How to Swim Faster and more Efficiently
by optimising your Stroke Rate using the
Finis Tempo Trainer Pro
One of the key components to swimming your best front crawl is the number of strokes you take in a minute, how fast your turn your arms over – your stroke rate. But how do you know how fast your stroke rate is and how can you tell what’s just right for you? The great news is that by optimising your stroke rate you can swim faster and more efficiently overnight!
You can use this simple, but incredibly effective piece of kit to easily test different stroke rates to find out the best stroke rate for you. You can then unlock your “Optimal Stroke Rate” which will get you swimming faster and more efficiently at all distances.
This powerful little training tool fits onto your goggles or can easily be tucked into your swim hat. It’s fully waterproof and floats so you won’t lose it in the pool or the open water. It gives an audible beep to help you pace your swim stroke.
The Finis Tempo Trainer Pro is highly recommended by leading swim coaches. It is a great way to boost your 2019 training, achieve your swim goals and hit those New Year sessions with a bang! It is currently on a special offer on Amazon – link here.
What you get…
The Finis Tempo Trainer Pro has 3 settings.
Mode 3 – “Stroke Rate” prompts you when to enter your hand into the water.
Mode 2 – lap interval – programmable to triple beep every xx seconds to coincide with your target time per length of a 25m or 50m pool (between 1 sec and 10 minutes)
Mode 1 – similar to mode 2 but finely adjustable to 1/100th sec per 25m
Full details available from Finis here…
This is how I have used my Finis Tempo Trainer Pro to improve my 100m interval times from 1:45 to 1:30.
- I used mode 1 to “Beat the beeper!”. On longer, steady swims and intervals I set the tempo trainer to triple beep once every lap based on my time for 25m then I looked to shave a tenth or two of a second off each week for steady, consistent progress. It requires good concentration to get there in time to “beat the beep”. If you drop behind don’t sprint just increase your effort and focus on good form to try to gradually get back on schedule over the next few laps.
- I used mode 3 to manage and vary my stroke rate. Remember that’s the number of strokes you take per minute (not to be confused with stroke length – the number of strokes per length of the pool).
- My stroke rate was too slow! I was subconsciously taking it easy and settling into a comfortable 50 – 55 strokes per minute. I needed to up my tempo and gradually increase my stroke rate to 60 strokes per minute.
By using a combination of mode 1 and 3, I have eventually shaved 15 seconds per 100m off my splits.
You too may find that, like me, you are currently swimming with a relatively low stroke rate and that your speed and efficiency would improve by increasing your stroke rate and turning your arms over faster. There will probably be a trade-off in that just as when you run faster you will find it harder and be more out of breath, so you may find the higher stroke rate a little more challenging to start with. At some point there will be a ‘sweet spot’ where the improved stroke rate is sustainable with some increased effort and gives you a faster lap, but does not feel so hard that you can’t sustain it or that your technique suffers.
Alternatively you may be “windmilling” your arms with too high a stroke rate. In doing so you might be not making the most of each arm pull and swimming inefficiently. As such you may benefit from adjusting the tempo trainer to a slightly slower stroke rate to see if you can swim with more power and efficiency.
This is where the Swim Smooth ramp test is so useful, however you can experiment without doing a full ramp test, just tweak the stroke rate up or down a little to find your “optimal rate”. Here’s a link to the Swim Smooth ramp test protocol.
Here’s the BONUS! If you are a triathlete, runner or cyclist you can also use your tempo trainer to help you hit that optimal cadence and even smash those KOMs!
When you cycle you may have tried riding at different cadences. You may have noticed that it’s easy to let your cadence slip especially longer into a ride or when climbing hills. You can use the Finis Tempo Trainer Pro to practice holding the correct cadence on the turbo trainer or as you ride a particular hill, especially if it’s the one where you’ve been looking to move up the Strava league table or hit a PR or even challenge for the KOM!
Similarly when running you can use the tempo trainer to practice running at a particular cadence. This is particular useful in technique or track sessions where you can see what difference a higher cadence makes to your run speed and efficiency. 180 foot strikes per minute is held to be the ‘gold standard’ for runners and whilst one-size doesn’t always fit all, there are definitely benefits to be had from running with a fast cadence and being able to increase your ‘turn-over’.
The amazon reviews highlight a possible problem with durability but having canvassed opinion within our tri club of over 100 members there was a general consensus that if you look after it the tempo trainer will last well. Particular care should be taken removing it from your swim hat in the shower as this is when they could be dropped onto a hard tiled floor – not to be recommended for any electronic device! You should also remember to take care when replacing the battery to ensure that the waterproof case is refitted tightly to maintain waterproofing.
In summary the Finis tempo trainer is a great piece of kit. You can buy it on special offer through amazon using the link below, with the discount it’s a great deal on a must have training tool for swimmers and triathletes. Enjoy your swimming and let me know how you get on!
If you liked this blog please like and subscribe and check out some of my other pages and reviews.
Here I show you how to master a 30 minute non-stop front crawl swim.
Here I review the Garmin Fenix 3 HR which is the watch I’ve been using for the last two years and for nearly 10,000 miles of swim, bike and run. I love how well it tracks my open water swims.