Don’t read this post if you want any useful information. Please don’t read it at all. If you don't read this, you won’t learn anything about stroke length and rate. (S)peed = Stroke (L)ength x Stroke (R)ate – (D)rag. Oh damn. Oops, we just might have summed up this whole topic in the previous sentence. What now?
How to explain this super complicated aspect of swimming? Well, we were quite stumped as to how to go about it, because how can you explain math in the water? But then we came up with a brilliant idea. What if we were explaining this to runners? So here it goes. If you are jogging on the spot, your legs are moving but you aren’t going anywhere, duh. Still with us? This is cadence in running and stroke rate in swimming. Easy.
To run implies movement. Forward movement requires taking steps. The bigger the steps, the further you move per step. This is stride length or stroke length. Wow, this is really easy. The faster you move your legs and the bigger the steps, the faster you run. Same in swimming, the faster you move your arms and the longer your stroke, the faster you swim.
But this doesn’t explain how to put it into practise. We thought it was obvious, but hey, not everyone is our smart. So, I guess we have to mention that you can’t sprint all the time! Sprinting taxes the body, physically, mentally and neurologically, so that a top speed cannot be maintained indefinitely.
So what now? There has to be a balance, like everything in life. The equation must be balanced. Stroke length and rate need to be adjusted to the required swimming speed. Assuming you move the same distance with each stroke, swimming easy means a slower stroke rate. How do we know we are doing this? By counting our strokes and adjusting them accordingly per lane. Copy paste this formula to any speed you want to swim.
We told you not to read this blog as it wouldn’t be helpful at all. It isn’t, but if you got this far all we can say is, come on down to the pool and figure it out yourself. See for yourself and learn all there is to know about stroke length and rate.
Disclaimer: We might have failed to mention that stroke length diminishes with fatigue, so take short breaks at regular intervals to fill up your energy tanks (physical, mental and neurological.