Articles Blog

How To Improve Your Swim Stroke Rate | The Optimum Swimming Cadence For Triathlon

How To Improve Your Swim Stroke Rate | The Optimum Swimming Cadence For Triathlon

– Today, we are looking at stroke rate. That is, how many stokes
you take per minute. You can also count that by how many strokes you do per length as that is a little bit easier to measure. – Too low a stroke rate, and you most likely have some
dead spots in your timing, and equally, too high a stroke rate and that probably means that
you’re shortening your stroke, and you need to think
about lengthening it out. – Well, in this video, we are going to be looking at the optimum stroke rate for triathletes. We’re going to be having
a more detailed look at Fraser and my stroke rate, and then, helping you improve your own. (logo whirs) – Stroke rate is important because it effects the rhythm
and timing of your stroke, and it is directly related
to the distance you take per stroke in the water. – So, if you have a stroke
rate that’s too low, it suggests that you
might well have a glide or a pause between each
stroke, and doing this, you’re going to be losing
momentum in between. You’re basically gonna have to be re-accelerating after
each individual stroke. – And too high a stroke rate indicates you’re probably losing momentum and you’re not getting good propulsion from that catch and pull phase that we’re looking for at
the beginning of the stroke. – So, finding that optimum
stroke rate is key, and it’s a basically a combination
between your stroke rate and your distance per stroke. But it’s worth bearing in mind,
there is no golden number. Every athlete is different. It depends what speed and
distance you’re swimming, and also what the water conditions are. – Now, we are triathletes after all, and that means the bulk
of our swim training is done in the swimming pool, especially in those long winter months. However, the key goal races that we have are most likely gonna be in
the open water environment. – Yeah, now you might not find swimming in a pool particularly easy, but trust me, it is still much easier than that race situation which, like you said,
is normally open water and you’re gonna be surrounded
by lots of other swimmers. – However, sea swims, and in fact, any open water
swim where the mass start creates these really
turbulent swim conditions, and that’s really not good when we’ve got a slow, low stroke rate, because it just means
we lose our propulsion. – Yeah, well obviously today, we don’t have that open water situation, but we’re gonna be getting in the pool and comparing our stroke rates, and then looking at how we can improve. (chilled music) So we’re gonna swim 50 metres that are perceived are my race pace effort and count how many strokes it takes us. – Goggles on! – Here we go. (upbeat music) – Heather’s time for the
50 metres was 37 seconds, and she took 37 strokes to complete that, giving her a stroke rate
of 60 strokes per minute. Mine, however, was slightly higher at 73 strokes per minute. But research has shown that
elite open water swimmers do tend to have a higher stroke rate. Now admittedly, we’re not in
a race environment right now, but that being said, we would hope to see a significantly higher
stroke rate from Heather. So now we need to have a look at how we can improve her number. (energetic pop music) So we’ve got a selection of drills that is gonna help Heather
pick up that stroke rate. – Yeah the first one, I’m
gonna put some fins on because that’s gonna lift me a little bit higher in the water but most importantly, I’m
gonna be travelling faster, and therefore I have to
move my arms naturally that bit faster. – And a second drill that
we’re gonna have a look at is water polo drill which means that you eliminate that glide at the front of the stroke. – Yeah, now this one, I do still have a bit of a
tendency to put that glide in, but I think being able to actually see where your hands are going in, will help to increase your stroke rate. – It makes you think about that as well. – Yeah. – And a final drill that we
would think about doing is surges off the wall where
you really swim quite hard and again that forces you to
increase your stroke rate. – So actually doing a faster
stroke rate than normal so when you do go back
to swimming normally, hopefully, you’ve got a
naturally faster stroke rate than you had before. Well I’ve done the three drills, so I’m interested to see if it’s actually gonna make any difference when I swim my 50 metres. So I’m gonna get back in,
swim at the same pace, and see if I get more
strokes in the length. (chilled music) So it does seem that those
drills have made a difference. I managed 41 strokes for that 50 metres, swimming at the same pace, and yes it did feel like I was
doing a higher stroke rate, but with more practise, it will
start to feel more natural. If you are struggling to
increase your stroke rate and want to be aware
of exactly what it is, then you can actually use a
tool called a tempo trainer that simply sits on your
goggles and it will beep at you every time you want your
hand to enter the water. – And now as triathletes, almost all of us are striving to have an increased stroke rate, ’cause that’s gonna give us that ability to cope with those turbulent conditions that you’re most likely to encounter when you’re in the open water environment. – Yeah and it’s not something you can simply just change overnight, so go away, work on those drills and let us know how you get on. Hope you’ve enjoyed it, hit the thumb up like button if you have, and if you wanna make sure you get all of our videos from GTN, just hit the globe to subscribe, and for a video looking at the difference between pool stroke and open water stroke, you can find that just here. – And for a video about three drills to help improve your front crawl, then you can click here.

21 thoughts on “How To Improve Your Swim Stroke Rate | The Optimum Swimming Cadence For Triathlon”

  1. After doing some quick math, I'm at…
    30ish strokes per 50…
    I guess I know what I have to work on then :p
    (Big power strokes do work wonders for my 50m freestyle races tho, but I guess that´s just a case of the swim speed finally catching up with the stroke lenght, haha)

  2. doggie paddle drill, (basically swim like a dog with the arms “crawling” under water continuously) gets the glide out of the stroke fairly quickly. On a sciensce note, I wonder how much propulsion can be generated on the rear end of the pull. I wonder if the front part of the pull (until the lower rib cage) isn’t generating most propulsion. That would mean that shortening the stroke could be a good strategy, except when you are swimming with elite athletes that all have the high turnover well under control and need the last bit of pull to make the difference?

  3. I find for a more accurate measure of stroke rate is to use a tempo trainer. I find the match the tempo trainer to my css or race pace. In a pool you need to account for the push and dolphin kick off a wall which can take 5meters off the length of the pool and a few seconds you are not stroking. This is important because in open water there is no wall pushing to affect your swim. Taking this into consideration e.g. Heather did an estimated 37 strokes in around 34 seconds thus her stroke rate is around 65-66spm.

  4. Great advices. One pinpoint on using Tempo Trainer for increasing the stroke rate is aim to finish the stroke with every beep. If your are not well experienced like the GTN team, you will most probably have a droped elbow very soon while trying to catch the beeps at the front. Learnt in hard way. :))

  5. I wonder if Swim Smooth are getting upset with GTN releasing better videos for free than the ones they have had hidden behind pay walls

  6. Great video. I once heard having a short stroke that was quick was needed for Triathlon do to the crowded environment we swim in at times. Allows for better swim stroke adjustments. Acceleration, slowing down, fighting through and over crowds, or having someone swim up your back. Any truth to this?

  7. As a poor swimmer I was excited to see this video.  But in a 5 minute long video you spent 40 seconds on the drills without actually explaining how to do the drills.  Dissappointing.

  8. Heather has a relatively deep pull; her left arm especially. The further one reaches and the deeper one’s arm is, the slower the cadence. It’s like grinding a big gear on a bike. Bending your elbow a bit more so your hand doesn’t go so deep will allow a quicker turnover. Also keeping that elbow like 2 inches higher will speed up your cadence. Or you could keep doing what you’re doing but get a lot stronger; that’ll speed it up, too. The mechanics of swim stroke rate vs power are exactly like spinning vs grinding gears on a bike.

  9. Heya. What advice would you give someone who does not have access to a public or gym pool. Basically i only have a pool at home. I use a stretch rope around my ankle and swim in a stationary position.

  10. More strokes for the same speed? That really isn’t a positive outcome. More strokes and a higher speed, yes, but more strokes at the same speed just means you’re expending more energy than you need to.

  11. I'm hitting 28-31 strokes/min, which is half what's being shown in this video. I can't imagine doing twice the strokes but will try the drills.

  12. I assume stroke rate can be reported as the same arm (left, left, left), or alternate arms (left, right, left, right)? My Apple Watch says I have a 28 rate, which based on this video I guess is actually a 56? It seems unlikely I’m that far behind (28 vs 60+ in the video). Anyone got any experience with this? Seems like a couple of other comments have suggested similarly low rates. Or maybe I’m just really slow…!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *