Finding best Stroke Count in Backstroke Too
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on March 23rd, 2011

After posting the blogĀ A Practice to Find Your Best Stroke this morning, I was inspired to do precisely that during my mid-day practice.
Here are my first two sets
Warmup/Tuneup 3 rounds of [8×50 Free]
In each round of 50s I repeated the same pattern of stroke counts
#1 12+13
#2 13+14
#3 14+15
#4 15+16
#s 5-8 were the same, but in reverse, so #8 was 12+13

My goal in the set was to descend 1-4 in each round, without increasing effort. I hoped to swim faster simply by adding a stroke to each lap.
On #5-8 I hoped to maintain the pace I’d achieved on #4, though subracting one stroke each lap.
I really tried to hold that pace more with precision and synchonicity than with effort.
I did first round on a 50-sec interval (very short rest), second round on 55-second interval, third round on 60-second interval.
I hoped to make average pace/50 a bit faster in each successive round.
I hit my projected stroke count on 22 of the 24 x 50s. I was also pretty consistent in descending when I intended and maintaining when I intended.
My times descended from 46-41 sec on 1st round, from 42-39 sec on 2nd round and from 40-38 sec on 3rd round.

Set #2 2 rounds of [5×100 Back on 2:00]
The pattern here was similar though range of stroke counts was narrower. Goal is to improve times while adding strokes. Hold times while subtracting.
Round #1
14+14+14+15 (57) Strokes – 1 min 45 sec
14+14+15+15 (58) Strokes – 1:42
14+15+15+15 (59) Strokes – 1:40
14+14+15+15 (58) Strokes – 1:40
14+14+14+15 (57) Strokes – 1:40
Round #2 I repeated the same pattern but with 15+16 strokes.
Times descended 1:38-1:35 while adding strokes then to 1:34 while subtracting strokes.

In the last two weeks I’ve done add/subtract sets like these nearly every day in Back and/or Breast – more frequently than ever before in non-freestyle sets. I can really feel my stroke timing and the effectiveness of my stroke improving noticeably as a result.

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