Master What You Measure

Master What You Measure

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Information and Big Data. Metrics and the Cloud.

As the Internet of Things quickly evolve and are integrated into the daily lives of people, we can appreciate how data can be analyzed to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.

As swimmers who train both in the pool and open water, we always compile and internally analyze data:

* Pace in terms of either time per 100 meters or time to swim a mile in the ocean
* Intervals in terms of how fast a particular set can be swum or intervals between feedings
* Distance of each particular set or each workout
* Strokes per minute in the open water and strokes per lap in the pool
* Total cumulative training distance in each energy zone
* Number of sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, squats
* Pace, interval, distance, intensity of pulling sets, kicking sets, hypoxic sets
* Number of threshold sets per training cycle
* Maximum heart rate, weight, BMI
* Water temperature and water conditions
* Wind speed, wave height, strength and direction of currents
* Amount of sleep and recovery time between workouts
* Change of speed due to a change from a 2-beat to 4-beat to 6-beat kick

There is all kinds of metrics in the swimming world that matter and can help us improve our swimming speed and abilities.

As swimmers internalize their own data, they become very aware of their speed and how conditions can both negatively and positively impact their speed. Ask most veteran pool swimmers to swim 100 meters and they can probably come within a second or two of their actual pace even without a watch or pace clock – at almost any speed. Ask most veteran open water swimmers to swim for 20 minutes straight and they can probably come close to finishing right about 20 minutes even without looking at their watch – under almost any conditions.

That ability of swimmers to know their own bodies well and their inherent (and learned) ability to swim faster or slower is a great way to achieve improvement or even maintain one’s relative speed as one ages.

Swimmers – whether they document and analyze all their training data or whether they simply internalize the information on a daily basis – are outstanding examples of mastering what they measure.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association