As I was finishing my swim yesterday, the local masters coach asked me my stroke count. I dusted off my dazed and confused look that I use for such occasions and said, "huh?". Of course I know what it means but I never thought about how it might actually apply to me and/or my swimming. So, I said, "give me 40 to 42 seconds and I'll tell you" and I took off from the wall.
40 to 42 seconds later, I announced, "22 going North, 25 going South, there must be a current in this pool." He told me that I should try to get to 20 and that he averages 13; so for every two laps I do, he's able to do 3 laps with the EXACT same effort. Light bulbs started going off all over the place for me. I want to swim with less effort; that will make my life better.
So now I had a goal, 20 strokes per lap. I thought I could stretch my arms a bit, possibly kick harder, and if all else fails, shorten the pool. I knew I had to get to 20 somehow. Then I went to Chopstick's practice yesterday and counted strokes on the kids doing backstroke. Hmm, the fastest kids didn't even do their first stroke until well past the flags. Maybe I could actually, streamline and kick under water for a bit before starting to swim. It's faster even if it messes up my breathing.
I tried that this morning and did 20 strokes on my first lap. On the way back, 21 (remember the current). I kept refining it and could consistently do 18 both ways after a bit of effort. I was more out of breath because I wasn't getting my first breath for longer but I think it was worth it.
There really was only one test I could do to see if it was helping. Time myself. Off the wall, streamline, swim, bad turn, streamline, then swim, hit the wall and look up at the pace clock. THIRTY-SIX SECONDS! That's almost as fast as Chopstick and 2 seconds faster than my previous timed swim!
I need to bring Bill some flowers or something to thank him for the second best advice he's given me. Wow, 18 strokes, 36 seconds. I am finally getting there.