I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to maintain my stroke length at the workout today since I knew I was going to have to do longer repetitions.
I got to the workout in time to do my warmup and I did 2 X 100 meters. I think I did the first at 1.40 seconds per stroke and the second at 1.39 seconds per stroke. I think I took about 45 strokes per length (The truth is that I don't really remember how many strokes per length I took. I might have swum some at 42 strokes per length). Then it was time to start the workout.
The first set was 2 X 200 meters with the second set faster than the first. I think I swam the first at 1.38 seconds per stroke and the second at 1.37 per stroke. But, I was definitely struggling by the end of each repetition. I was at 48 strokes per length.
Next we did a catchup drill of 6 X 50 meters where we swam the catchup halfway (25m) and then full swim for the next half. I swam that at 1.38 seconds per stroke, but I did not count my strokes. I had to concentrate on the catchup part of the drill.
The third set was 4 X 100 meters with the goal being to maintain the same time for each repeat. I can't see the pace clocks (I'll make sure to bring my watch to the workouts from now on) so I just had to count my strokes. My stroke length definitely decreased through each 100 meter repetition.
Our final set was 6 X 50 meters swimming slow - medium - fast - fast - medium - slow. As I had been getting more oxygen deprived through the workout, I figured I was going to have to do something different on this set. So, I figured I would breathe every two strokes to one side going down and breathe every two strokes to the other side coming back. I discovered that breathing every two strokes was too frequent and quickly adjusted the pattern to alternating breathing every three strokes and every two strokes. Using the new breath pattern felt like somebody had just waved a magic wand over me! Instead of peaking at the third and fourth repetitions, I just kept increasing the stroke rate (decreasing the seconds per stroke) throughout. By the sixth repetition I had the stroke rate set at 1.30 seconds per stroke and that was too slow! That last repetition was surely the fastest repetition of the entire workout and I completed the length in 45 strokes (I also don't really remember how many strokes it took me. I don't think it was as low as 42, but it was definitely not more than 45).
I've spent so many workouts fretting over how out of breath I have been feeling. The solution was right there in front of me all the time: breath more frequently. Once I started getting enough oxygen it was no problem to pick up the stroke rate while maintaining my stroke length, all the while feeling great in the water!
Going to this Masters practice was just what I needed to knock me out of my limited thinking. On account of having to find a way to survive, I came up with a new option. Whereas I was really not enjoying my latest swim workouts, I once again can't wait to get back to the pool tomorrow. I'm so curious to see what stroke rate I can maintain now and what my times will look like. Now I also feel confident to utilize different length repeats.
I'm ready to start anew!
P.S. Assuming I recalled all the sets properly, today's workout totaled 1600 meters. It certainly wasn't any fewer meters than that.