Zoom 1 talked about your ape index. Whats yours? It’s the difference between your wingspan and height. Michael Phelps has a plus 12cm ape index. It’s the sort of biomechanical analysis talent scouts would look at when assessing which kids might be physically better at some sports more than others. So what does it mean for you?
Well… if you have a positive ape index you have more choices when it comes to your stroke rate. Your levers can generate more leverage in proportion to your height and therefore will take longer to complete one rotation, resulting in a lower stroke rate (SR). If its negative then the reverse is true and you would have a higher stroke rate.
Finding the right stroke rate for you can be done with a stop watch and a tempo trainer set to beep at varying stroke rates. It is a fun test to do and can vary wildly depending on your swimming ability. Without a pool to play in there is little we can do to calculate this right now but if you have a beeper (FINIS tempo trainer pro) then take it for a swim with you in the ocean and play.
If you have no idea what you stroke rate is start with your beeper on mode 3, on 60. Swim for a bit – it will be too hard, too easy or very comfortable. Then take it up or down 3 (down if you were really struggling, otherwise go up). Notice the difference. Keep playing with different rates until you reach the point you can go no more. Then go back to where you started and see if it feels different.
Your goal is to have a stroke rate above 60 – that’s all of you!!! No excuses. With a positive ape index you can go where you want up from 60. Negative index getting above 70 is ideal. If you are the same height to width then you will end up with a SR faster than a positive ape and slower than a negative. Yes this is ambiguous, we are all so different and there are so many factors that can vary.
My optimum is 68, cruising and being lazy it’s a snoozy 62. I have a plus 3 ape index. Ian Thorpe has a SR of 86. Changing your rate can take some time.. If your goal rate is 72 but you are currently comfortable at 66 then I would suggest you swim at 66 for a bit then 68 then 70 before coming back to 68, where it will feel more comfortable than 70. Then try 67,69, 71 etc, working you way up over time.
It’s just a thought for now to have fun with!