Using Metrics that Matter
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on August 4th, 2011

Steve Howard a 58 y.o. TI enthusiast from Lafayette LA began working on distance swimming (and triathlon) last year as the centerpiece of a quest to improve his health. Early on, to sharpen his motivation, he began entering open water events, culminating on July 16 in completing the 6-Mile Kingdom Swim in northeast VT , an impressive accomplishment for someone so new to swim training. Steve finished in 5 hours 17 minutes, a pace of about 3 minutes per 100 yards, wearing a wet suit. Afterwards, he told me his next goal was to complete the 10-mile edition of the Kingdom Swim in 2012. I suggested that completing 6 miles already demonstrates great endurance and that a better goal for now would be to focus on improving his speed or pace, with the help of a Tempo Trainer and Stroke Count. Here’s Steve’s progress report:

Terry since the 6-mile Kingdom swim on July 16, as you recommended, I’ve been working on ‘measured pace improvement’ by focusing on metrics of Stroke Length and Tempo, rather than yards swum. In just over two weeks, I’ve improved my pace per 100 yards for a 1-mile pool swim from 2 min 33 sec to 2:15 to 2:06. My goal of maintaining a 2 min/100 yard pace for a continuous mile is now in sight.  Also, by completing my daily distance swim in 40 minutes or less, I now have 20 minutes for drill practice as my warm-up and warm-down and still complete my practice in an hour.

Many folks overlook metrics like this, but being an engineer, I really enjoy looking at them. And they really help me improve!

Steve’s next event will be the US Masters National 2-Mile Cable Swim in Lake Placid on Aug 13 (the Betsy Owens Memorial Cable Swim) joining me and other TI coaches and swimmers.

Goals are good for both health and performance. Steve’s goals of improving endurance, then improving speed, are both good for his health and happiness. Tracking progress toward goals in objectively measurable ways is best of all.

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4 Responses to “Using Metrics that Matter”

  1. Sal says:

    Over the last year I’ve watched Steve transform his swimming on many levels with TI. It’s exciting to see such a change first hand. Go Steve !

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  2. Ian Macdonald says:

    As a serious competitive master, I am finding that the math is as important as the”art” of swimming efficiently. I am 53 and my training partner is 55. This year he set several Canadian records and should make top ten in world, as we both have in the past. We are starting to incorporate the tempo trainer more into our workouts. We can both swim pretty 50m shortcourse repeats @39-40 sec and hold at 28-29 strokes. As we get faster, down to 35 sec. or less, our strokes/50m goes up to 31-32. This year we both want to try to break 18:00 for the 1500m shortcourse. What are some good ways of playing with the tempo trainer to improve SPL and stroke rate over the next 8 months?

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  3. AC says:

    “I now have 20 minutes for drill practice as my warm-up and warm-down.”

    Hmmm, this seems like a good idea.

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  4. Dan says:

    Hey, that is great steve. But how can you stay in the water for five hours without getting tired, since you are new to swimming? At your age do you have any physical issues like heart disease or HBP?

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