Proper Pacing

Swimmers are looking for an edge and new ways to perfect their technique in order to shave fractions of a second off their times. More and more swimmers are looking towards pacing during training to improve their workout times and efforts in order to achieve their goal times during a race. For example, in a 200 freestyle a swimmer might pace their 50’s splits 31,33,33,32 to sum to a total time of 2:09.

It is important to enter any race or competition with a plan of attack. Knowing how to pace in a race will give you a psychological and physiological edge on the competition. Especially for the longer events such as the 500 freestyle or maybe an 5km open water swim,  knowing what time and speed you need to go to achieve that time is essential during a race. Sometimes the swimmer next to you takes out a race too fast or what I call “flying and dying”.However, if you stick to your race plan and pace yourself smartly, you will have a great advantage in the second half of the swim when you have conserved the proper amount of energy to finish the race at your pace.

There has been a general trend of swimmers focusing on a more evenly split race. This makes sense because allowing yourself to go out in a race a little bit slower and finishing stronger allows you to have just a little bit of extra energy for the end of the race and shifts the heavy lactic acid producing portion of the race (when you start really pushing your muscles) towards the latter half of the race.

So how do we learn to pace a more evenly swum race and gain that extra edge on the competition? The best way to learn before a race is to practice this technique in a workout setting. Catching splits to find out your pace during a set can be nearly impossible with having to quickly glance at the clock during a swim and can be made even more difficult if your goggles are fogging up. This can be easily fixed by using the Tempo Trainer Pro. By setting the Tempo Trainer Pro to mode 2, you are able to set total pace times for each laps and distances. For example, if you want to go a 2:00 in a 200 free and even split the race you could either set for your 25 splits to beep every 15 seconds or for a 50 splits to beep every 30 seconds. Based on how far ahead or behind the beeps you are, it is possible to determine how close you are to your goal pace time.

Here are few examples sets of how you can utilize the Tempo Trainer Pro to work on your pacing in a race:

Set 1: 500 freestyle pacing
2x Through

3 x 100s on 2:00 distance per stroke

1×150 @500 pace* with two beep cycles of rest

1×100 @500 pace* with one beep cycle of rest

2x50s @500 pace* with one beep cycle of rest


*Set the tempo trainer to the 50 split of your goal 500 time (ie for a 5:00 500, the Tempo Trainer Pro would be set to a 30 seconds interval). Ideally start off a little bit slower on the 150s and work your way down till you are under your goal pace on the end of the set if possible.
Set 2: 200 of any stroke pacing

3x Through

2×200 on 4:00 100 freestyle 100 non-freestyle

3x50s @ 200 pace* with two beep cycles of rest


*Set the tempo trainer to the 25 split of your 200 goal pace. Work especially on making the second beep in every 50. In a 200, the back half of a 50 is especially important in setting tempo and pace for the rest of the race.
Remember to focus on pacing in practice and to enjoy the improvements!

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