Archives for posts with tag: usrpt

Well done for all of your efforts last week with the quicker breathing and keeping it going through the main set.  There were occasions where I saw people slipping back into their normal slower breathing patterns but I was really pleased to see the efforts you put into keeping what you practised in the drills going as much as possible through what was quite a long main set.

The person I saw with the best breathing was Elisa in lane 2 during the second session.  If you get a chance please do watch how quickly and well she times her breathing.  She has worked really hard at changing her breathing over the last year since we first did these quick breathing drills and you can really see how well she times her breathing now.  She has also managed to knock 43 seconds off her 400m time trial time, too!

Changing any aspect of your technique requires persistence and effort but with time improvements can be made.  Changing breathing is a challenging change since it is one of those changes that doesn’t feel better when you start.  The problem is that you usually get less breath when you first try it, because you are more tense than usual as you concentrate on making a change and have less time to actually breathe, which can’t be good, right?!  Right!  Getting less breath is not good but quicker breathing usually also helps improve your stroke rate and helps your head position mean you get a stronger catch when starting the first pull after the breath.  So the challenge of making a change to quicker breathing permanently requires you to find a way of getting the benefits from stroke rate and catch but without the drawbacks of getting less breath.  My advice for how to do this is 3-fold:

  • Keep trying and practising and you will get more comfortable and less tense so getting more breath
  • Try explosive breathing – doing a quick exhale before you turn to breathe – to maximise the amount of breath to get each time
  • Think about your breathing especially towards the end of the main sets when you are most tired as this is often when you can get the most benefit and you naturally relax to conserve energy


This week we will be doing some of the same quick breathing drills we did last week before going into a set of fast ultra-short race-pace training (USRPT) 50s.  The quick breathing fits really well with USRPTs where you will need the faster stroke rate it helps you generate and stronger catch to keep your speed going.

Late breaking news: Did you see Katie Ledecky break the 1500m world record this week with an amazing 15m20s?!  If not you can watch it here.  See if you can manage her splits of under 31s per 50m for some of the USRPT 50s this week to understand what it feels like to swim that fast!

See you Saturday,


Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash


It was really interesting to see people doing hip-connector drill last week.  The most common issue it highlighted was many of you rushing the catch of the stroke and trying to apply some power too soon in your stroke so being inefficient by pressing the water downwards rather than backwards.  Although the hip-connector drill is really designed to think about timing rotation with your catch it did show up a rushed catch for many of you, which I was pleased to see you corrected when I asked you to be a bit more patient.

This week we will be doing some Unco and reverse catch-up drills before the main set and I’d like you to think about being patient with the catch by counting 1-2-3 with each stroke.  1 is when your hand enters the water, 2 is taking your hand to the catch or early-vertical-forearm position and 3 is for the push.  Take a slight pause after 1, 2 and 3 to focus on the next phase.  Having a bit more patience, especially after 2, is a good way to make sure your forearm is completely vertical before starting the real power phase of the stroke with a push.

For the main set we will be doing our first set of USRPT 50s for 2018.  This is a great set of high-intensity interval training and I have written several times before about how to tackle this set (in this post for example.)  Every time we do this set I am amazed by the number of people who do this set without missing out any 50s.  You do get a good workout by doing this but it is not the way to get the most benefit from the set.  This set is all about swimming faster than is sustainable so your times will inevitably drop off and when they do you should miss out the next 50 to give you the additional recovery to swim faster again.  So if you are tempted to try and go all the way through without missing any out then please try and swim a bit faster!

See you Saturday,



It’s time for our USRPT main set of fast 50s again this week.  Read my previous post if you want a reminder on how best to tackle this set to get the most from it.  Also, as it’s the Great East Swim this week I will only be around to coach the 7am session but Chrissie has kindly offered to coach the 8am session.  The session is all mine, though, so don’t blame Chrissie!

See you Saturday,


Well done for all your efforts last week on the USRPT 50s.  It was good to see some good times from those pushing the pace and also some great consistency from those swimming at a more comfortable pace in preparation for racing on Sunday.

This week we will keep pushing the pace with some fast 100s.  I’d like you to aim to swim them at double your USRPT 50 pace plus 3-5 seconds.  So, if you were swimming each 50 last week in 50 seconds, I’d like you to aim for 1:43-1:45 for each 100 this week.  There will be a reasonable amount of rest plus a few Brucey Bonus rests to ensure you can keep the pace high.  To help keep the pace going throughout the 100 please focus on the second half of each 100 and think about the “Hinge” (2) of your 1-2-3 on each stroke to ensure you are maintaining your strong catch.

See you Saturday,


This week we will be doing the set of fast 50s as USRPT (Ultra Short Race Pace Training).  This can be swum in a couple of different ways.

The first way is to swim it at a comfortable pace and focus on good pacing and technique.  As the turnaround times are comfortable this is very possible and will give you a comfortably-paced session that is not too taxing.  This is ideal if you have a race coming up, you are coming back from injury or just need a low intensity session.

The other way is to swim it at an unsustainably fast pace that means you will need to miss out at least 2 of the 50s to maintain your times.  This is how the set is intended to be swum and designed to give you the benefit from a lot of faster than race pace swimming and helps you work on maintaining your technique and speed while fatigued.  Please read my previous post on the details of how to swim it this way here.

I am very happy with whichever way you decide to tackle this session as you know what sort of session is best for you at this stage of the season.  My only request is that you put yourself in the right position in the correct lane (with everyone swimming 5s intervals and getting 20-25s rest) to make sure everyone can get the right workout we want from this session.

Thanks and see you Saturday!


We will be doing some more fast-paced, USRPT 50s this week where the target is to swim at a faster pace than you can sustain for the whole set without missing some out.  Remember, leave 5s intervals between swimmers and take your times for every 50.  As soon as your time drops by 1s or more miss the next one out and take the extra recovery.

We will be continuing with a mix of fast and speed endurance sets for the remainder of September to help you keep your race speed going until the end of the season.  From October we will drop back to more technique and steady-paced aerobic swimming as the first part of winter training.

If you like numbers, are enjoyed the Swim Smooth Olympic analysis video I posted last week, then you may also be interested in the follow-up analysis Paul Newsome has published on stroke rates and stroke lengths from the Olympics, which you can find here.  The trade-off between stroke length and stroke rate is particularly important and is one of the reasons we measure both of these when we do the 400m time trials throughout the winter.  This is a theme I will return to again when we get into the Winter training.

See you Saturday!


This week I was planning to do time trials but as some of you are away for Easter we will do them next week on 2nd April to ensure you don’t have to miss them.  Instead of time trials we are going to be doing the same USRPT main set of fast 50s that we did last week.  This week, however, I would like you all to aim to swim on average 1s faster per 50 than you did last week.

“How do I do that?”, I hear you cry, “I was nearly sick after swimming the set last week!”  Well, it is only 1s per 50 so surely that is the just a very small marginal gain.  Here are some ideas of how to achieve it:

  • If you only missed out 2 x 50s or fewer last week, miss out 3 x 50s this week and use the extra rest to swim faster.
  • Swim in the correct lane for your pace.  You should be getting 20-25s rest on this set for the most benefit so to swim in lane 1 please make sure you are able to swim them all under 40s, under 45s in lane 2 and under 50s in lane 3 or try lane 4.
  • Try and relax and search for easy speed.  I know many of you find that by trying too hard you tense up and swim slower so do try and relax as much as possible, keep your streamlining and swim efficiently.
  • Keep the pace going especially in the last 5m or 10m of each swim, which is an area is see many of you slow up quite dramatically.  Using your legs in this part of each swim will really help with this and keep your tempo and stroke rate nice and high.
  • Have a good streamlined push off at the start and turn, keeping your head down and maximising the benefit of the push with your legs.  Do a fast tumble turn if you can, too.
  • Use the warm-up and subset this week to make sure you are swimming with as perfect a technique as possible when you start the set.  Good technique is the best way for getting easy speed.

Blimey, with all these great tips I am actually thinking there’s probably a 3s improvement for everyone this week!  But to ensure I don’t get anyone passing out on me I will be happy to just see a 1s improvement – go on, I know you can do it!

See you Saturday,


This week we will be cranking up the pace a bit more and doing a main set with all the swims at a faster pace than we have been swimming over the previous weeks.  The main set is based on USRPT principles, which stands for Ultra-Short Race-Paced Training.  This is a form of training that is proving particularly effective at improving swim speeds with many clubs.  Simon Bradford did a set like this with some of you a few weeks ago while I was away.  The way it works is as follows:

  • The main set is a set of 50s with every one swum fast – at about your 200m race pace (approx 35s per 50 for lane 1, around 40s per 50 for lane 2, around 45s per 50 for lane 3 and around 50s per 50 for lane 4)
  • You must take your time for every 50 and the aim is to swim every one in exactly the same time, so make sure you leave exactly 5s intervals between each swimmer and allow everyone to finish their 50 and take their own time.
  • At this pace of swimming it should be impossible to complete the set.  So, as soon as your pace drops off (even if only by 1 second) miss out the next 50 and join in on the following 50 and get back onto your race pace again.
  • You should need to miss out between 2 and 3 x 50s over the whole main set if you are swimming at the right pace.  If you miss out less than 2 x 50s, you are swimming too slowly.  If you miss out more than 3 x 50s, you are swimming too fast.
  • If the person in front of you misses out a 50, leave a 10s gap so that you are still getting the same rest interval and leaving a space for them to join in on the next one.

This is a tough set but a great one for improving your race pace swimming as we get ready for the next set of time trials in the lead up to the start of the racing season.

See you Saturday,


%d bloggers like this: