exercise event. You tend to get the heart rate monitor, put it on or count the beeps, look at the clock again and learn those measurements. The swimmers are getting involved in the measuring process. It’s key.


Lactate. Well it’s down to the coach. Because I’m a swimmer, I don’t understand it. Let them tell me what it means and how I’m going to use it. It’s far too complicated, too sophisticated, I’m just a swimmer.


Stroke rate. Well that’s sort of an instinct thing for me. When he says pick up my rate, I know what that means, but I don’t know how much he wants me to pick it up really. It would be pretty hard to try to describe what those words meant. Stroke length. Well again that’s a net result of the stroke rate and all the other variables I’ve decided to pick. Thinking of free style, if I wanted to kick hard, I can imagine I might get a longer stroke. I don’t know but I might. Variables I can’t measure. And I can count. I can manage that one. So all those variables and those tools that are available to us as coaches and as swimmers. The definition of rate strokes per minute we can record that on a stopwatch and the adjustments are not equal in time. To me that’s key to what I’m trying to talk about in this simple methodology. The time per stroke is exactly the same, time per stroke means stroke rate, but it’s a different way of defining it. It’s seconds per stroke. You can use a stop watch, you can look at 10 strokes, stop, have a look at it. Divide that figure by ten. It’s quite easy. The adjustments though, if I make them to those stroke times is equal. Each stroke will be adjusted by an equal amount of time.


Stroke rate versus time per stroke, I know there are some people, particularly the Australians, who have taken it on. Perhaps I’ve even helped to convert some of them. Peter works on stroke rate. I work on seconds per stroke. They’re both the same thing. But, for what I’m trying to do and the way I think, to me seconds per stroke is more important, if not better, it’s not worse. If I have a high stroke rater, about 50 which equals, is equivalent of 1.20 seconds per stroke, and I want to reduce by one stroke per minute, it’s actually 2/100th of a second that I need to reduce the time to reach stroke action. Brooke Bennett will arrive at around about 56/57 strokes a minute over 400 meters. That’s extremely quick. It’s a very marginal amount of time difference in her stroke cycle. However, William Faulke swims, and he’s around about 34/36 strokes a minute. Here 34 strokes a minute is equivalent to 1.76 seconds per stroke. If I reduce that, wrong, if I increase that by one stroke per minute, it’s actually 5/100th seconds difference in time. The time variations are not equal. Why is that important? Is Ernie here. Is Ernie still here? I hope he doesn’t mind me putting that up. And the piece that I want you to focus on is that swimmers will swim faster when they can increase their average stroke for a race without reducing their stroke length. Conversely at times, they will be faster if they increase their average stroke length to race without reducing their stroke rate. I think that’s perfect, that’s true, that’s exact. However, we do still get faster when we increase our stroke rate sometimes, and maybe we do lose some stroke length. And what’s key is whether we can maintain that velocity. Because I am actually, I’m personally interested in the measurement of the velocity at the competition time not in the training time so much but at the competition time. So my personal addendum to what Ernie says, and Ernie says an awful lot more than I do, is that the most effective strategy for a given race might be considered to be the highest stroke rate, which provides optimal efficiency and physiological demands and second quality without losing stroke length. And most importantly which can be maintained by the swim of the duration of the race.


I think you’ll like this one. Foster and Popov. This is the European championships in 1997, and I’ll try and quickly pull you through the graph. On the taller columns, you have the blue, light blue column, which is marked Foster’s velocity and a dark purple column which is marked Popov’s velocity. And as you can see in the first 10 meters, each one of these blocks is a 10 meter separation for the 50 meters one. The time per stroke and the velocity as the variables up on the vertical. In the first 10 meters, Mark is swimming faster than Alex. In the second 10 meters, he still is, he’s still getting the benefit of quite a superlative dive and start sequence that he has. It’s very natural, however, something’s happening between 30 meters here, because the rate of deceleration of Mark Foster to Popov is far greater than the deceleration for Popov because of course that’s what 50 meter sprinting is about. It isn’t about swimming faster as you go along. It’s actually trying to arrest the rate at which you are decelerating. At the bottom, you’ve got the time per stroke and if you can see, the left had column of the two is getting taller than the right hand column. That’s because the time in which Mark Foster’s taken to take his stroke for each 10 meter section, is getting longer. His stroke rate is reducing. At a greater rate than that of Popov. Very quickly, what does that mean? Well throughout each of the 10 meter sections Mark Foster’s first time per stroke within the 10 meters can be called 1.04 seconds per stroke. Popov just 1/100th of a second different giving a shorter stroke length by 7 cm. Popov actually has a bit of an anomaly here and picks up his stroke rate in the second 20 meters. We could discuss that but we won’t right now.


Generating a much shorter stroke length but what’s happening as Mark reduces his wrong increases his time per stroke by reducing stroke rate, he ends up having a drop off of 14/100ths of a second over a 22 second period. Popov only loses 7. He only loses half the amount. However, on analysis the difference in the distance per stroke is exactly the same. Which is why I’ve chosen this example. The only variable that we can measure is dictated by who’s going to win that race is the rate. Or the ability or inability to hold that rate. So what does that mean? Well in basic terms, Mark swims the fastest. Alex wins the race but Mark swims faster. Stroke rate drops off 100% more. The stroke length is greater, but the drop off is the same. Velocity drops off more quickly with an average of 2.26 meters per second. Popov swims slower. Stroke rate drops off 100% less. Stroke length is less, the drop off is exactly the same. If velocity drops off  more slowly with an average just 1cmm per second 22 seconds, 1cmm per second, that’s about 22 cmm. It’s worth a lot at the end of the race.


So let’s consider what might be happening. I’m getting into territory that I don’t know enough about, but I’ll throw them out into the floor. It’s fatigued off to 10 seconds perhaps, 8-10 seconds, so I know a certain amount having worked with Mark a little bit down at Bath. And his aerobic work is not in the same league as that of Alex Popov. He works very much like a sprinter on the track. It’s a 10 second event. This is a 22 second event. Personally, I think that’s an aerobic event relatively speaking. An inability to maintain stroke rate. An inability to increase stroke length with that decreasing stroke rate, therefore you’re going to get slower. Whereas Popov fatigues off to round about 20 seconds. O.K. he’s fatiguing all the time, but when it comes to effecting his stroke, holding ability, it’s evident by 20 seconds. His ability to maintain stroke rate is much superior. His ability to maintain stroke length and maintain stroke rate is much superior. It’s not exact. He does lose some stroke length but not as much    as Mark. Accuracy, control and adaptation. That’s key to the way I think about coaching. If I could be accurate with what I’m doing, the swimmers could be accurate with what I want them to do. If I could control that which is where I come from here, then I’m going to gain the adaptation that I’ve been looking for.


Quickly moving on then, I’ll hand over to Peter. When I first met Brooke and Peter—I met Peter in Birmingham, as he mentioned earlier, and I went down to Brandon and met Brooke, and they treated me and Richard, who’s here, extremely well. And one of the days after working with them for a while, I went down with Forbes Carlisle and we had some really interesting times with Gregg as well working with the aquapacer, having just introduced it to Brooke. She’s three weeks out of the Pan Pacs, she hadn’t been in the water, she was not fit as far as Peter was concerned. But I easily wanted to descend her from 70 down to 62, which is her world record pace for 800 freestyle here. From 70 seconds, 68,66,64,62 on a swim instead of 5/100th going off 1 minute 45, and all I was doing was controlling her velocity by increasing her stroke rate. And I’d looked at it very closely in order to do that. I think, myself, when I mentioned it Peter said, she won’t hold 64s, and I was very anxious, and I thought O.K., I’ll change it, but Brooke actually said no leave it, let’s try it, which is what she did. And as you can see here, this is her stroke rate increasing, and these are the splits first and second 50. So, pretty evenly swum throughout all five sets. I was reasonably confident that she was going to be able to do it.


I think that Forbes and Peter were reasonably surprised at how well she was able to achieve this. Which is the psychological side of having something on top of the swimmer while it’s taking every single stroke action.


Now what was the value of that to me. Well when that’s the same information just put up in a different way, you can look at that. When I looked at Brooke in great detail, post the Olympic games, (I hadn’t met Peter) I’d actually noticed Brooke screaming up the left hand side of the screen on the TV in 1994 at the World Championships. This spider coming up to win bronze medal at the World Championships. I was stunned at the rate at which that young girl was swimming. I was very, very fascinated when Peter approached me in Birmingham in 1997. So I looked at Brooke very, very closely over that period. And when she went 8:27 at the Olympic Games her average time per stroke was 1.12 seconds. She went through 400 meters in 4 minutes and 12 seconds. And here’s Peter saying to me, how can we get Brooke to go World Record 800? Best time 826 at that time which she got at the Pan Pacs. World Record, 8 minutes 16. It’s a big, big deal.


So my first question was, what’s best for 400 meters, and it was 4 minutes 10 just about. Janet Evans went through 400 in 4 minutes and 7 to go 8/16. Until Brooke can do 4/7 and faster, then we got to stage towards that. So let’s focus on the 400 meters at the World Championship, and that’s exactly what Peter said he wanted to do.


Now for every stroke that Brooke takes, here’s my rule of thumb. It’s not science it’s just the experience of what I’ve had so far, so you can take it or leave it. For most International swimmers, and I include Paul Palmer who’s six foot six, and he’s a very high stroke racer. It includes Ian Thorpe, who I worked with earlier in the year. It includes Brooke Bennett, who is an extremely high stroke racer and certainly not six foot six. If you can’t remember the strokes that she takes, 25 on average, 50 meters when she’s racing. You reduce the time per stroke by 1/100th of a second. 25 times 100. .25 of a second. So she loses no distance for stroke. She’s going to go .25 of a second faster. That’s true, but what’s going to happen in reality is, she’s going to go half of that on an analysis. I think it was about 16 or 18 swimmers, swim internationals or not, it worked out to about 8% accurate to do that to make that assumption. So I assume 50% because at least I think I’m going to be on the right side of the ballpark. So if we are going to take somebody in September 1997, and say you’re going to swim an awful lot fast, 5 seconds faster than the point at which 400 meters going 800 at the Olympic games, you’re going to swim that 5 seconds faster…let’s address just race alone. You got 4 months. You can’t do a lot else. You haven’t got time to work on stroke length. Let’s just go for that one. Have a look at it and see what happens. So 1/100th of a second will be for 50% of the calculated difference assuming she held stroke length. Which she will lose it. What does that mean? That means that for her to go for 4/12 down to 407 she’d have to lose 6/100ths of a second. O.K. You can calculate that one out.


So we did that, and that was what was actually based on the 62 second swims on the descending set of 100s. What’s interesting at this point for me, I was very naïve, she’s three weeks out of the water at Pan Pacs, I’d taken everything that Peter had said about her not being fit at the moment because she’s been out. I personally think she was a lot fitter than all of us realized. Because rest is an issue, and I’m not sure that sometimes we don’t rest them enough before a competition, however, that’s another issue altogether. So here she is with 6/100ths of a second less and she’s getting 62s and she’s able to do it three weeks after she’s tapered for the Pan Pacific games. I felt confident that if she did taper, and she went into the World Championships, she could hold that stroke rate, that’s Peter’s job. That’s the hard bit. How does he do that? Then she would go 407.


She went to the world championships, and she swum 407:07, and I think that that was probably quite a proud moment for her. She felt very, very happy about that, and I noticed that a ripple around America, people saying that well Brooke suddenly dropped 2.7 seconds on her PB. What happened, it took 4 months. This is how sad I can be. I can sit at home with videos and TVs and set out all these spreadsheets and start working out the key things that are important in my mind. They do not have the policy of accuracy that Bruce Mason has, but I am trying my best. So the time per stroke here, this is a comparison of the world championship swim this is in the blue. Her average time per stroke by the way, when she went for her 407.7 1.05 seconds per stroke. So that 1/100th of a second O.K. we’ll give her that one. But I was aiming at 407.5 not 407.7. Velocity, obviously that was faster when you compare the world championship swim to the Olympic games. The first 400 meters of the Olympic 800 by the way.


Finally the distance per stroke. Sorry about the quality of the screen. She’s lost distance per stroke, going back to what I said post to that. Hey, if they’re going to swim faster and can maintain the rate, then let’s look at it, and let’s see what’s going to happen. That’s what it looks like graphically. In the red stroke rate for the first 400 in Atlanta to be over 4 minutes and 12. In the blue, the stroke rate at the World championships in order to go 4 minutes and 7.7. And down below, the net velocity. The net velocity for the World Championships…it’s amazing how much your hand shakes, um, in the red the net velocity for the first 400 of the Olympics. And here we see, she’s paid off. She said, hey I want to go faster, and my stroke length has gone, but I’m going faster. Her stroke length is significantly less. But that’s what’s important, the velocity.


When I went back in February, and I’ll finish off in a moment, I again, naively thought well this is nice, I’ll see Peter and I’ll see Brooke and it’s only about 4 or 5 weeks off the world championships. It’ll be really nice, I’ll feel good about myself. I stupidly went in and said to Peter, let’s just repeat that set because there’s something I just want to look at. And what happened was that when I got there, I repeated based on what I saw a similar set, so time per stroke, so what she did here in the blue is what she did in 1997, when I first met her. On that set of 5/100ths I generated that time. With this faster stroke rate by a lesser time per stroke it generated a slower time. As she came up and touched on the first 100, I thought what’s going on and here the very similar time per stroke, very similar stroke rate, slightly slower stroke rate, she went an awful lot slower. And here on the third 100 very, very similar stroke rate. She’s almost 2 seconds or 1.6 seconds slower. And here once again with a much faster stroke rate, she’s still 2 seconds, almost, slower. Then the last one, we did almost exactly the same stroke rate, well you can see, she’s over 3 seconds slower. She was in heavy training. It might be really obvious. A lot of coaches here are thinking well wasn’t looking really gone in heavy straight after the world championships. That was true, but what did that tell Peter and I? That told us that she can hold the rate I actually did a swim after that, Peter might remember the figures. I just wanted to see that she could still do 62 and she could. We had to drop her down to a second per stroke but she could still do 62. So her superiority in swimming turns to me, and I don’t really care whether this is scientific or not, is her ability to hold the race. So if you can train Brooke to a rate and you can work on that, and you can get her strength up and her speed up, all you’ve got to do is wait for the taper. Watch that length come back, and then you still hit the times that you wanted to hit and that is the process that Pete’s going through right now.


Here we have the time per stroke for 1997, and time per stroke for 1998 when I went back just after the world championships and this, these are the times, I think. Yes. They’re the 100 meter time reached the five swims. And as you can see, consistently one to two and almost three seconds difference between each. O.K. I think that’s me up, and I’ll hand over to Peter.


This is I’ll rush you through this very quickly, I like to program the pacer with the expected stroke rate and splits that we’ve worked on and then sit on the pool side, and when everyone’s getting their stopwatches going, I stick a pacer, knock off five or six seconds from the first lap, and then start it as the going goes. And then pick it up and listen and look at the swimmer. It’s not just a tool for swimmers telling them what to do. It’s a tool for the coach. Strap it to the side of a video camera and video your swimmers. You don’t have to go back and analyze anything cause the noise that you’re going to be taping is going to be equal to what you’re expecting, and you’re looking at what you’re getting. O.K. I’d like to hand over now to Peter. Thanks.


So where do I go from here? How does all this information that I kept getting from Patrick, and the thing that I kept trying to do was to, I don’t ever want to lose the fact that I’m a coach, and I’m on the side of the pool. I coach an awful lot by my gut feeling and how I do and how I see the swimmers. To start using science a lot more is nearly adverse to what   I feel sometimes about what I want to do, and sometimes I want to place them at it harder, and I want to do things that maybe scientifically don’t sound really right, but you know my gut feeling and my coaching instinct tell me that this is what I want to do, and this is how I want to get on and coach faster and get the swimmers to swim faster.


And people like Brooke, as Patrick explained, is a real high volume swimmer and real high volume turn-over type of swimmer. It’s real important that I think that’s where she feels her most comfortable in her training and her racing, and it’s real important to her. I try to lengthen her stroke. I try to do things with her that everybody says I should have done and should do as far as making her stroke better. And she didn’t like it. She fought against it. She didn’t want to do it, and I felt, well you know why fix what’s not broken in the sense of what she really likes to do is real important for her. She was making her swim fast and she likes that feeling, how that turnover feeling feels when she swims. So then I looked back, and say well how can I make her turnover better suited for her? How do I train that turnover…to make it work for her better. That’s why I came up with Patrick.


With Patrick we see how we can make that more efficient. You know looking at her stroke rates, looking at what she does… can I make her swim at that stroke rate and make her swim a world record? And I truly believe that she has the capabilities of swimming a world record. A lot of people don’t believe that I think that. A lot of people last year in 1998, after she swam in the Nationals, wrote her off. And I really believe that we had a plan, and we stuck to it, and she came back, and she swam tremendously well. I still think she could have swam faster at the Pan Pacs, but we’re working on that. And I think we’ll get there, as long as she’s willing to buy into this. And, she really has bought into this whole concept of what stroke rate means to her. And, to the point that when she’s actually at a swim meet or doing warm up splits or doing even pace swims at practice, she’ll ask what her stroke rate is rather than even what time she did because she has a comfort level of where her stroke rate should be, and she knows what works for her at this point, and she knows that if her stroke rates are where they shouldn’t be. She knows she needs to adjust her stroke or adjust her training to help work on that so that comfort level is there. I think it’s is a real education for her and it’s given her another set of focus point.


So what we’ve done in previous years, I believe, I don’t swim at 3,000 per time at practice, we do a lot of test sets of 10/300, and so what I try to do is early on last year, especially last year when we were going through a pretty difficult stage in our training and adjustment stage and a lot of things, we decided to do, throughout the year, a set of 10/300s. The first set we did was in September, mid-September, when we started doing these, and we gave Brooke 10/300s. Well our whole team does this, our whole National group. We gave Brooke this set, and this was without the aquapacer, this was to just start off the season and see where we were. She did the times, where at the bottom, the average time was 325.9 her stroke rates were there on the left, where she was 1.23 and basically she was pretty consistent on the stroke rates, we felt they were pretty good. The time where she was just getting back in training was 325, and she did come off a pretty bad summer. She had a shoulder injury and she really wasn’t swimming very well at that time. So an average of 325 was, I felt pretty good, or is that 326 I can’t, 326. So I thought that was a pretty good start to the season, though we started off with that. Then I think it was about 8 to 9 weeks later, we gave the next set and we noticed again the time was a little bit, not much faster the average time, but we noticed on the left hand side there that the stroke rate, the time strokes per second was far more efficient. So she was doing around the same time, but she was doing it a lot more efficiently. We really felt that we were getting a better conditioning factor coming in, we were looking better, our conditioning, and obviously we’re training better so then looked at that result. We looked at the distance per stroke, it’s also from the first swim, our first set of best swims to the second set, is also better. So you see there are the things that I felt, yes we’re going in the right direction.


The next time we did it was actually after Christmas, and what we did was we put the aquapacer on her, and we decided to use the aquapacer based on the last two swims, we set the aquapacer to try and see how she would do. This set is done 10/300s with 20 seconds rest. It’s not done on a specific time, it’s a 20 second rest swim, and so she averaged 324 basically 108s on that set. So I really was pleased. We used the aquapacer to control the stroke rate, and we were basically round 1. I think it was 1.7, 1.8 that we set the aquapacer on, and she was pretty consistent all the way through on that. So and again these were taken with a stop, with my watch during when I was trying to take everybody swimming. So the accuracy might not be exactly right on the stroke rates, but it is pretty accurate as we were going through because there were five or six other kids doing the set at the same time. But I felt we were getting the efficiency in the stoke, the stroke rate that she was training at, and we were getting some faster times, so they were the three swim sets, and as we went through the year, I felt, well they get used to doing that 10/300s, how can I challenge them, how can I challenge her next. That’s basically the analysis on a graph basically of the 10/300s.


The next thing we did was, it was sort of a time gap and we had done 3/100s again. Later on in the season, I didn’t want to go 10/300s. I decided to do this set where we went, 3 100s one week, the second week we went 2 100s, and the third week we went 10/100s, and we looked at the stroke rate. We used the aquapacer to try and set the stroke rates that we wanted to do, and then to see how are we doing again on the fitness level and how are we doing on speed? So at the end of June, the 29th of June, we went 3 1/100s on 140. The first set of ten was 52.5 strokes per minute, average time was 107.5. The second set of ten a bit more efficient on the stroke rate, it’s a little bit slower, but I’ve felt that you were going into 20, and this third set of ten we were increasing the stroke rate. She got into the set of that stage, and she ended up increasing the stroke rates, but she was faster. So again, I was pretty pleased with that set. I felt we went right through that set. We didn’t take a break. Although we broke it into 10, we actually went right through that whole 3 100s without a break, and the thing that I was concerned about, we broke and this is one of the reasons why I’m using the aquapacer, is that she can train and train and train.


We talked about the speed of the swimmers this morning when they were talking in the talks this morning about how fast the swimmers, Brooke doesn’t have many people to train against that can stay with her or challenge her in training, and this is one of the things with the aquapacer, I felt that we could use the aquapacer somewhat to challenge her to do some of the things that we needed to do in training. I think that was one of the reasons that I got involved as well—to try to use the aquapacer as a challenge to her to use this stroke rate and so on that I think are real important. I think the 53.4 strokes per minute is very critical to Brooke because one of the things I talked to Patrick about was a thresholder, an aerobic thresholder, and the aerobic threshold that we train at. I really believe, having done this, that there’s a stroke rate threshold. There’s a strokes per minute threshold that these swimmers, somebody like Brooke, can train at. That is an optimal type of stroke rate that is real important for her to actually train at to be optimal right through the season and to get the best benefit. I think if I’m asking her to swim and race at 53.4 or 55.4 or whatever, I think it’s real important that she train at that stroke rate, that’s just not going to happen on the day that we go to the swim meet. Whether the time is accurate or not , whether the time is equal to what the time we want to do when she goes to competition, I do believe it’s real important to train at that optimal stroke rate that she’s going to compete at. I don’t know whether that’s right or not. I think to me it sounds right. To me I think, it’s where I’m going with her training and we’ll see. We’ll see in a, I hope, this time next year, whether it’s right or not.


The next set was 2 100s on the 5th July this year. The first 10 we were 53.41. She was 1050 so we look at the same stroke per minute, we’re a little bit faster…we’re about 4/10 faster on those, average times on those first 10. Second 10 we upped it a little bit. So we’re getting to the point where that threshold that I talked about. Are we just right on the threshold at 53.4. Are we right where it needs to be as far as maintaining a 105, and if she goes up to the 54, is she losing a bit of efficiency? Maybe she’s starting to slip in the water, maybe she’s maintaining the stroke rate, but she’s not actually getting what she needs. She’s shortening the stroke.


You know we start to look at it at that point though. I think this is real critical to the stroke rates and looking at what’s real important to her. Then we went 10 actually that should be 10, 10/100s on the 12th, the following week, and I was disappointed in this because I had set the aquapacer for 1044. I based it on the other swims, and I said we are going to be around 54.5. I think I set the aquapacer strokes per minute and she went 105.1, and I was sort of scratching my  head, and I put it down to where we were training that week. It just happened to be, I don’t think we did a really good site or a real good curve, and we all go through those days where we come into the pool and we have a set plan, and we go and try to do a set, and the swimmer doesn’t respond to what I want them to do. I think we all go through that as coaches, and it happened that day, but it still told me that she maintained the time. But what happened was she tried with the stroke rates, she increased the stroke rate to try and go faster, so all she ended up doing was shortening the stroke or slipping or going soft as I say sometimes on that stroke. So I think you know that was an important sort of tool that I used in July to see where we were because I was concerned. We were coming into Nationals and we were coming into Pan Pacifics, how fast we were going, our conditioning.


I was really focused this year on swimming a really good 1500, and I thought, How are we going, and I really felt very comfortable after seeing these times. I think she was going to swim a real good 1500 this year. Because I really felt that you know, she was maintaining the times, she was able to maintain a stroke rate that I thought was going to be a very comfortable stroke rate when she rested and was out of the heavy part of her training, getting into August, that I felt to maintain 53 to 54 strokes per minute was going to be a very achievable thing for her to swim somewhere close to 16 minutes in her 1500. Then that’s what we were training for going into Nationals, and then obviously she’d follow on to the Pan Pacs. So looking at where we have been, and where we’re going to as far as Brooke’s times, looking at the things that have been August 95, her personal best was 410 46, Olympics she only had 800 827. So the focus on stroke rate, it started in about 97. So in 97, 826, 8 409 77 and then working with Patrick and the 407 07 we felt was really a breakthrough for Brooke. Again I felt that if we wanted to challenge her and make the world record seen she had to swim a little bit faster and how do we get her to swim faster? She maintained a really good stroke rate, we’ll show you in a minute.


And then we went to the Pan Pacs and again 825, and to me, if you look at Brooke and Brooke’s development, she’s one of the most consistent people to improve over the last three years. I think we’ve adapted her swimming…changed how we’ve looked at her swimming, and I think it’s helped her change and improve her times. I think that’s why I think she’ll continue to improve. I’m not real good at this power point stuff, but so we looked at her stroke rate when she went 8278 in the Olympics as 1.12. We took the split of the 400 again, and it was 1.12 strokes per minute or 53.4 strokes per second on the left.  Pan Pacs there was no change.


The world championships in 1998, this is a significant change. She was 40707, and she had 1.05 strokes per second, or 57.2 strokes. So I looked at that and I said, how can I get this 1.05 for 800 meters. If I can get her to swim 1.05 strokes per second for 800 meters or 57.2 strokes per minute for 800 meters do we have a world record? That’s the challenge

I’m setting myself. How do I do that? How does she need to get stronger? Does she need to do more speed work? Does she need to do things in the training pool that will help her to simulate that? And I think it’s going to be a combination of those things. Her 1500 on her Florida regionals in 1999, we’ll just put that in there, was she swam 1500 1627 at 1.12, so I felt that was, we were progressing since 1996, looking at where she was 827 and maintaining a good stroke rate. That was in the middle of training that was as I say, July it was just after those 100s that we did and we went and swam tired and that was one of her best swims this year, unrested.


Then we went to Nationals in August and the 1500 1614 and again she held the same stroke. So we’re getting more rested. We’re 53.4 where she was in 96 so how, why did that happen from 96 to 99? I believe she got stronger physically, I think we trained and maintained that stroke rate, and I think that was real important so those two factors, I think are real important for her. I feel that she could have gone faster at Nationals. I was real disappointed with that time because I think the pool affected her. I think, I don’t want to blame things, and I don’t want to make excuses for swimmers, but I do think it did not help her in that 1500. That’s when I felt that she could have, 403 at Nationals was 412 49 and again 1.13 stroke, 53.1. So you can see there is a consistent pattern there with her stroke rates, and where she is and she wasn’t fully rested going into nationals, she was still swimming pretty much a pretty consistent volume going into nationals. We were swimming early in the morning and swimming our races, then coming back at night and swimming again at night. So she was most probably around 10,000 a day pretty consistently during Nationals.


We went on to the Pan Pacs, this is very good Patrick, and we were 800 at 825 her best time. So we were rested, we slammed a 400 in 412. At 800 she was 1.13, 53.1 so therefore, you can see the difference in the rest. What happened is she would be able to maintain this stroke, but the rest made her more efficient. She made, in other words, earlier on the stroke rate, was at that point, but it wasn’t as efficient. She might have been shortening the stroke, as she got more rest, the stroke became more efficient, and she got the stroke rate maintained. What she was real comfortable with then was being able to hold that 825. The 400 was 1.09, 55.0 strokes per minute and again. I think the significant thing here is that we’re going from the World Championships, and if we can come down now, we are at 1.09 and 40839, and we were at 4009 and were at 1.05 so the efficiency is if she went back to the 1.05 that she did at the World Championships. Patrick what does that equate to , you’ve worked it out already, I reckon that it will probably take her down to round about 405.


So there are the figures, that this whole process has been able to give me back and made me focus on, so I’m looking to say, be the most efficient I can be with someone like Brooke. Look at her, look at what she does the best. Look at where I can use this in training and then move it to where it’s in the most, I’m not asking her to do something she hasn’t done already, she’s already done that 1.05, the 57. strokes per minute. I’m asking her to regenerate that because we’re getting faster, we’re getting stronger, to look at swimming faster and later on next year.


So I hope you can see, I hope I’m making sense at this stage. So this is a graph situation, and the thing isn’t really very clear. We’re just comparing basically the information that we were showing there in a graph situation. Do you want me to explain that? The previous one and this one are both the same subject. It’s comparing, let me get this right, the first 800 meters of the 1500, which she did at the Florida Regionals, compared to the 800 at the Olympic Games. The previous one showed that she got a much less distance per stroke, which is not the important one. Here it’s about that. She’s holding the same stroke rate as she previously did for 800 maintaining it at 1500. It’s what Peter was aiming at. Seeing how high a stroke rate she could hold when still reasonably in heavy training, and aiming at watching that stroke length come back as she tapers, so that was quite exciting at that time. Again this is the 10/100s , what’s this 10/100s going on 3 minutes and that was the one in February. That was the one we already showed. That was the second set. Again this is the same set just a different graph.


One of the things that with Brooke’s not so particularly well last summer, her confidence had sort of gone down a little bit. Not that she didn’t believe in herself, but she sort of obviously, like any swimmer, Brooke had never had a bad year since she was ten years of age. She always had good years in swimming. She’d never had a lean year. Although you can’t say swimming in January 1998 407 was a lean year, but when she came back to nationals and got beaten a couple of times, it was to her certainly a lean year and you know, I felt with the focusing on some of these things, took away from that distraction of not swimming well, and said, we’re building towards a better thing. We’re building towards something down the road, and I think that helped her refocus and really get back to where she needs to be and you know, that was an added advantage.


Talking about Brooke, I wanted to mention one or two other swimmers. I have a girl who swims in the 25 K who went to the Pan Pacific Games and one the 25K. She’s 15 years of age. You talk about Brooke having a high turnover, she was 59 strokes per minute about a year and a half ago, and she now swims, you can imagine trying to swim a 25K at 59 strokes per minute. Well now she swims 46.3 strokes per minute. It’s where she really trains at. She’s dropped down to that 46.3 by just working with the aquapacer. It was the most amazing thing that I ever saw as I sat in the boat for 5 and a quarter hours with this girl swimming the 25K, and she was 46.4, 46.25, 46.27 strokes for 25K. Never changed her stroke rate for that whole 25K, and she does more work, most probably, with the aquapacer than even Brooke does. And that was pretty amazing. That sort of blew my mind to see to sit there and watch that. I got tired because in the 25K you write the stroke rates for the swimmers to show them in the boat, I got tired writing the same stroke rate, so I started drawing pictures for her because it was just, she was just hitting that stroke rate so consistently, and she said the thing that made her do that was just working with the aquapacer because she had a terrible stroke originally. She’s not a great swimmer but now, she’s got a good stroke for a 25K, but that’s just another side story to where we’re at.


With Brooke, and this is just a graph or just some information, we also work a lot on heart rates when we’re doing this. It just gives me a correlation of what they’re doing as far as the stroke rate and how it works with the heart rate, and we’ll take times, do sets of 10/100s and 300s. We’ll also take those heart rates and see where we’re at again as far as trying to correlate the threshold type of thing with the heart rate and the stroke rate and see if there is a tie-in and is there any information coming back on the heart rate. I think they’re very, very much tied in together as far as the what they’re doing and on maintaining the stroke rate how they are and how efficient they are. Also with the heart rate where they’re at and that threshold type of thing, because we use the 10/300s as basically trying to get an aerobic threshold to see—that’s why we only give them 20 seconds rest, to try and see what we need to be working at. When we’re maintaining a stroke rate and maintaining a heart rate and maintaining  a time, we’ve got three pieces of information that we can really work on there.


I know we’re coming right back on top of time, and it’s 5 o’clock, and I know they’re trying to set up here for the dinner tonight, and I don’t want to go much. Are there any questions just you know as we start to wrap up on this. I know I’ll be here for the next week at the USA convention, if you have any questions. Anybody has any questions later on, they want to talk to Patrick or myself about it and again, you’ve Email or whatever, you can if you have a system or you’re starting to use something like this and you want to try and find out a little bit more about it. I’m not here selling this by the way. I really don’t want to sound like I’m out here selling the product, I’m not. I’m just trying to show the advantage of using another tool that’s really, really helped my swimmer, and I think that’s helped other swimmers in our program. I think that’s the advantage of why I wanted to do this, and I think it’s real important. Any questions? O.K. Thanks a lot. I appreciate you coming.

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