What is a SWOLF score?
What is a SWOLF score?
Today we chat about your swim stroke and what you should be focusing on if you want to improve your triathlon swim.
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Welcome on to the next edition of TRI with Coach Parry. My name is Brad, we've got our triathlon coach Rudolf Naude with us once again and today we're talking about swim stroke. And in particular if we should be worrying about counting strokes, and how do we improve stroke rates and all of those sorts of things. So, Rudolf, welcome on to the video. Once again, nice to catch up.
Hi there Brad, thanks for having me, again,
Rudolf, stroke rate. We've obviously spoken at length about sort of correcting stroke and getting the technique right, but how important is stroke rate in triathlon training.
So in triathlon training stroke rate that is basically a guideline for you to see if you are shortening your stroke while you swimming. And if you get tired, so for example, let's say you're doing an 800 metre straight, you can take your circuits count how many strokes you take for the first length, and then let's say, after 40 metres, you take count again. And then the last thing comes again. And then you can see if you're shortening your stroke, so it's a nice thing to count how efficiently you're still swimming in your stroke.
So, for example, if you swim in a 50 metre pool, and you take 40 strokes on the first length, 42 halfway through the 800, but you take 46 towards the end, you're giving the same amount, you're giving more strokes for the same amount of length, that means it's more energy that you are wasting when you swim. So my advice is, yes, you focus on counting your strokes, but not every length, as you do 3-4k swim sets, that is quite a few lengths that you are count your stroke rate.
So my advice would be in the beginning of your set, count your stroke rate and then towards the end of a set count it again and see where you are increasing or decreasing it, obviously, the less strokes you take, the less energy you take, and the faster you'll swim. But then on the other side of the coin is also you can take less strokes by gliding more in the front, but you swim slower. So it's a combination of swimming fast with the least amount of strokes. So those two go hand in hand. And I know a lot of smart watches, Garmin and all of them, got something called SWOLF, which is swimming golf, which is your stroke, the amount of strokes you take plus the amount of time that you take. So towards a session, the lower your SWOLF is, the better it will be in general for swimming.
Rudolf, can you touch on the SWOLF score? I've seen it around as one and I've got a Garmin and I've seen it, but I'm not 100% sure how, what it is and how it works and funnily enough, that was a follow up question in the forum as well with regards to stroke rate. Is it something we should be trying to improve? Obviously, I mean, you said it's S golf or SWOLF and with golf, you want to try and get your score as low as possible. Is it the same with this when it comes to your stroke rate?
Yes, it is the same principle is your SWOLF score is the amount of strokes you take plus the time that you take. So the lower the score, the better it is, either that you are increasing in speed, which means you're going faster, or that your stroke rate is going slower. So there's two sides of that coin, is either your stroke rate is going lower, which means it lowers your SWOLF score, or you're swimming faster with the same stroke rate, which also means your SWOLF score's going lower.
So my personal advice is I don't really look at my SWOLF towards the end of the swim, I just do the counting in the beginning of a set. If for example, if your main set is 10x300s for the day, count you stroke for the first 300, the 5th 300 and then seven, eight and nine also count it there and then see what your stroke rate is. And also you can feel when you're starting to shorten your stroke rate towards the end of the stroke. So it's a bit of a combination. It's a nice tool to have to analyse between these swim, especially if you're in a phase where you're focusing on correcting your stroke or increasing the efficiency of the stroke, then you can compare days but then also do the same set over and over again to make the data more reliable.
Yeah, and it's quite interesting the way you described it. Because obviously, if you increase your stroke rate, as in putting in more strokes per length, obviously that's going to decrease your, not necessarily, it might help you swim faster, which will decrease your your SWOLF score, or it's a case of producing more power out in the water basically, so you're swimming faster, but using less strokes. Which is better? Is it a case of increasing their stroke rate? Or is it a case of trying to build that power in your swim stroke.
It's just like running and cycling cadence as well. A higher cadence versus slower cadence. It is a difficult thing to say, it also depends especially with swimming open water also, what the or the lake is doing what the chop is doing. So you need to be able to adjust your stroke. If it's a choppy swell, or if it's like a dam or something, you can have a nice longer swim stroke. But if it's a very choppy swim then a shorter stroke will be more efficient. So you kind of have to play around with it. I know if you want to increase your stroke rate normally swim just with fins, so that will increase your stroke rate. And if you want to have more powerful strokes, put on paddles and practice on pulling as that will simulate overgear work on the bike.
Awesome. As always, great to catch up. If you want to improve your swim stroke we've got a couple of swim drills that we've put together that you can download for free here on coachparry.com all you need to do is head over to this URL. Okay, it's coachparry.com/swim. That's where you will get the swim strokes. You can download it there right now and use it and hopefully it will improve your performance as well. As always great to catch up. Thanks for your time today on TRI with Coach Parry.
Thanks, Brad. Thanks for having me.