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Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming
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Hi Everyone,

I have a cycling injury and as a result, can't run or bike, so I have taken up swimming. There seems to be a different philosophy about exerting effort in swimming and cycling and wanted to get your insights.

As I read more about swimming technique, it is all about getting the most bang for the buck with each stroke. For example, you reach to have your hand enter the water as far forward as you can, you do the 'catch' to start pushing the water straight back as soon as your hand enters, and you have your hand exit as far back as you can. It is about pushing the most amount of water at one time.

This all seems logical, but also seems opposite of what is is taught in cycling. In cycling it is NOT about getting the most bang for the buck of each crank arm stroke, but splitting up the load (having more crank arm strokes break up the load).

To be consistent, it would seem that either:
a) You should spin on your bike, and 'spin' swimming - i.e. purposefully being inefficient to keep your arms moving faster to break up the load, or
b) You should grind in a high hear on your bike, and try to push as much water as possible when swimming

Can someone help me understand why there is one philosophy with one and another with the other?

Thanks!
Michael
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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Increasing cadence on a bike at a given speed is not decreasing efficiency. To a tiny extent it can increase drivetrain friction per unit output, but it is negligible. The mechanical design of the system dictates mechanical efficiency.

Swimming is different. You do not have a mechanism that locks you in to the perfect stroke. You must develop the right technique, which is the one that provides you the most propulsive force, with the lowest drag, per unit of metabolic energy used. And unlike on a bike, you have only one gear. So the first order of business is to get that efficient stroke. Then, you increase cadence by increasing effort and you go faster.

Swimming with bad technique in order to increase your turnover will make you go a lot slower at the same effort level. This is not true when going to a lower gear on the bike.

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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [RowToTri] [ In reply to ]
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to complete the explanation....

We have a very small "effective" torque band on the bike, and a very wide range of required speeds do to hills, winds, etc. 25 rpm and 200 in-lbs of torque isn't going to work for 100 miles (or probably even 10 for most humans). Neither is 200 rpm, and 25 in-lbs.
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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A quick question come to mind: What swim stroke rate (cadence) do you consider "spinning"? 60 spm, 80 spm, 100 spm?

But that aside, the question that you're asking actually has quite a bit of nuance. First off we never want to purposely be inefficient in swimming. If we take 15-strokes to get across the pool at 60 strokes-per-minute (spm), but that number drops to 18 when we increase our stroke rate to 80 spm, then there may be a problem (and that would depend on whether we were commensurately faster at that higher stroke rate).

The other issue is the difference between going very deep in the pull versus going a bit more shallow. To the swimmer, a deep pull will feels like the equivalent of sitting in a big gear on the bike -- apply the most force to the water. That deep pull will also make it harder to have a higher stroke rate (as the big gear makes it harder to have a higher cadence), but unlike the bike, there is a drag penalty associated with it. This is nullified if the pull is slightly shallower with slightly more bend in the elbow. So the shallower pull will not only give you the chance at a higher stroke rate, it will likely also maintain the stroke distance that you have with the deep pull, but at a far lower tax on the muscles.

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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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Swimming is first and foremost about getting "traction" i.e. maximizing the amount of force you can apply without your hands moving backwards through the water. At a basic level, a high turnover/cadence signifies that you are slipping your hands through the water and not getting forward motion out of that wasted energy.

It is true that many good competitive swimmers will make slight adjustments in turnover/cadence and purposely sacrifice a bit of power in the weaker parts of the stroke to up cadence. This higher cadence technique is used in sprint races where over the course of short race more time in the "sweet spot" of the stroke where the most power can be generated trumps efficiency. The great swimmers can have their cake and eat it too since many are so good and strong they can sprint with a more normal stroke. They have a higher cadence but that is directly related to speed, like on a fixed gear bike, rather than some difference in technique.

You do often see bad swimmers instinctively trying to do this shortened stroke/higher cadence thing but when done to compensate for lack of proper technique it is a flaw, not a tactic.

In cycling is completely different. It is a given that all your power is going to go into the pedals. Then it just becomes an issue of gearing so you can match your cadence to where your body is most efficient at generating power or for tactical situations where you might want a certain cadence in order to be able to accelerate quickly if needed.
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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There is a strand of swimmers and coaches that advocate the longest stroke least strokes per length as the route to fastest swimming. However there are very successful swimmers who have a low stroke cadence and very good ones with a high cadence. One can have good technique with high cadence. Catching very soon after your hand reaches forward is important in either case. The swim smooth coaches explain this well and tend to advocate more of a higher cadence approach.

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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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stroke rate has a lot to do with height.
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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NordicSkier wrote:
stroke rate has a lot to do with height.

I am literally choking on immature replies to this.

To keep it on point, high RPM swimming wears me out and I don't go any faster.

https://reluctantmultisport.wordpress.com
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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check this article:
http://www.triathlete.com/...l-stroke-rate_120831
also more distance per stroke does not necessarily mean better (faster) as well as higher cadence on the bike. optimal rate can be pretty individual

Check my blog
http://myirondiary.com
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [STP] [ In reply to ]
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STP wrote:
Swimming is first and foremost about getting "traction" i.e. maximizing the amount of force you can apply without your hands moving backwards through the water. At a basic level, a high turnover/cadence signifies that you are slipping your hands through the water and not getting forward motion out of that wasted energy.

To be a bit more precise, you want to maximize the force applied opposite the direction you wish to go. Putting a lot of force into a sideways motion (the old "s-stroke") is wasting energy.

Also, the force generated is integrated over the time spent. So if you slip your hands through the water at a point in the stroke in which the propulsive force is minimal (think at the end of the pull), thereby not getting forward motion, but this allows you to return to the maximal propulsive force portion of the stroke more quickly, you *can* increase the effective force applied over time. Same applies if your stroke is a little less effective but you get more of them.

If the effectiveness of the rest of your pull is high, then slipping when using a high turnover can make you faster. In addition, the maximal torque applied during the stroke may be lessened, and some people (like me) can go faster and longer with lower torque and higher cadence (both in the water and on the bike). There's a reason why nearly all the bike hour records were set at around the same 100+ cadence (http://www.wolfgang-menn.de/hourrec.htm).

Each swimmer needs to find their own sweet spot.

----------------------------------
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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Quote:
There's a reason why nearly all the bike hour records were set at around the same 100+ cadence (http://www.wolfgang-menn.de/hourrec.htm).
Yes... the reason is they are on a single speed bike.
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [sp1ke] [ In reply to ]
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sp1ke wrote:
Quote:
There's a reason why nearly all the bike hour records were set at around the same 100+ cadence (http://www.wolfgang-menn.de/hourrec.htm).

Yes... the reason is they are on a single speed bike.

Except they could each have chosen different gearing to allow for a different cadence...but they didn't. With only a couple of exceptions (which were around 90 cadence), they all chose that single speed (better known as a fixed gear, but I digress) that put them between 100 and 105. So your comment doesn't fly.

----------------------------------
"i disagree with your analysis [or judgment], nevertheless you have the responsibility of moderating this board so i honor your authority to make the moderating decisions."
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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Mrobrien wrote:
Hi Everyone,

I have a cycling injury and as a result, can't run or bike, so I have taken up swimming. There seems to be a different philosophy about exerting effort in swimming and cycling and wanted to get your insights.

As I read more about swimming technique, it is all about getting the most bang for the buck with each stroke. For example, you reach to have your hand enter the water as far forward as you can, you do the 'catch' to start pushing the water straight back as soon as your hand enters, and you have your hand exit as far back as you can. It is about pushing the most amount of water at one time.

This all seems logical, but also seems opposite of what is is taught in cycling. In cycling it is NOT about getting the most bang for the buck of each crank arm stroke, but splitting up the load (having more crank arm strokes break up the load).

To be consistent, it would seem that either:
a) You should spin on your bike, and 'spin' swimming - i.e. purposefully being inefficient to keep your arms moving faster to break up the load, or
b) You should grind in a high hear on your bike, and try to push as much water as possible when swimming

Can someone help me understand why there is one philosophy with one and another with the other?

Thanks!
Michael



no it s not

cadence (turnover) in swimming very important, but it s not as important on the bike as you have a system of gear that allow a variety of cadence while producing exact same power and resultant speed.

swimming isnt about getting the most of each stroke as you seems to understand it... it s still very much about splitting the load.... swimming is about how to get from a to b the fastest possible with some integrity of a stroke and a high turnover.

Jonathan Caron

Jonnyo Coaching
Last edited by: jonnyo: Oct 13, 17 5:33
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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Quote:
If the effectiveness of the rest of your pull is high, then slipping when using a high turnover can make you faster. In addition, the maximal torque applied during the stroke may be lessened, and some people (like me) can go faster and longer with lower torque and higher cadence (both in the water and on the bike). There's a reason why nearly all the bike hour records were set at around the same 100+ cadence (http://www.wolfgang-menn.de/hourrec.htm).
Each swimmer needs to find their own sweet spot.

The swimming part of that quote is is very true (not sure about the hour record comment . . ).

However, "finding your own sweet spot" in the pool only applies once you get decent enough swimming technique and feel for the water such that you can actually have some control over how much you let your pull slip during the precise parts of the pull you have selected and doing it based on specific choices you have made in advance. Stroke/turnover tricks intentionally used by guys going sub 45 100s are a lot different than blindly spinning away simply because you can't get and hold a good catch for the entire stroke. That is why beginners are coached to work on long strokes. The intentional shortening up for specific tactical situations comes later.

An hour record holder carefully chooses his gearing and may decide to spin at 100 rpm. A rank amateur randomly picking whatever gear is laying around and spinning at 100 rpm is not the same thing even if the cadence is the same. To analogize cycling to swimming, you have to be able to spin with good power at 80 or 120 and everywhere in between before you can really pick your best cadence.
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [coachjustin] [ In reply to ]
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Wow! Thanks to everyone for your replies. I had no idea this message would get such a big response, but I learned a lot.

And CoachJustin, your comment on going deep vs shallow with the stroke was very helping as I am still perfecting my stroke.

Thank you!!!
Michael
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [trivadim] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks so much for the link - very helpful!

This is my first interaction with the triathlon community and wow - I am so amazed at your helpfulness. Since I already run and bike, I think I should definitely aim to do a few races next year. My original reason for wanting to do this would be the challenge, after this short exposure to the community, I think it would be good just to start meeting the people too. What a great bunch. Thanks again.
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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Mrobrien wrote:
Wow! Thanks to everyone for your replies. I had no idea this message would get such a big response, but I learned a lot.
And CoachJustin, your comment on going deep vs shallow with the stroke was very helping as I am still perfecting my stroke.
Thank you!!!
Michael

I'm guessing your name is Michael O'Brien??? Assuming so, you might be interested to know that your namesake Mike O'Brien won the gold in the 1500 free at the '84 Oly in 15:05. Just thought you might like to know that you're already famous in the swimming world. :)


"Anyone can be who they want to be IF they have the HUNGER and the DRIVE."
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [STP] [ In reply to ]
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This is a very good thread to compare the two sports and differences.

The appreciation of my stroke form & cadence changed a lot after using the forearm paddles. I'll put that into words as best I can:

- Forearm motion became the priority and I starting moving my body around the movement of my forearms
- The travel or swept path of my arms increased a lot. Engaging slightly different muscle groups
- There is less force applied, but more constant. It is easier to stroke but I am swimming faster
- If I up cadence for cadence sake, increase grunt or break "form" it's pretty much wasted energy and effort.

I think getting that swept path as long and efficient as possible (distance per stroke) before any increase in cadence is key. At that point I think a swimmer will feel when they start to "fall off" the optimum stroke and beating up the water as our coach says.

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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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The original post reveals some misunderstandings about swimming. First and foremost, that higher cadence in swimming is not good or not the goal. For most adult onset, open water, distance swimmers, raising the stroke rate is going to pay better dividends than increasing the distance per stroke.

Getting the hands deep, fast. Upping the stroke rate. Kick timing. Breath timing. Don't worry about "finishing" or distance per stoke so much. Put every change you make to the pace clock. These are some primary things to work on.

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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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Cycling may teach high cadence but not everyone agrees it is the best approach for long course triathlon. Here is the argument for low cadence in Ironman.

http://trisutto.com/the-great-cadence-debate/


http://trisutto.com/cadence-debate-continued/
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Mrobrien] [ In reply to ]
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you want the same in cycling

e.g. take cad at 90 rpms. WHAT ARE YOURS GEARS set at.

if you do 90 rpms with a set up of 15 teeth rear cog and 54 teeth chainring you get 94.1 cm per pedal stroke so you go pretty dam fast.

If you do 90 rpms with a set up of 22 teeth in the back and 49 teeth chainring you get 51 cm per pedal stroke so you speed is almost half.

Even though the rpms are the same.

IN the pool you only get your arms no cogs and rings to play with so you have to get the most distance out of each stoke.

We all take about 60 strokes per minutes so if you only get 50 cm per stroke vs 100 cm per stroke you are twice as slow.

even if a swimmer with the skill to only move 50 cm per stroke could increase there rpms to 90 per minute they would still slower then the 100 cm and would have so little time to relax and get forward distance as they are always breathing rather then swimming due to an increase breathing work due to the number of muscle loadings per minute, speed of recovery needed

basically.....

Technique will always last longer then energy production. Improve biomechanics, improve performance.
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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klehner wrote:
STP wrote:
Swimming is first and foremost about getting "traction" i.e. maximizing the amount of force you can apply without your hands moving backwards through the water. At a basic level, a high turnover/cadence signifies that you are slipping your hands through the water and not getting forward motion out of that wasted energy.


To be a bit more precise, you want to maximize the force applied opposite the direction you wish to go. Putting a lot of force into a sideways motion (the old "s-stroke") is wasting energy.

Also, the force generated is integrated over the time spent. So if you slip your hands through the water at a point in the stroke in which the propulsive force is minimal (think at the end of the pull), thereby not getting forward motion, but this allows you to return to the maximal propulsive force portion of the stroke more quickly, you *can* increase the effective force applied over time. Same applies if your stroke is a little less effective but you get more of them.

If the effectiveness of the rest of your pull is high, then slipping when using a high turnover can make you faster. In addition, the maximal torque applied during the stroke may be lessened, and some people (like me) can go faster and longer with lower torque and higher cadence (both in the water and on the bike). There's a reason why nearly all the bike hour records were set at around the same 100+ cadence (http://www.wolfgang-menn.de/hourrec.htm).

Each swimmer needs to find their own sweet spot.

The old S stroke is not applying forces sideways unless you angle your hands in a direction to create vector forces in that direction.
Swimmers who lack a grip on the water often simply do not have enough sideways motion and too much backward motion which is very heavily drag dominated and very inefficient.
Paddle wheels are not as efficient as propellers.
The S stroke is the propeller motion.
Moving your limbs sideways to the direction of motion is exactly what a propeller does, they don't move backwards as once the water surrounding them starts to move back there is nothing left to push against. You need fresh water to push against at all times.
Try treading water with your arms by pushing downwards with your hands and not moving sideways in a sculling motion and you will quickly discover how people who cannot swim drown.
That sideways motion is exactly what the S stroke is, 3 sculling actions joined as efficiently as possible together to create a single stroke.
Even a huge blade used by a kayaker is not pulled backwards, is is put in close to the boat and moves outward until it is exited. At no time during the stroke does it slip backward in the water, it sculls sideways and to an extent downwards at the beginning of the stroke, just like a swimmer.

During sprinting the drag component may increase, just like an aeroplane coming into land.
When landing, an aeroplane's wings which have been optimised for efficient 'in flight' use do not offer enough lift at slow landing speeds so the plane is flown nose up to create extra lift at the sacrifice of a huge increase of drag.
You can do this with your hands by angling them more and sprinters do this if their grip on the water is not enough to support their power.
So at that point you have a choice, move your arms faster to create more grip or angle your hands inefficiently to create more grip.
Moving the limbs faster by increasing turnover is more efficient than angling hands that create more drag.
This is nothing to do with a poor swimmer moving their arms faster because they lack any reasonable purchase on the water and everything to do with the best swimmers trying to find an efficient way to get huge amounts of power down.

If you consider limb/hand speed, which is akind to cycling cadence, then you will see that what you think are swimmers with slow turnovers are actually swimmers with very high limb speed due to a lot of sideways movement (or long arms), just the same as a cyclist using a longer crank and having higher foot speed at the same cadence as a shorter crank with a higher cadence.
It is the limb speed that creates the support for the power supplied and everybody has their own way of achieving that.
Those with larger hands can get enough support at lower hand speeds, those with smaller hands and similar power output need higher hand speed.
So depending on your makeup, your stroke will have to take into consideration how much limb speed is required for the amount of power you have to get transferred into body motion and some folks stroke rate will vary wildly to others because of their power output, limb dimensions, weight to be accelerated and body drag which are all individual.
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Re: Why a high cadence cycling but low "cadence" when swimming [Triathletetoth] [ In reply to ]
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Something that the co-founder of Finding Freestyle wrote some time ago.

....I stumbled upon an old study recently that outfitted trained competitive swimmers and novice swimmers with “sensor gloves” that measured the amount of force they were applying against the water at each point along the path that their hand flowed during the underwater portion of the pull
(Takagi, 2002: http://www.taiiku.tsukuba.ac.jp/...ocument/ISEA2002.pdf). The results are shown in figures 1 and 2. To me, this says that the accomplished swimmers generate similar amounts of forces, and perhaps overall LESS force during the stroke, but concentrated in a narrow part of the stroke where there force is at its highest. As it turns out....


https://athleticalgorithm.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/more-power-the-fat-part-of-the-pull/



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