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USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training
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I thought I would post some information on USRPT (Ultra-short Race Pace Training). It is a methodology for swim training that was developed by an exercise physiology PhD that has generated some discussion within the swimming community. Most of the sets advocated are repeats of less than 100 and to do 2x-2.5x the distance in the set. For instance, a 1500m swimmer would be 30x100 swim at race pace with no more than 20 seconds rest per 100. The swimmer would continue until they missed one of their race pace times on the 100 then they would sit out a 100 and continue the set. They would continue the set until they failed a second time then an active recovery session would start.

While not wholly applicable to training for the swim leg of a triathlon, there are aspects of the training that could help triathletes get better results from their swim. The big takeaway for triathletes is that it is better to do shorter, faster repeats with better technique than to train long, slow swims where your technique breaks down. I see too many tri-coaches wanting their athletes to do regular 1 hour straight swim sessions, 10x400 over and over again and in general long, slow swimming where poor technique is ingrained in the stroke. My observation is that most of the tri-coaches have either running or cycling backgrounds and they are applying those principles of training to swimming; it doesn't work well. That is fundamental misunderstanding of how to get better at swimming. The important highlight of USRPT for a triathlete is that technique is the most important aspect of fast swimming, especially for a beginning triathlete, coupled with generating a "training effect" (hard swimming) while maintaining proper technique. This notion of training and technique linked together can't be stressed enough. You cannot separate out technique from training and expect to get faster in swimming.

I posted some more of my thoughts on USRPT here: http://www.magnoliamasters.com/swim-efficiency

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Best regards,

Tim Floyd

http://www.magnoliamasters.com
http://www.snappingtortuga.com
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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Hey snappingt I am in love with USRPT. My coach is a big proponent and while I concentrate on shorter pool events In 25 years I have seen bigger improvement the past 3 than all the other years combined. Some of that is technique, but most of it is the USRPT. LOVE it. Having been coachless much of the past month I'm looking forward to a steady diet of these workouts starting Friday. Rushall's approach is fine by me!
Last edited by: tigerpaws: Jan 29, 14 12:48
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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I am curious at responses you will get. I attended the USRPT seminar by Dr. Rushall and Peter Andrew on 7th and 8th of Jan, held at KU. I am a swim coach and work somewhat close from time to time with Peter Andrew, father and coach of Michael Andrew. He exclusively trains under USRPT methodology.
Would love to see what you get here. Triathlon community is always more open minded than traditional swimming crowd. You may get scolded :) for bringing this up by some swimmers, you may hear, we have always done it this way.....kind of a thing. I listened to USA Swimming webinar by Bob Bowman, Capacity vs. Utilization training, he sure referenced Rushall and USRPT, was not impressed.
Anyway, the swim community is divided for sure. USRPT per say has not produced a star yet. I don't consider Salo entirely USRPT oriented, even though, some elements seem to appear in his work.

I seriously cringe at some swim workouts and thoughts handed down by tri coaches. Sometimes, it is clear, they have no idea. You can see a lot of times just running or cycling "translated" method to swimming.
Two things drive me insane, claims that swim training is mostly recovery in nature ( one is simply not swimming hard enough than) and miss use of drills, drilling to drill...........

I agree with your second paragraph entirely.
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for posting this. The USRPT, for the purposes of age group triathletes, seems like a focused and effective way to do specific work in the lead up to an event. Race-pace in triathlon is not a very hard effort (outside draft legal and starts), but this approach should improve focus and execution. And way more enjoyable than a long grinding swim.

I've been doing some of the posted workouts off your website and they are really well assembled - short and hard repeated intervals are effective. Thanks for sharing your program basics, it's a nice resource.
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [atasic] [ In reply to ]
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I wanted to start a discussion about swim training for triathletes and like I said there are some aspects of USRPT that are applicable to training triathletes for the swim. From what I've read of USRPT, there are certain aspects of it that are applicable to elite level swim training. I think it touches on a piece of the puzzle for some swimmers. I read the original paper that Rushall put out on USRPT and there was a lot of theory without a lot practical experience backing it up. The couple things that stuck out at me the most were don't use any equipment and don't do any drill work. It strikes me as someone that has never coached swimmers on a regular basis and someone that doesn't understand exactly how to get at great technique. Some of the equipment he dismissed is invaluable in getting at efficient technique. One other thing that sticks out is no weight lifting/dryland training. Especially, at an elite level, it's going to be kind of difficult to produce a star with that methodology.

Michael Andrews, I'd like to see how he develops over the next 5-10 years especially as he appears to train by himself. It's good to be 6'4 and 14 or 15 years old. As a coach, you know this as well as I do, swimming is littered with bright young swimmers that peak early and are never heard from again.

http://www.magnoliamasters.com
http://www.snappingtortuga.com
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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I agree totally. I find many flaws in USRPT and many holes he leaves unanswered.
I have my angle to it and see only targeted groups can benefit from it. I do not see it as a team training platform for developing swimmers, not at all. However, not that some elements cannot be applied where appropriate. Doc is an interesting face, pretty sarcastic and dismissive of traditional swim training. I find that a bit arrogant. It was fun listening him ramble about toys, drills and coaches with stopwatches.
I find that more developed swimmers, that have a large aerobic base from years of training, if specializing in sprint events can benefit from USRPT. I am not bying into this training for anything over 200. Look at Michaels events, rarely over 100.
My question is what happens with development of aerobic system when 14 year old engages in this kind of training year around????? I guess we shall see down the road. I do try to keep an open mind but I want to see an international breakthrough before I jump on it. Apparently, many European teams arw adopting it. Will see. Still interested for others to chime in.
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [atasic] [ In reply to ]
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First of all Rushall is a psychologist, not a physiologist. By no means am I implying that makes his perspective invalid, but the OP shoudl get that straight.

As for the ultra short repeats my thoughts.

1. Like others it shows that Brent R. isn't coaching anyone right now, and the whole conversation breaks my "name five" rule. If any coach author, anyone like that proposes some new supposedly wild idea that is taking the world by storm, name five. Give me FIVE people for whom it has worked well and their results and the changes in their results. Until you have five, you're just spitballing. And 5 is LOW, but once you have 5, I'll listen.

2. Who ISN'T doing this? This is the strawiest of straw men, a supposed dichotomy has been set up that in actuality doesn't exist. So a mess of 100s at 1,500 pace with 15 or 20 seconds rest. Yes, revolutionary, off the type of my head you can only find that type of set described in:
Championship Swim Training
Triathlete's Training Bible
Triathlete's Guide to Swim Training
Swimming Fastest
ASCA level 3 home study course
ASCA Masters home study course
USAT level 1 coaching manual
Swim Coaching Bible Vol 1
Swim Voaching Bible Vol 2
pretty much every other book written that covers swim set construction

So yes, that type of set is so revolutionary, EVERYONE does it.
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [Kevin in MD] [ In reply to ]
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Kevin,

Let me assist you. Unless his bio on his we page is wrong he is Prof Emeritus at San Diego State in Exercise and Nutritional Sciences. His graduate degrees are in exercise physiology/human performance. He is a registered psychologist and his early work dealt with sports psychology, but all his latter focus has been on the exercise sciences. I can see how you would get confused.

http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/rushall/

I am in no way advocating his theory of swim training, but there are aspects of it that the tri community needs to hear more often and I thought this would be a fun way to introduce it. The "revolutionary" aspect of it is that he argues that sprint, mid-distance and distance swimmers should always be training at race pace and maintaining efficient technique. That strength training does nothing to improve swimming performance and that drills and equipment do nothing to improve technique. Yes, those programs that you referenced below would include 100s with 15-20 seconds rest, but Rushall argues that repeats should never be longer than 100. The other programs you referenced don't advocate that rigid of a structure or that doing 500 or 1000 repeats is actually detrimental to your swim development.

In terms whose training like this, the only swimmer that is being trained to the letter with Rushall's theory is Michael Andrews. Dave Salo started training swimmers like this at Irvine Novaquatics in the early 80s. An Olympic swimmer that I swam with in high school trained like this in the late 80s. I know that a D3 school is implementing this methodology with their sprint group, but they just started this past season.

http://www.magnoliamasters.com
http://www.snappingtortuga.com
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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Great info and thanks for posting. I am interested in trying this out. I was not seeing any progress in speed doing long slow endurance sets last year, and hit a plateau which was demoralizing.

Every athlete that Tim coaches gets really fast, so I listen to what he says!
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [chris00nj] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the endorsement. We've had a lot of success on the team.

The one thing that I would caution about USRPT is that it is designed for swimmers that have already built up a HUGE base of training. I think there are aspects of it, however, that are very applicable to training for the swim leg of a triathlon. If you have any questions, let me know.

Best regards,

Tim

http://www.magnoliamasters.com
http://www.snappingtortuga.com
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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Between Matt, Liz, and Michelle, among others, you have some great swimmers! A couple questions:

  1. I put in about 125,000 yards over the last year and my speed is around 2:00/100 m for 500m. Is that sufficient to begin USRPT?
  2. Difference subject - Will you have another Snapping Tortuga open water swim event in the spring (prior to May)?

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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [chris00nj] [ In reply to ]
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Answer to number 1: If you are putting in around 125,000 yards a week, then yes.
Answer to number 2: Snapping Tortuga OWS (5k/2.5k/500m) is April 13, 2014 in Lake Conroe. Here is the link: http://www.active.com/...ack-2014?keywords=na

Also, we are going to do a Snapping Tortuga pool challenge. 1.2mile or 2.4mile pool swim, every one sends in the results by March 31, 2014 and you'll be able to compare your times to everyone around the country. I'll have more information on it in the next couple of days.

If you have any other questions, let me know.

Tim

http://www.magnoliamasters.com
http://www.snappingtortuga.com
Last edited by: SnappingT: Jan 30, 14 16:19
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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SnappingT wrote:
Answer to number 1: If you are putting in around 125,000 yards a week, then yes.Tim

this is a crack-up...thanks!
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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I have read a fair amount on the subject and made a few changes in my training as a result. My observation is that the longer the set the principals Rushal espouses hold true.

For example: his approach for a sprinter is something like this 20 x 25's with the first 6-8 seconds per 25 done at 100% effort. If you compare that set to, say 8 x 50's with LOTS of rest the swimmer doing the 20x25's will have 1. lower lactic acid levels through out the set and 2. spend more time overall at their top speed.

I have tried this very approach several times and I am 95% convinced he is right. It is strange. You feel "tired" but in a completely different way. And recovery comes much quicker.

However, I don't think there is a huge difference between doing 7 x 300's at 1500 race pace with 1 min of rest and 21 x 100's at 1500 race pace with 20 seconds rest ASSUMING I am close to my top condition and I don't think he was able to demonstrate any difference of lactic acid buildup between the two approaches.
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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Hey Tim, hope it doesn't bug you to answer a question you probably have answer a million times, but I was wondering how you like to determine hold paces/race paces? Is it what the swimmer could do right now, a lifetime best, or a goal time, or do you determine it some other way? Thanks for your time!

Tim

Tim Russell, Pro Triathlete

Instagram- @timbikerun
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [Timbikerun] [ In reply to ]
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Tim,

Sent you a PM, if you want to discuss.

Tim

http://www.magnoliamasters.com
http://www.snappingtortuga.com
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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Keen to give this a try. Are there any good sites out there with some examples of USRPT sets?
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [zedzded] [ In reply to ]
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Magnolia Masters puts on a pro/AG camp every year and I do a write up with all the workouts we do every day. You can find them on the Magnolia Masters website or this year Lava covered the camp in a series of articles. I hope this helps and if you have any other questions, please let me know.

Tim

http://www.magnoliamasters.com
http://www.snappingtortuga.com
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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SnappingT wrote:
Magnolia Masters puts on a pro/AG camp every year and I do a write up with all the workouts we do every day. You can find them on the Magnolia Masters website or this year Lava covered the camp in a series of articles. I hope this helps and if you have any other questions, please let me know.

Tim

Great thanks
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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I'm a huge fan of USRPT. I use it regularly to train for pool events. Contrary to atasic's speculation on effectiveness beyond 200M, I had huge success with it as my exclusive training method a couple years ago training for the 400M free as my "A event." That said, I'm not sure that it has a lot of direct applicability to triathlon training beyond maybe a FOP Sprint or Oly distance specialist. The objective of a triathlete in the swim is different than the pool swimmer or even open water racer. Especially a long-format triathlete. And I do think it gets harder to directly apply the principals at longer distances. I had far less success trying to adapt USPRT principals to my training for a 2 mile open water swim the following year.

Now, I do think triathletes would benefit from regularly doing some USRPT, or USPRT-like, sets of 25's and 50's at 100 and 200 pace, respectively. Think about the most effective ways used to build cycling power. It's not just long, slow rides. The repeated short alternating intervals of high output/recovery are a huge part of the plan. You need to do something similar in the pool, IMHO, if you want to build your swim power.


As for concerns about whether kids using this method will be lacking a "aerobic base," I think it depends. If they're being trained for 50's and 100's only, and aren't doing anything more than 25's at race pace, it's a valid concern. But if they're being trained for a variety of events across the spectrum of distances, then I think there's more of an aerobic component than might appear at first glance.


When I was training for the 400M free, my staple set was an "offering" of 32 x 75 yards at 400/500 race pace on a 20 second rest interval. I say "offering" of 32 because I never made that many before failing out. When I got close to 32, I knew it was time to advance the pace. Typically I was getting into the low 20's, though. So that set was taking me roughly 30 minutes, with ~20 minutes of that in motion. I guarantee there was a significant aerobic capacity component to that work. The sets of 25's I did at 100 race pace on 15 seconds rest which had a roughly 1:1 work:reset ratio and were over in 10-12 minutes? Not so much. But I guarantee that helped my power capacity, though.


In fact, in the middle of that training block I went out and finished 3rd overall in a 1.2 mile open water race, my first ever, despite rarely swimming anything longer than those 75's in practice. Not coincidentally, that 1.2 mile race took almost exactly as long to complete as one of those USRPT sets for the 400M free. And it's not like I had "carry over" aerobic capacity from other exercise, because I really wasn't doing anything else at the time besides swimming with USRPT.


As for Michael Andrew, it will be interesting to see what he's able to do in the next 5 years. While is rate of progression has slowed, his 14 year old "baseline" was so high that the gains are understandably hard to come by. He recently won a "World Champion" title in the 100 IM at FINA short course worlds. Not Junior World Champion, but outright World Champion. Now that field isn't a complete "Who's Who" of swimming because the US collegiate swimmers don't typically participate. But most of the International stars were there, and the field did include current world record holder Vlad Morozov.

And, with Lochte and Phelps out of the way, Michael Andrew is clearly in the hunt for a spot on next years Long Course World Championship roster for the 200 IM. He was 6th at trials, and swam a time this past weekend at the Indy Area Pro Series event that would have been 4th at trials.
Last edited by: gary p: Mar 6, 17 9:44
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [gary p] [ In reply to ]
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I have used a variation of Race pacee training for myself and athletes. For a triathlon or long distance application we use a set of 25-30x100 on 15 second rests. We try to hold 1500 meter pace for one workout and then use shorter sets with 25's to 100's once every 7-10 days. I do use it a bit more in the traditional manner for the athletes I coach for masters swim. As a triathlete ( from a running background) in my 35 year as a triathlete it makes sense for age group athletes getting a value to their training time.










futrmultisports.com
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [gary p] [ In reply to ]
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Gary,

I haven't had any problems training triathletes with a race paced approach for a 2.4 mile swim. What you really need to focus on is that it requires half the yardage to achieve the same result as a traditional volume approach to swimming. For instance, if a traditional volume approach of 10x400s or 4x1000s with the athlete swimming 15-20k a week was used, a race paced approach can get the same results on 7500-10k. In my experience, it's 2:1.

Hope this helps.

Tim

http://www.magnoliamasters.com
http://www.snappingtortuga.com
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [SnappingT] [ In reply to ]
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Tim-

I know this is an old thread, but I noticed that you responded earlier this year, so....

My googling for "USRPT for triathlon" let me to this thread...which I followed to the links on magnolia masters.

All the links to PDF's on the link above, seem to fail (404 errors).

I was looking for guidance for selecting a "pace". I tried a set on Saturday: 32x100 (:20), coming in at 1:45. I selected that pace based on a recent race (Oly Swim) where I finished in 31:00 (no wetsuit). Also my most recent 1000scy TT time is 17:40.

I kept coming in at 1:41-43 versus the 1:45 I had planned. I kept trying to slow down to the 1:45 pace, but the only "failure" I had in the first 2/3rds of the set were simply because I "slowed" to much trying to gauge the 1:45 effort correctly. I had my first true "failure" at #27. I sat out #28, and then finished the remaining reps with the last finishing strong at 1:40. I averaged 1:43 for the entire set, and held 20-22 spl (scy).

Obviously, 1:45 was too slow of a pace, and I probably need to bump to 1:40 or so.

So, my specific question was, "How do I choose the correct 'pace' for a USRPT set?" But, I was also interested in getting more general guidance about using USRPT for triathlon swim training (how/why to select different rep distances, paces, frequency/volume, etc). I'm specifically focused on Oly distance, and have about 14 months as an AOS.
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [Tom_hampton] [ In reply to ]
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Pure USRPT has been pretty hammered over the last few years, but if that’s what you want, you should try to get exactly 20 seconds rest per interval. You’ve gotta do the sets a couple times, as you found out, and pool times are comparable to open water times with any precision. Also, in pure USRPT, you’re SUPPOSED to fail.
So it sounds like you should be working at a 1:41 pace at least, and maybe dropping it a second or two now. For a while, at least, you’ll likely make quick progress with that interval and need to keep increasing your pace.
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Re: USRPT and Triathlon Swim Training [Tom_hampton] [ In reply to ]
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Tom_hampton wrote:
Tim-

I know this is an old thread, but I noticed that you responded earlier this year, so....

My googling for "USRPT for triathlon" let me to this thread...which I followed to the links on magnolia masters.

All the links to PDF's on the link above, seem to fail (404 errors).

I was looking for guidance for selecting a "pace". I tried a set on Saturday: 32x100 (:20), coming in at 1:45. I selected that pace based on a recent race (Oly Swim) where I finished in 31:00 (no wetsuit). Also my most recent 1000scy TT time is 17:40.

I kept coming in at 1:41-43 versus the 1:45 I had planned. I kept trying to slow down to the 1:45 pace, but the only "failure" I had in the first 2/3rds of the set were simply because I "slowed" to much trying to gauge the 1:45 effort correctly. I had my first true "failure" at #27. I sat out #28, and then finished the remaining reps with the last finishing strong at 1:40. I averaged 1:43 for the entire set, and held 20-22 spl (scy).

Obviously, 1:45 was too slow of a pace, and I probably need to bump to 1:40 or so.

So, my specific question was, "How do I choose the correct 'pace' for a USRPT set?" But, I was also interested in getting more general guidance about using USRPT for triathlon swim training (how/why to select different rep distances, paces, frequency/volume, etc). I'm specifically focused on Oly distance, and have about 14 months as an AOS.

you are thinking about pacing and being smart about it so, really, that is 90% of the battle.

The thing with a swim time trial is they are a lot more variable than we like to think. I swim a 3000 straight every Tuesday and have ranged from 40:30 to 42:07 the last month. It has a lot to do with what I did in the AM, the day before and the swimsuit I wear. So what is my pace?

It seems that, on that particular day, you needed to target 1:40. (And perhaps half way through you make an adjustment.)

If all you are doing is swimming the approach would be more exact. There would be a lot less variables and thus your pace range on any given day would narrow. Unless that is the case, you need to be able to adapt...

PS: Tim works with a lot of folks who have such a high fitness level a bad day is maybe 1 or 2 seconds per 100.
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