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Swim Cadence

OK, so I've been thinking about this for a while and my inquisitive mind can't let it go as I haven't found a decent answer...

For cycling and running the magic number for cadence is 90. It's all about a quick fluid pace. We're told to stay away from powering it, especially on the bike - no big gears and burning quads.

But on the swim it's all about less strokes, longer strokes, and more power. Now I know we're talking about water instead of air, but as the medium we're moving through is thicker, you'd think the princliples apply even more. If we shouldn't use a high gear and lots of leg power on the bike, why do we do the equivalent in the swim? Is it just because we will hardly use our upper bodies for the rest of the race? (relatively speaking)

I did read a recent article in 220 about lengthening running stride, but it still talked about keeping a high cadence.

It will probably need someone with a degree in sports science, physics and biology to really explain this, but anyone want to give it a shot?


  • ashthetashashthetash Posts: 164
    Swimming isn't really my strong point but I have been working on it recently. My understanding is that technique is the most important aspect of the swim. Because of the dense medium it is important to stay as hydrodynamic as possible. This comes from having a good in water profile and an efficient stroke. Ideally this will be combined with a quick cadence (stroke speed) however most people have a tendency to lose "form" as they build their stroke speed. This happens in two ways:

    Less efficient propulsion due to slipping more water.

    Increased drag due to less hydrodynamic profile.

    If you can increase your stroke speed (?cadence) without affecting your spl (strokes per length) then you will swim faster. If you have to sacrifice spl to swim faster then you have to ask if it is worth the effort.

    As with all these things there is no absolute answer, it comes down to personal choice.
  • Swimming is all about technique as ash has said. definitely concentrate on streamlining in the water. try to get your feet as close to the surface as possible to decrease drag. really practise adding power in the push and always push to the hip before the recovery. your stroke should be relaxed in the recovery and powerful in the pull/push.
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