Monday, October 08, 2007

Swim Drafting & Rocket Science

Walking onto the beach, for the Endure Group Open Water swim, I was first shocked by how the weather has changed and that for the first time this season, the sand was cool under the feet. But more to my dismay I watched Coach Max swim towards Egypt towing the buoys to mark the swim course this morning.

I am the first to admit that my swimming is my weakest leg of training and since I have trouble getting to the pool for training due to the conflict with work hours. My training has been limited to only Open Water Swimming Sessions. So the dread of black lane fever is not a problem I suffer from, more the curse of the managing to maintain a straight course from Buoy A to B, as opposed to my normal course which I describe as pretzel course.

Max assembled us on the beach and once again, like last week we were going to delve into the realm of "Drafting". At this point I would add that Rocket Science is simpler try reading this background paper which I found on Google -

http://www.coachesinfo.com/article/329/

Now that the science has been proven, how would this affect me.

What the science does not explain is how to avoid being hit in the face by another swimmer coming at you from the other direction, how every time I lost the bubbles of the feet in front of me I felt no real difference for the first ten sets of the workout.

But if there is one thing I have learnt is, to have faith in your coach and on the final solo lap I for the first time kept up with the feet in front of me and for one minute I actually felt the effects of drafting. It made me swim a little harder than I was used too but at the same time the water ... well it felt a little easier.

Our last sets saw us swim together as a pack, ala Tri racing and yes again tucking into the washing machine, perhaps this drafting thing is not rocket science. But then again contact swimming is a swim not for the feint hearted.

If you get have given up trying to read the article about drafting here is the conclusion -

The present study indicated that the optimal drafting swimming distance was at 0 or 50 cm behind a leader reducing by 11–38% the metabolic response of the draftee. At the 100- and 150-cm distances, the gain was still important with reductions in the metabolic responses of between 8% and 31%. In lateral drafting at 100 cm beside another swimmer, the optimal distance was at 50 and 100 cm behind, when drafter’s head was approximately at hip level of the leader. The drag benefit was only a third of that when drafting directly behind the lead
swimmer. Drafting was always behind or lateral to a passively towed lead swimmer. Further investigation is required to determine
whether the benefits of drafting behind or beside a streamlined lead swimmer are likely to be a conservative estimate of the benefit from drafting behind an active stroking and kicking lead swimmer.

9 comments:

21stCenturyMom said...

I wish I were better at drafing - I just can't even seem to stick with the bubbles. Either I start poking the person in the foot or they swim away or I head off in another direction. I'm going to try harder now that I have science on my side ;-) Thanks for the lesson.

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