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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > July 2017 > DEVICE OR BRAIN?


Total Immersion head coach and founder Terry Laughlin looks at stroke counting and whether you should do it with your brain, or let a swim watch count for you


Let’s begin by asking: “why count strokes?” The most important reason is that Stroke Length (SL) is the efficiency measure which correlates most strongly with superior performance in all strokes, all distances and all ages or ability levels. Counting strokes is the only way to monitor SL as you swim. Knowing your stroke count on any timed swim or repeat gives you a more complete understanding of the quality of that swim than if you only knew your time.

Once you’re persuaded that stroke count data is valuable, what are the pros and cons of counting in your head or letting a device do it for you? In the early ‘90s when I started counting strokes, the second option wasn’t available. It did take effort initially, but that effort diminished steadily. For many years, it’s been as automatic as breathing. In fact, it now seems to take more effort not to count than to continue.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

In this issue we are celebrating the joy of wild swimming. There is more to swimming outdoors than organised events and races; wild swimming gives you space to experience nature, adventure, freedom and creativity. Seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and lochs... look at a map and any blue space is a possibility to swim. As contributor Sam Mould writes in ‘Wayfarer in the Wilderness’, her exploration of wild swimming and landscape: “I feel that I have become dislocated from the natural world, from the wild environment and the inexorable rawness of nature.” Wild swimming goes some way to redress that balance. We hope you enjoy the stories within these pages, whether you like dipping in tarns in the Lake District or swimming across lakes in Switzerland, and get some new ideas for your own wild swimming adventures around the country and the world. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming. Jonathan Cowie Editor