Race Pace Set for a Well-Oiled (Team) Machine

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

This set is a really simple one, variations of which have appeared on this blog multiple times.  I am sharing/re-sharing it today to further explain how we execute this set.

Recently, we moved several swimmers up into our top group, so I have taken that as an opportunity to re-emphasize our procedures.  I like to run a very clean, efficient practice, one where every swimmer knows what he or she should be doing and what the expectations are.

For this set, we had 4 or 5 swimmers per lane across 5 lanes.  The aim of the set is to swim at 200 race pace on EVERY 50, but I instructed them to be mindful of  taking it one-at-a-time.  The early interval gives them good rest to be able to achieve that pace (and build some confidence for later), and then we tighten it up and get a REAL test on #5 and #6.

I typically solo coach 15-25 athletes in a given practice, so in order for things to function efficiently on this set, we do the following:

  • Swimmers push off 10 seconds apart.  This means I don’t have to do any subtracting of times — if I read “Matt…three-two,” he knows that his time was 33.2, not 23.2 or 43.2.
  • Swimmers are timed “to the feet,” meaning they complete a turn at the conclusion of the 50. This corresponds how we would time a mid-race 50 back or free (feet-to-feet) or breast/fly (hand-to-hand).
  • Every swimmer on our squad knows his or her pace for best times and goal times.  Each swimmers always has this info handy using our laminated Pace Cards.
  • I time every swimmer, but with this many swimmers in the pool, I can’t possibly keep track of who is making their pace and who is not, so we have set up a signalling system. If a swimmer achieves her “best time” pace (but slower than goal pace), she gives her self an open-handed tap-tap on the head. If she achieves her “goal time” pace, it is a closed-fist knock-knock on the head.  If the swimmer failed to make goal or best time pace, no signal is performed. This gives me excellent instant visual feedback on how we are doing.

 That’s just one coach’s example of how we keep practice humming right along… what strategies do you use?

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