Becca Mann Blogs USRPT, Day 2

  201 Braden Keith | January 08th, 2014 | Featured, International, News, Opinion, Training, Training Intel

Becca Mann, one of the toughest and best junior swimmers in the world, will be spending this week living and training with Michael Andrew, one of the best male 14-year old swimmers in the world, and his family at their home near Lawrence, Kansas, and will share her experiences with us. Becca, who trains in Clearwater, Florida under Randy Reese, was a member of the 2013 U.S. World Championship team after finishing 2nd in both the 5km and 10km at last year’s National Championships, and placed 8th in both the 5km and 10km race in Barcelona. In 2012, at the U.S. Olympic Trials, the then-14-year old Mann qualified for finals in the 400 free, the 800 free, and the 400 IM.

To see Becca’s day 1 blog, click here.

Hi SwimSwammers!  Here’s the second Andrew Blog.  Today we drove over to KU where we did a quick USRPT practice and attended Dr. Rushall’s seminar.  I’m going to cover some of the commonly overlooked details of USRPT, answer some questions, and post the practices.
Morning practice, SCY at KU, all freestyle
100 warm up
9x25s sprint from the blocks, about a minute rest.  I was holding 11.4s and Michael was holding 9.5s.  We did 1×25 fly at the end.  I went an 11.8, Michael went a 9.8
1 minute break
10x50s.  12.5 easy, 25 all out, 12.5 easy.  About 20 seconds rest
1:30 rest
21x25s at 100 pace, 15 seconds rest.  I was holding 12 lows and mids while Michael was holding 10 highs and 11 lows
Warm down.I forgot to say how much rest we got in our practice yesterday, so I’m going to be it here.  Yesterday’s workout was SCY.  We got 15 seconds rest for the 25 breasts, 25 seconds for the 50 frees, and 10 seconds for the 25 frees.  During the 8 minute break, we did about a 150 easy and then recovered at the wall for the rest of the time.
Dr. Rushall’s Seminar
The first thing Dr. Rushall said in his seminar was that USRPT is, “not theories, but deductions made from scientific work.”
-USRPT requires completely new thinking
-In USRPT, there is no such thing as lactate tolerance or anaerobic training
-You have to discard any currently held ideas about swimming
-You must accept that science is right and opinions are mostly wrong
-Except difference performances and training from different swimmers
-The PRINCIPLE OF SPECIFICITY reigns
•THE LANGUAGE OF USRPT
-A set is a “training stimulus”.
-How a swimmer reacts is a “training effect”.
-What results from the set is a “training effect”.
-The demand of the training stimuli is the “training stress”.
HIERARCHY OF IMPORTANCE OF SPORTS SCIENCE (training emphases for serious swimming)
1. Biomechanics (technique)
Swimming science journal reference :
HIGH TRAINING AND DRYLAND TRAINING ARE NOT RELATED TO IMPROVEMENTS IN SWIMMING PERFORMANCE
This study divided the National Team – divided into female sprinters, female distance swimmers, male sprinters, and male distance.  The study states what the swimmers on the National Team had in common with their competitors.
Female sprinter data: The earlier they started swimming, the sooner they burned out
Female distance data: Average yardage was high.  How can we have our swimmers do enough yardage all at race pace?
Male sprinter data: the more hours they swam/yardage they do, the slower they swam
Male distance swimmer data: Swimmers had nothing in common
2. Psychology (mental control and intrinsic rewards)
If the swimmer doesn’t want to do it, they won’t do well.  You have to want it and be present in practice.
3. Physiology (conditioning)
You can only go as fast as your hereditary body can go.  However, if you don’t have good physiology, you can make up for it in technique.
THE BODY ‘S ADAPTIVE CAPACITY
“As a result of a stress the body tends to recover beyond the point of mere restoration.  This is the process of adaptation, and it varies with the intensity of the stress.  Very small amounts of of adaptation occur with light loads, and quicker adaptation is gained with heavy loads.”
-If a swimmer is going to do 16x200s and they’re singing songs the whole way through, they won’t get anything out of it.
-If they swim 40x50s at race pace with 20 seconds rest, they have a high chance of improving because
-If a swimmer is doing 16x200s and starts swimming lousily at number 10, they should stop.  When they keep going, their technique gets sloppy and it’s detrimental to their stroke and recovery.
-Energy supports technique.  Fatigue does not.
CENTRAL TASK and TRAINING EFFECT
“To develop specific conditioning in the muscles and manner of movement to be used in a particular race.  This requires specific brain patterning.”
The PRINCIPLE OF SPECIFICITY is acute in swimming.  The swimming technique and how it is energized is velocity specific.
A “training effect” is the specific adaption that results from a particular swimming activity.
The “strain” of swimming is training is the cumulative effect of race-specific and non-specific physical exertion (traditional training).
“Both produce fatigue; one useful, the other useless.”
Swimmers should always come out of the pool a better swimmer than they were when they jumped in the pool.  They shouldn’t leave the water until they’ve improved on something, or done something better than they’ve ever done before.
COACHING USRPT
Coaching serious swimmers is not like coaching lesser or younger swimmers.
-For beginner swimmers, drills can be beneficial since they do not know the correct way to swim the strokes.
-For average trained swimmers, drills are mostly no longer beneficial .
-For serious trained swimmers, drills are harmful.
Don’t train beginners like Olympians and Olympians like beginners.  Enter why drills are harmful.
-For beginner swimmers, any swimming can be beneficial
-For average trained swimmers, specific and non-specific swimming are beneficial.
-For serious trained swimmers, non-specific training is very harmful.
DRYLAND
“When you’re in the water, you’re totally supported.  On land, you have to deal with gravity.”  Dr. Rushall says that dryland and drills will not help the swimmer since it’s not specific to swimming.  How does it help your stroke when you’re too sore to swim well?
SUMMARY OF MAIN PRINCIPLES
-Recovery is as important, if not more important, than work.  Without recovery there can be no training effect.
-Conditioning effects are limited by hereditary (no amount of training will improve inherited physiological capacities).
-Conditioning effects are limited within a season – swimmers achieve maximum fitness in a limited time and then cease to improve.
-Great individual variations refute to the use of single or group programs.
-Irrelevant exercises/swimming is useless.
-When physiological  conditioning is emphasized in traditional training, swimmers spend most of the year avoiding overtraining and over-reaching and not gaining benefits.
-Overload increments should be stepped, not gradual or whimsical.  Steps provide opportunities for specific adaptations.
-Repeated exposures to workloads are necessary for specific fitness improvements.
-Fatigue inhibits learning.
CURRENT PRACTICES THAT VIOLATE KNOWN PRINCIPLES OF CONDITIONING
-The greater the number of sessions per weeks, the better. [Recovery, strain, total life stresses, etc.]
-The greater the absolute distance covered in a week, the better. [Relevant or irrelevant swimming, specificity, extraneous activities.]
-Variety in training programs is essential.  [Insufficient repetition of training stimuli.]
-Any swimming directed by a coach is beneficial.  [Only if the intention is there.]
-Conditioning training is best. [Actually, third of three in importance.]
-There are zones of training [Not within human physiologies.]
-The harder the swimmer works, the better. [Violates the Principles of Individuality/Specificity.]
-There are physiological indices of good training. [Unrelated to racing.]
-Drills and equipment are beneficial.
-Fitness can be improved year-round. [Actually, very limited.]
-Physiological training principles are accurate.  C:\CompactDisks\Cdcsa\csa\Vol71\noakes.htm [Read the conclusions of this study.]
PARAMETERS FOR A NEW CONDITIONING/TRAINING PARADIGM
-Specificity.  Only race-pace or faster swimming will lead to improvements.
-Slower swimming will produce more economical slow swimming and also produces non-specific overload (strain) and is of no benefit to racing.
-Rest is as important as work.  Thus, active rest periods need to be scheduled within practice sessions.
-Interval training is the base model of repetition structure.  It produces the most extensive specific overload aided by its repetitious nature.
-Total specific mileage is the criterion for beneficial training. [This contrasts with the completion of sets, total yardage, etc.]
CONSIDERATIONS
-Keep track of total yardage.  Answer what was improved in the session.
-A major task is to define what has been improved in the USRPT set
-Never give up pool time for dryland work and never do dryland work that interferes with training participation or full recovery between training sessions.
-Yards swum at race-pace or better is the criterion for beneficial training content.
USRPT
Step 1: Form a General Outline of the practice
-Recovery lane
-Whole-pool sets
-Different lane sets
-Recovery opportunities
-Token warm-up
-Four sets
-Skills and technique work consumes time
-No warm down
Design of a USRPT session
1. Token warm up
2. Skills, technique intro., 50 meter practices
3. First USRP set
4. First recovery
5. Second USRP set
6. Second recovery
7. Third recovery
8. Third recovery
9. Fourth USRP set
10. Session recovery
Step 2: Form like-groups of swimmers in every lane for all sets
1. Each group has close repetition times
2. Same interval time with small discrepancies between rest periods
3. Orderly training to produce good water and passing lanes. Five second starts.
4. Overall, the total set times should be close.
5. Follow each set with a pool-wide general recovery.
Step 3: Determine the stroke(s) to be swum in all sets
1. The restriction from training for butterfly
2. Only use constant-pace and stroke sets
3. Each lane has the same stroke                               step 4 – 7 ??
4. Keep in mind a high number of trials.
Mixed training produces mixed results.
Step 8: Incrementally adjust performance criteria in a set to stimulate improvement
-Occurs when the swimmer nears the maximum number of repetitions in a set or when improvements have ceased.
-Always adjust repetition time to make the work more challenging and race-specific.
-Usually a change will need to be effected in 2-3 weeks.
UNDERSTANDING A REPETITION SET
The first 4-6 repetitions are unsettled physiologically.  This occurs because the set begins after a rest.
-Specific training accelerates the adaption phase.
-Unrelated fitness has no effect within the set
-Training effect for performance is developed.
-Only past this  phase do training effects occur.
-This stage of the set mirrors the early stages of a race.
-Longest rest is 20 seconds, sufficient for stored oxygen and phosphate compounds to be restored and for aerobic functioning to continue.
-Oxidative work continues across the set without diminution in the rest period.
-The body learns how to move and how to energize the techniques.
-A rough guideline is to have swimmers complete approximately three times the race distance (within reason).
-Eventually, the onset of fatigue occurs and it is largely neurological.
-Performance drops.  After a failure to reach race-pace, one repetition is missed to allow more rest.  The swimmer uses the break to focus and gather resources.
-When two failures occur in a row (fail, rest, fail), the set is abandoned and the swimmer begins active recovery.
-The maximum number of repetitions should not be completed.
THE PECULIAR CASE OF 50 m/y RACING A TRAINING
50 meter races are unique because:
-Hypoxic – mostly without breathing and so the energy used has a very small aerobic component.
-Pacing is not critical but is helpful.
-All phases and skills must be performed perfectly.
-Performed at a level rarely exhibited in training.
-All training elements should stress at least one race-relevant factor.
-Swimmers should be encouraged to develop levels of effort not experienced before.
-Allocate 20-30 minutes of the training session and persist until the swimmer’s performance deteriorates.
-Training volume is slow to improve.
•MISC.
-Traditional coaches are training swimmers to train, not to race.  USRPT trains swimmers to race.
-When exposed to conditioning programs, the”Individuality of Training Principle” requires that individuals be accommodated for their inherited capacities and states of training/adaption.
-There is no place for practicing errors.  Not only does incorrect practice detract from correct practice, but it also makes it more difficult to do the correct practice.
-Optimal and maximal improvements will only come from correct practices that transfer to the competitive setting.
-It is the available stored oxygen and high-energy metabolism of the phosphagen-related substances that is the anaerobic activity primarily involved in racing performances in swimming
-USRPT is especially effective for swimmers who swim several events a meet because, in a USRPT practice, you swim as fast as you can with about the same amount of rest in between sets as you do in a meet.
-Do a very minor warm-down.  [Mostly can be done outside of pool—at least AnT pace if any swimming.
After the seminar, P2Life representative, Tim Shead, came in and talked about the benefits of P2Life.
•SWIMSWAM Q&A SECTION
CoachErik asked: When you say you were failing pace and had to do 25s @ 200pace, does that mean you hit 3 failures before the 10x50s and 6x50s were over?
Answer: We actually were stopping at 1 fail during the 50s.  We both failed on the last 50 of the second set (the 6x50s).
Q: You said what you were going, but what were you trying to hold or was the times you stated what you were supposed to hold and were not?
A: In the 50 breasts, my 200 pace was 34.5 and Michael’s was _30__.  In the 25s, my pace was 17.25 and Michael’s was ___15_.  My 200 free paces were 26.26 and 13.13.  Michael’s were  25.6 and _12.8__.
I’m going to let (coach) Peter Andrew answer these next two questions.
BD asked: How does turn time factor into pace (is usrpt specific to the 10th’s of a second)?
A: We don’t factor it in.
Q: How does one measure practice improvement…longer sets, shorter rest, fewer strokes etc?
A: More repeats at race pace.
That’s it for this blog!  Tune in tomorrow to see more USRPT!

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Comments

  1. makes complete sense says:
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    This is fabulous. Hats of, Becca for thoroughly explaining this unique training technique. As a mom who’s watched my 11 year old suffer through 7,000 yd freestyle sets with terrible technique while her best race is the 100 breast I’ve always wondered why! The best answer I got was “because it’s worked for swimmers in the past”. Worked for all swimmers? Huh? On the whole, I’ve found that swim coaches feel distance training and garbage yardage is so impressive but it hardly ever produces results in meets. Want to know why the slackers on your team perform best in meets? Here’s your answer. They’re not wasting their time over swimming like the other suckers. You hate them because the only time they practice hard is during the race sets. This dynamic has been going on in swim teams forever and now I understand why. I’m looking forward to every word Becca has to say about USRPT.

    • Eagleswim says:
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      Your examples don’t make a whole lot of sense. For every swimmer that swims well at meets without trying hard there are plenty who work really hard and it pays off. Sure, not everyone does well both high yardage programs, but then again, not everyone is meant to be a good swimmer. You can’t just use some peoples’ success or lack thereof as evidence for a particular system either way. This method sure sounds nice, just like all systems that promise more results for less work. They’re like get-rich-quick schemes. They sound attractive because a 2000 yd workout that promises to make you just as MICHAEL ANDREW!!!! sounds easier than actually putting in the work

      • Hulk Swim says:
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        EagleSwim,

        That’s not making a whole lot of sense easier… It’s not 2000y workouts and it doesn’t promise to make everyone as good as Michael Andrew…

        It’s 2x workouts a day (the way the Andrews do it, apparently), and depending on the events you are training for, it could be upwards of 3,000 per workout… so still getting 6,000y in per day.

        And it’s very clear that Rushall believes that athletes are limited in their potential by their hereditary body types and physical attributes.

        He’s just saying this is the ideal way to maximize your race potential, which again, is different for everyone.

        • Eagleswim says:
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          My point about Michael Andrew is this: would it be on this site if he wasn’t fast?? Every get rich quick scheme depends on a few success stories, and until it’s proven otherwise, I don’t see this any differently

      • Ragnar Darko says:
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        Eagleswim, couldn’t agree more. Our only true recognizable and successful (so far) product of this method is Michael Andrew, and it’s impossible to justify his success based solely on his training since he is so big for his age.

        • makes complete sense says:
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          Even if it only “sort of” works I applaud anyone challenging the the status quo that says if you want to excel at this sport you have to be prepared to spend 5 hours a day doing it.

          • Ragnar Darko says:
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            I’ll second that. I think we’ll see how this all pans out in the next couple of years leading up to Rio.

          • Hulk Swim says:
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            Rio has nothing to do with this- Michael Andrew will be 17 going into Rio. He is, and let me say this loudly and clearly:

            VERY UNLIKELY TO MAKE THE OLYMPIC TEAM IN 2016.

            Either way, it will not be an arguement for or against this way of training. 17 year old guys don’t make Olympic Teams anymore. Especially in the US where we have so many post-grads and pros. Him not making it (even on a relay, where he’ll need to be top 6 when I can name at least 12 guys off the top of my head who are still training for Rio and are in their mid-20s) won’t be dissapointing at all.

            Michael Andrew, like most elite age groupers before him, is very big for his age. So aren’t most of the kids from high volume programs breaking NAG’s (Townley Haas, Max Miranda, Ryan Hoffer, etc.)

            When he’s a full grown adult (20+) we can start the debate about whether this training failed his development, or prepared him greatly for the demands of racing the 100/200 distances.

          • Eagleswim says:
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            Hulkswim,
            What would you propose would make this viable then? I think michael Andrew making the Olympic team would be the only way this training method gains any serious traction. 17 isn’t that old to expect someone to make the Olympic team, especially when you’re talking about an athletic freak who is supposedly using a completely revolutionary and game-changing training method that will leave all others in the dust

      • TheRoboticRichardSimmons says:
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        In my opinion, USRPT doesn’t sound like less work at all…just a very different kind of hard work. 2000 yards at race pace can be much, much harder than 6000+ garbage yards.

        a few additional thoughts:

        first, there might be several other swimmers implementing the spirit of USRPT, if not in name, during their training. Katinka Hosszu comes to mind as an elite swimmer that reflects many of USRPT theories in her approach to competition. i don’t know enough about how she trains to say anything for certain, but i wouldn’t be surprised if she did a lot of specific race-pace sets in practice. also, philosophically, Dave Salo seems generally aligned with this type of approach.

        second, despite the seemingly rigid nature of these USRPT sets, my guess is that a creative coach can find some really compelling ways to adapt these methods. (i have of my ideas listed below).

        third, almost all swimmers incorporate some elements of USRPT into their training cycle. it’s called taper. for 2-4 weeks before a big swim meet, nearly every coach increases the amount of short repeats swimmers do at race pace. is it possible that, to some degree, the reason people drop time when they taper isn’t because they’re “resting” from the impressive amount of training they did, but is instead because they’re finally giving their bodies the right kind of stimuli? just a thought.

        here’s one of my own USRPT inspired sets for 200 swimmers: 4×200 free with a metric-based “abort” on 3 minutes

        do a set of repeats at your target distance (200 free) with a coach timing you / taking stroke rate, etc. for each repeat, your goal is to hold pace / stroke rate / etc, which your coach is measuring for each 25 with a stopwatch. once you slip in one key metric, the coach blows his whistle and you stop. thought the set is written as 4×200, it may effectively become a set of 4×75 on 3 minutes. once you hit a certain threshold (say, completing a 125 at goal metrics) you may adjust your goals to something more ambitious.

        in theory, this doesn’t adhere to the strict tenants of USRPT in that it’s not necessarily ultra-short, doesn’t have a large number of repeats, and will likely give a swimmer more than 20 seconds rest, which might be more than strictly necessary. however, it is race-specific, it forbids you from swimming at “below pace”, and it is designed with a recovery period to ensure that swimmers can invest the amount of energy they need to swim at race pace.

        • Hulk Swim says:
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          third, almost all swimmers incorporate some elements of USRPT into their training cycle. it’s called taper. for 2-4 weeks before a big swim meet, nearly every coach increases the amount of short repeats swimmers do at race pace. is it possible that, to some degree, the reason people drop time when they taper isn’t because they’re “resting” from the impressive amount of training they did, but is instead because they’re finally giving their bodies the right kind of stimuli? just a thought.
          ______________

          this times infinity!

          • makes complete sense says:
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            Wouldn’t it be something if after all these countless sets of ungodly garage yardage the true secret to racing fast and improving was an appropriate taper? Of course you have to’taper’ from something but tons of useless freestyle yardage to drop .50 in the 100 breast? Now that doesn’t make sense. Over training in the age group years is forced performance that is simply impossible to keep up as an athlete ages hence the enormous drop off in swimmers as they age.

        • Eagleswim says:
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          From what I’ve understood about usrpt, the whole point is being “all or nothing.” As in no drills, no dry land, no warmdown etc. you can’t just say that any race pace training constitutes usrpt, as race pace training has been around forever, and I doubt anyone has a problem with it. I’m talking about the whole thing.

      • FightingOkra says:
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        @EagleSwim

        “You must accept that science is right and opinions are mostly wrong”

    • CJ flatley says:
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      Well said about the slackers!!!! They go hard for about one quarter of the workout and end up swimming fast in meets. Great point!!!

  2. bobo gigi says:
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    Wow! I don’t understand everything but it’s very interesting. Great job Becca Mann! And thank you for sharing that with us.
    Just a question. What do the most famous coaches in the world think about USRPT? Do they find that interesting or does it make them laugh?

  3. jiggsar says:
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    Powerful Becca Mann

  4. NJswimmer says:
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    Great stuff by Becca! One question I have is: are there any bigger clubs using this model? I feel it would be difficult to run a USRPT practice with 6-8 swimmers per lane.

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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      NJswimmer – there are bigger clubs using variations on USRPT, though we can’t say for sure that they’re all doing it in its purest form. We’ve got stuff lined up with some of those coaches this week to look at their twists on it, so stay tuned!

  5. Jonas says:
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    This is the future!

  6. Ben says:
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    Rushall sings a good song, but why isn’t Michael’s sister a world-beater like him? If one is only as fast as their heredity…shouldn’t Michaela be relatively as fast as Michael?

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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      Ben – Michaela has taken big chunks of time away from swimming to try other sports. That’s probably the biggest part of it.

      • Ben says:
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        Interesting. Not to draw direct comparisons, but other elites played multiple sports. Lezak with basketball, Phelps with lacrosse, Lochte with…skateboarding?

        Why doesn’t Rushall do a video interview with you guys? I’m hesitant to trust him because eh is trying to make money off this training style as opposed to any of the elite coaches you guys have had do interviews about their training.

        • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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          Sorry, elite coaches aren’t trying to make money off of their training? Not sure I follow.

          Yes, they played other sports, but Micheala took a big chunk of time out of the water and only recently got back in. I’m sure it took Lezak a while to get back into shape as well.

          • Ben says:
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            On this site, and previously on FloSwim, Garrett has sat down with some elite coaches and discussed their training styles and practices. I guess I don’t know if you pay them or not, but I assumed it was free of charge. With the buzz about Michael and USRPT, it would be interesting to hear what Rushall has to say. Becca’s blog is nice, but first hand is always better, right? But, if the only way to hear what he has to say is signing up for a conference, it makes me hesitant.

          • JC says:
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            Correct Braden,

            After taking a huge chunk of time off of swimming, she trained for a couple of weeks and swam a .27+ in a 50 free time trial at the Elite Pro-Am in OKC mid December. For a 12 year old who hasn’t trained in a long time, she’s no slouch either. This training got her race ready quickly.

      • Greg says:
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        Braden, good work.

        Are you aware of any user groups or forums where practitioners can share ideas/successes on USRPT?

        Looking more from SwimSwam on this topic.

    • Greg says:
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      Sister is just getting back into swimming after 2 years off.

      I’m at the seminar as well. We use it for our high school team. We modify some of Rushall’s program (e.g., still do drylands, power rack, aqua pacers,etc), but largely follow his suggestions for our swim sets. Time will tell, but mid-seaon times appear to be head of pace compared to last year.

    • ChestRockwell says:
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      You are missing the point. This method of training isn’t a guarantee to make anyone a world class swimmer, it is supposed to help maximize positive results for each individual.

  7. von Marshall says:
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    I absolutely understand how this training principle applies to sprinting, and it makes a lot of sense. Pablo Morales alludes to training specificity in ‘The Swim Coaching Bible’ where he talks about butterfly training.
    What I think is less clear is how this training principle applies past the 100m distance mark. I cannot comprehend how swimming 25’s and 50’s can create a physiological adaption allowing for effective technique maintenance and stroke quality over, for example, a 200m butterfly.
    I am open to explanation as I do think this training method could ultimately revolutionize the entire sport of swimming in terms of number of competitive participants and reducing burnout. I do somewhat echo Bobo Gigi’s comment of what do other leading coaches think to USRPT, I think that ‘do you what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ll always get’ works both ways. Smashing out insane mileage may not make sense for everyone but look at Michael Phelps and there is an obvious case to make for a more traditional approach (Michael Phelps is obviously not the only example but he is a very good one). Phelps broke the standing world record for the 100m free with his lead-off leg in the 2008 Olympic 4 x 100m freestyle relay.
    Ultimately I think time will tell as to whether USRPT is a viable alternative, Michael Andrew is still at an age where growth and physiological maturation may have a lot to answer for, give it five years and if his record breaking trend continues may be USRPT will go down as the ‘standard practice’ for swim coaching.

    • mcgillrocks says:
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      Phelps is not exactly famous for breaking the lap counters. He trained a somewhat traditional but advanced way, as far as I know. Also he never broke or tied the WR in the 100 freestyle.

      • Eagleswim says:
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        No, but he did go faster than than the record as it stood before the beginning of the trace, so that’s pretty arbitrary, and he does have the WR in 100 fly

        • sven says:
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          Eagle, he didn’t go faster than the existing world record at the time. That 47.51 was a national record at the time, I think that’s what you were trying to say.

          Von Marshall: As for how this applies to 200’s, the theory is that you’re putting your body in the same exact conditions that it will be in during the race in question, but taking just enough rest to refresh the oxygen supply and let the muscles replenish just enough to do it again.. but the 15-20 seconds rest isn’t enough for your body to come down from the agitated state and the conditions/chemistry in your body are effectively the same as during a 200. Since you’re giving yourself a tiny bit of rest, you can keep your body in this 200 “zone” for 20 or 30 minutes. While recovering from an intense AND prolonged stress like that, the body makes adaptations to better cope with those conditions the next time. When I think of it that way, it makes sense. I know that Peter and Michael intend to focus more on his 200 races in the coming weeks, so we’ll at least have one data point.

          I’m excited for the potential change that we might be experiencing here. Regardless of your stance on USRPT vs. traditional training, the next few years are going to be exciting.

          • Steve Nolan says:
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            I thought Phelps was under the WR in that race? But that Eamon Sullivan just beat him, so there’s the WR.

    • SprintDude9000 says:
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      Von Marshall – I think the question you should be asking yourself is: “would Phelps have swam EVEN FASTER had he trained using USRPT methods?” Unfortunately, we will never know…

      • von Marshall says:
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        sprintdude9000 – The oppsoite applies to Michael Andrews and USRPT advocates, would they actually be faster using ‘traditional’ training methods? As I said above, Andrews ‘hereditary’ growth and maturation characteristics could account for a significant factor in his performance.

        I think the best way this method can be properly evaluated is when it is applied to fully matured adult swimmers. It’s basically a scientific study so to use a subject with uncontrollable variables such as growth and puberty is not a valid way to draw conclusions.

        If USRPT was going to be critically evaluated as a case study it would be extremely flawed at this stage. That’s not to say it does not work, but the current test has too many variables simply because Michael Andrews is so young.

  8. coolbeans says:
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    very exciting and I appreciate the fresh perspective from such an accomplished athlete. what does coach Reese think about USRPT? He seems to be an innovator himself, so wondered if he too likes this training style?

    • Luke says:
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      I know, he doens’t like it. I spoke to him about it… but actually, his own current training methods are not completely different from USRPT – but not as intensive as USRPT.

  9. mcgillrocks says:
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    Some questions about the training system:

    – “In USRPT, there is no such thing as lactate tolerance or anaerobic training”

    How is this? Isn’t the principle behind lactate training to do high intensity repeats that eventually cause the build up of lactic acid, as would occur in a race? It would seem that swimming at race pace would be both anaerobic (without oxygen, because the body cannot sustain 100-200 pace for too long) and lactate causing because of the race-like intensity.

    – Why are drills damaging to world-class athletes?

    What do they do that hurts technique

    – Why is weight training considered bad?

    In almost every other power-related sport people lift weights. Football players lift weights for strength and power. Track sprinters lift weight so they can run more powerfully. Would a stronger pull not be beneficial in the same way?

    – “Total specific mileage is the criterion for beneficial training. [This contrasts with the completion of sets, total yardage, etc.]”

    Is this advocating long sets, to a point? In other words is it saying that given race pace training, would 100×50 at 100 pace (assume all were done with proper technique and goal time) be better than 10×50 at the same pace with the same technique?

    • Hulk Swim says:
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      - “Total specific mileage is the criterion for beneficial training. [This contrasts with the completion of sets, total yardage, etc.]”
      Is this advocating long sets, to a point? In other words is it saying that given race pace training, would 100×50 at 100 pace (assume all were done with proper technique and goal time) be better than 10×50 at the same pace with the same technique?

      ———–
      I think this was listed under the common thoughts and practices that violate the principle of specificity.

      • mcgillrocks says:
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        It was listed here under “Parameters for a New Program:”

        PARAMETERS FOR A NEW CONDITIONING/TRAINING PARADIGM
        -Specificity. Only race-pace or faster swimming will lead to improvements.
        -Slower swimming will produce more economical slow swimming and also produces non-specific overload (strain) and is of no benefit to racing.
        -Rest is as important as work. Thus, active rest periods need to be scheduled within practice sessions.
        -Interval training is the base model of repetition structure. It produces the most extensive specific overload aided by its repetitious nature.
        -Total specific mileage is the criterion for beneficial training. [This contrasts with the completion of sets, total yardage, etc.]

        • Hulk Swim says:
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          Sorry- misread…

          I think this’s means that the goal is the more race pace you do, the more you adapt… but that you still have to follow the guidelines of stopping at failure and building up the volume over time…

          I started this a few years back it another club… it took two years (of admittedly still miximg other stuff in) to get to the point where bot h the athletes and myself trusted this enough to go 100% at it… and we couldn’t do it for 20x50s at 200 pace right away.

          Started at 8 and worked up 2 at a time as we ‘passed’ each step.

          With my new club (as of September)… I went back to 8 and we are working up… There are a few at 16/18 now… Some are still stuck at 10 or 12… but there has been drastic improvements across the board.

    • John Mullen says:
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      - “In USRPT, there is no such thing as lactate tolerance or anaerobic training”

      From my discussions, Dr. Rushall there is no specific set focusing on lactate tolerance or anaerobic training (except for perhaps 50-m/y swimmers), as these sets start by taxing the alactacid system, followed stressing the neural, lactate, and aerobic system. These systems do work simultaneously, a common confusion is that one type of training only works one energetic system, when in fact the multiple systems interact together. Also, just because a coach has a “lactate set” doesn’t mean this will even be maximally taxed, often neural failure is the limiting factor.

      – Why are drills damaging to world-class athletes?
      This works on the theory that motor learning and neuroplasticity is impaired by similar movements. In world-class athletes, they are attempting to make slight adjustments to their ingrained biomechanics and perhaps performing similar movements will interfere with this motor learning.

      I haven’t found a lot of controlled studies on this, but there are little to no studies on world class athletes (especially one’s in such a skilled sport).

      – Why is weight training considered bad?
      Other sports are way different. Ground-based athletes use ground-reaction force to to generate power and speed. In swimming, the sport is highly skilled, and as mentioned, mostly influenced by biomechanics. Weight training is often performed in high volumes, creating soreness and impairing biomechanics. Even if weight training doesn’t cause soreness it can take away from swimming, physically and mentally. These are potentially reasons why USRPT doesn’t support dry-land.

      – “Total specific mileage is the criterion for beneficial training. [This contrasts with the completion of sets, total yardage, etc.]”
      USRPT supports overload, as overload and failure are necessary for maximal motor learning. It is unlikely performing 100×50 at 100 pace is impossible, unless performed with high rest, which is very time consuming and not stressing the various energetics to their maximum (it likely stresses more anaerobic and neural stress, not as involved in most swim races).

      • mcgillrocks says:
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        > ” From my discussions, Dr. Rushall there is no specific set focusing on lactate tolerance or anaerobic training (except for perhaps 50-m/y swimmers), as these sets start by taxing the alactacid system, followed stressing the neural, lactate, and aerobic system. These systems do work simultaneously, a common confusion is that one type of training only works one energetic system, when in fact the multiple systems interact together. Also, just because a coach has a “lactate set” doesn’t mean this will even be maximally taxed, often neural failure is the limiting factor. ” <

        Would I be correct in saying that it works lactate, but is not specifically designed as a lactate set?

    • von marshall says:
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      It says somewhere in the article that when the set is completed at the targeted metrics, the challenge is increased with more difficult metrics – faster splits, lower stroke rate/count etc

  10. Marc Danin says:
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    WELL DOCUMENTED!!

  11. Anonymous says:
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    This sounds vaguely familiar to what I did at a DI school in the late 90s. No drag suits, no dryland, no weights, no doubles after December break, low volume, high intensity 4/6 practices a week on mod-long rest…

    Great duel meet season and we always tapered like crap and got owned at conf. across the board of strokes & distances.

    Not saying it’s wrong, but it should be handled very cautiously – the primary thing I take from the notes is that “this is not intended for beginners” which to me assumes that an athlete doing this type of work has a fairly substantial amount of capacity/development.

    • John Mullen says:
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      It could be similar, but I doubt it is the same form of training. The USRPT uses multiple practices a day and much more race pace then I’ve ever seem documented, even more than Coach Termin (who is the first person I’ve seen document it).

      The main reason “this is not intended for beginners” is that beginners need more work on technique and having fun in the sport. Dr. Rushall breaks down what each swimmer should focus on relative to their age in this document.
      http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/bullets/47GUIDE.pdf

      • Anonymous says:
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        Actually, you just nailed the program…didn’t know I was being that obvious.

        In any case Michael Andrew is going to be an interesting phenomena to watch. I’m sure that his type of program has worked for world class athletes, and he is extremely good, but far from world class. It will be interesting to see if an athlete that was brought up/developed in this type of program can be successful long term and eventually at the world class level.

      • Budd Termin says:
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        So I have received quite a few messages today about John’s reference to our work with high intensity training.

        We did 15 years of in-depth direct measurement of our swimmers on VO^2 max, lactic acid accumulation, swimming technique and rate of improvement while utilizing a high intensity model. All of the changes in these parameters produced by the high intensity model were compared with known changes in VO^2 max, lactic acid accumulation, swimming technique and performance improvements for swimmers of similar age using more traditional training methods. (Basically 18 to 22 years) The data were for men only and included a wide variety of talent levels. Our campus is home to one of the best state of the art swimming flumes in the world and our high intensity training model was created around the “evidenced based” findings from our measurements. The goal of this research was to develop a training model that would result in the largest improvements for our swimmers. It was the findings from our measurements that lead us to the high intensity method, not a predisposed philosophy.

        For those of you interested in evidenced based coaching, many of the questions about the longitudinal physiological, bio-mechanical, and performance improvements swimmers might experience utilizing this form of training can be found by reading a paper we published in the Journal of Swimming Research that covered a 4 year period.

        http://www.teamtermin.com/docs/Journal_Swimming_Research_Stroke_Freq_Velociity_Relationships.pdf

        Respectfully

        Budd Termin
        TeamTermin Sports Performance

  12. "Traditional Coach" says:
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    I like all of this for sprinters, but how does this work for your distance swimmers? Mainly the 1500m and 1650 swimmers. Also how does one training like this taper?

    • TJ says:
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      Also curious about how this affects distance swimmers. But I do not believe Michael Andrew tapers at all.

      • PsychoDad says:
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        Dave Salo advocates low yardage fast pace training. He does taper his swimmers.

        • Hulk Swim says:
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          my understanding after reading Salo is that ‘taper’ a relative term…

          • PsychoDad says:
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            From Salo’s paper on “Teaching Breaststroke:”

            The taper phase, also known as the fine-tune phase of our season, occurs over the final ten days prior to major competition. During this period, the yardage drops almost immediately to 2,000 to 3,500 yards with more focus on long, stretched-out swimming with interspersed periods of fast, intense, short swims. I don’t time pace 50s, etc., as this is a period we fine-tune the starts, turns and stroke timing. Also, a great deal of time is spent through the last month and a half on relaxation and visual imagery training.

          • Hulk Swim says:
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            How much are they doing during the ‘normal’ phase? About 3,500-4,000 if I remember correctly, so it’s hardly a ‘taper’. It’s a fine-tune, or a meet preperation phase.

            You can’t really ‘taper’ from 4,000y a day.

  13. aswimfan says:
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    Just curious, where did that Gold Medal Mel’s article about Phelps comeback go??

    Did Phelps or his agent call and asked for the article to be pulled down?

  14. PsychoDad says:
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    Super slow swimming and drills did not hurt Alex Popov. There is a lot of good ideas here and a bunch of unsupported claims that do not make any sense, such as “drills are harmful to elite swimmers.” I believe in balance and technique and drills when done properly – the problem in USA Swimming is lack of “technique enforcement” by AG coaches. Every good program does sprints and race pace training as part of preparation for meets. You technique has to be perfect to disregard drills, and Michael’s is far from perfect.

  15. Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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    Quick note – we’ve reformatted the above post to hopefully make it a little easier to read. No substantive information has changed, however.

    • Hulk Swim says:
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      Braden,

      Thanks for posting this…

      Becca/Randy,

      Thanks for being open to new ideas, and being willing to share with the rest of us.

      Braden/Becca/Randy… SMASH.

  16. dead says:
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    I am in the midst of 6 hours 15000+/day for the past week and am so bored sore and tired. I really wish my college team did stuff like that

    • TheRoboticRichardSimmons says:
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      Just curious – what events do you swim?

      • dead says:
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        both the butterflies. Probably the 500 although maybe 2 IM instead.

        • Tea says:
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          As a former butterflier with a traditional 2000s-era training background, I would say “watch out”.
          There can be some benefit to doing the occasional 1,000 fly or 8,000 free set to build mental toughness, confidence, and push your body to see where its limits are.
          But on the whole, my 100/200 butterfly were the fastest when I focused on training for the 100/200 fly instead of proving how big my balls were in practice. I never went nearly as strictly-orthodox as this USRPT, but I can say that swimming “survival butterfly” (where you’ve lost all momentum and are just trying to wrench your arms out of the water) often does more harm than good. It kills your shoulders and gets you used to swimming with your hips feeling like they are 3 feet underwater. When you finally rest and feel good, you feel like you are discovering a new stroke. Taper is NOT the time to be learning new stroke mechanics, and good butterfly mechanics are pretty much impossible to practice when you are “dead”.

  17. NDB says:
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    Thanks for sharing, Becca!

  18. nyswimfan says:
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    Isn’t it great to be in a country where differing ideas are allowed? Time and time again throughout the history of sport (including swimming) when those in power take the approach everyone else’s opinion is wrong and there is only one way, it has led to diminished success. I applaud the academic effort put forth here but caution the attitude taken that everyone else is wrong. I also await enough of a pool of success to validate these theories-yes I said theories. Until we start tabulating world records for lab rats or giving as much credence to relative success tabulated on a spread sheet, it is a theory. Might be a great one but as long as your poster child is one of a kind 6ft 4 man child and you have no one winning internationally or with true proven success, I will listen intently to see where an edge may be gained in the application of these theories for certain athletes but I will not abandon my thoroughly scorned “traditional” “opinions.”

    • Hulk Swim says:
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      I’m not specifically responding to you, but to all those who argue the point that Michael Andrew can’t be used as an example as he’s 6’4″ and a freak…

      So aren’t MOST of these elite guys from ALL systems and methods of training. Ryan Hoffer isn’t small. Caleb Dressel isn’t lacking natural gifts. Michael Phelps isn’t a 5’9″ kid who was MADE into some stud by doing tons of volume. Aaron Piersol was a big kid. Ian Crocker did some serious volume training as a younger swimmer and he was quite large for his age, so does that mean we can toss out volume training as a means for everyone, since he was so tall?

      Forget his size. It’s about maximizing individual potential. A squarely (i.e. THICK) built 5’8″ 14 year old kid wouldn’t be as fast as Michael Andrew no matter how EITHER of them trained.

      I’m not saying that 5’9″ squat guys can’t be successful in swimming, just that their ultimate cieling is theoretically lower than the 6’5″ lean guy.

      And before anyone argues to point, ask yourself why most college coaches start conversations by asking for athletes height. It matters.

    • jman says:
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      I agree that the attitude that ‘everything else is wrong’ is harmful for any athlete. Training specificity is important, but can come in many, many different forms.Human physiology is not an exact science and there will never be a ‘one size fits all’ training regimen….not even for an individiual. In a kid like Andrews with strong family support, training in his home, very focussed, a physiologic freak, obvious talent, etc. there will be great outcomes from any type of solid training regimen. I can’t say for certain, but i think he will be limited in the future based on this type of training because it is so specific.

      • GC says:
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        Sometimes things are better. The attitude that “we should do all kinds of training because everyone is different” is a dangerous one. I think the USRP training is based of science – which really isn’t that different from person to person. I think “the everyone is different” attitude like getting the right answer to a math problem using the wrong equation. You have to be careful. Unless you are a physical abnormality science for human functioning is pretty much the same. I really don’t know why everyone is so afraid to follow this. I know people hold on to their beliefs and it would be horrifying to find out they could have been giving better training – but then wouldn’t it be good to change as quickly as possible? Why do the same old thing? I think it is great to look yourself in the face and try something that just might be the future of the sport.

        • jman says:
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          I don’t think there is any ‘dangerous’ thinking here. You are correct that in general human physiology is equal. But there is the range of normal and a range of abilities based on hereditary make-up. In the clinical world of exercise physiology there is something called the ‘art of exercise prescription’. This term and application recognizes these differences in clinical patients. And the same exists for healthy, young individuals. I am certainly not saying this training should not be used…in fact i think it is to some degree used in most programs when race paced training is performed. But so work in a vacuum of USRPT, i think, will limit an individual. This really is based on the message that Dr. Rushall provided that USRPT is, “not theories, but deductions made from scientific work.”
          So too is more traditional training methods and the wide range of other training currently being used in swimming.

          • GC says:
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            It is “dangerous” to think everything will work and to do it on assumptions. You assume too much when you don’t back things up with science.

            Using a term like “the art of exercise prescription” you are using the term that is very broad in a very specific situation. The term is most commonly used to describe getting the correct diagnosis – not specific to UNIQUE situations (I.E. not exact things being different). I think you need to look back on the term.

            Also, I love the assumption that USRP is “limiting.” The science does not seem to back that up. If someone can show me science that proves it is limiting then I am in.

            Swimmers are not asked to get punched in the face, correct? No one would every suggest this – it is not part of swimming training. Maybe, just maybe, USRP is what should be done…and swimming lots of yards in any instance is the punch in the face? I don’t know but I do know science backs it up… you have to open your mind to the possibility.

          • GC says:
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            Also, the “range of normal” is totally in the science. Unless you breath water or have a physical disability – USRP is well within the range of normal.

  19. Free-Thinker says:
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    “The first 4-6 repetitions are unsettled physiologically. This occurs because the set begins after a rest.”

    If we are sticking to the law of specificity, why do the swimmers get 4-6 50’s to adjust physiologically when in a race, they have to get going after rest as well?

  20. CowboyCoach says:
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    I’ve started using some of these ideas with my swimmers and really love what I see each time. However…
    Rushall does come off as arrogant and disrespectful to all the work done by coaches over the years. I especially love the quote “only race pace or faster swimming will lead to improvements”. The missing piece of Rushall’s work seems to be explaining just how swimmers and coaches have succeeded without his help over the years.
    I like the information Rushall presents and will continue to use many of the ideas (new ideas are great), but I’m not ready to condemn all other methods of training. I’ve read most of Rushall’s writings online & he definitely seems to be saying that every coach not using his methods is coaching incorrectly. His diplomacy skills could use some work.

    • GC says:
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      He is just coming from science – not swimming. He only deals in scientific data. It hurts to hear but he really cares about that aspect over our feelings. He absolutely comes off as arrogant…I am just not sure that matters if he is correct….

    • Tea says:
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      Well put.

      I like many of the ideas Rushall puts forth, and I appreciate that they are based in science. Most of what he preaches also makes sense to me intuitively – when I look back at what worked or didn’t work for me in training, much of it aligns with his principles.

      BUT – Rushall often comes across as a self-promoting contrarian. He seems quicker to dismiss coaches with 30 years of trial-and-error experience than he does to listen and incorporate their wisdom. One often gets the impression that Rushall believes he has identified all possible variables in swimming and human physiology, and built them into a formula that derives the Correct Way of Training.

      I suspect he is more of a clumsy communicator than truly arrogant, so I don’t want to pile on. It just bothers me that:
      1. He describes strict adherence to USRPT as the ONLY way to maximize a swimmer’s potential.
      2. He insists strictly-USRPT training is the best approach based on a theory that has been tested on a sample size of essentially zero.
      3. He has never applied this method to distance training, but still never admits (that I’m aware of) that his training methods are geared towards sprinters.
      4. I understand that he is still trying to make his training philosophy widespread enough to get real data on it, but he tends to state things UNEQUIVOCALLY that everyone has anecdotes to counter (what about the swimmer who always seems to hit their peak 5-7,000 yds into a practice? Who is recovering from an injury? Who has matured physically, and their old stroke isn’t working anymore? Who wants to try swimming straight-arm freestyle?)

      • CowboyCoach says:
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        TEA, your point #2 is a BIG one!

      • Free-Thinker says:
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        I’m on the same page as you for most of this, but “what about the swimmer who always seems to hit their peak 5-7,000 yds into a practice?”

        Do they warm up that much at meets? If they are trained to hit their peak with so much volume, how will they swim fast at a meet?

  21. Tony says:
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    I don’t think you can underestimate the value of his age and physical maturation. He wakes up each day and is better because he is still growing. At some point, this will obviously stop. When the growth and physical maturation process stops is when he will need to draw on his aerobic capacity background when doing race pace sets. They are not mutually exclusive. You can have more successful speed and race pace training when you have a strong aerobic capacity than trying to do it without.

    I also completely disagree with the comment about weights and dryland. Good luck trying to be competitive on the world stage in any event 200 on down.

    • NMCoach says:
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      How many of us have 6’4″ 14 year olds in our programs?

    • Hulk Swim says:
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      The same could be said for Max Miranda, Reece Whitley, etc.

      Using your arguement, I could say that I’m not sold on doing lots of ‘work’ since those guys are so big for their age and that can’t be discounted.

      • SprintDude9000 says:
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        HULK SWIM – Excellent point, nailed it!

      • NMCoach says:
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        Actually…the argument is…USRPT is being used successfully on an incredibly gifted, Early developed athlete and the results are supposed to correlate to everyone else. That’s the argument.

        • Hulk Swim says:
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          USRPT was an idea long before Michael Andrew was even a 10 year old… I first got the link to Rushall papers in 2009. I first heard about some fast 12 year old in 2010.

          They aren’t using Michael Andrew to prove the theory, he’s just the most high profile athlete known to train this way who’s also a strict adherent to the theory and who consults with Rushall seemingly quite often.

        • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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          NMCoach – as I mentioned in an earlier comment, Michael Andrew is not the only swimmer on the planet using USRPT. Several large clubs (more on that later) are also using it.

          This is not to say it’s the only solution, rather it is to say that Michael Andrew is not the only one using it.

          • NMCoach says:
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            Braden,

            I agree with you about Michael. However, the basis for this as explained to me by Dr. Rushall himself, was that he used this method in the 1960s in Austrailia and it was successful…however, anyone familiar with training methods in the early 60s = mile swim, mile kick, mile pull and tomorrow we’ll do it faster. In the early 60s, race pace training didn’t exist. So that method WOULD be superior to anything else being used at that time.

            There’s no denying that this training works for some people…but so do the training methods of Schubert-Baurle-Eddie Reese-Urbancek, etc. And to completely dismiss the success that those coaches have had and continue to have is a joke.

            Anyone that thinks that Salo’s program is similar to USRPT has no clue what he actually does with his distance swimmers.

            Bottom Line — USRPT will work, but NOT for all swimmers in all events and “traditional” training will work, but again, NOT for all swimmers in all events.

            The other thing that NO ONE is talking about is how Dr. Rushall says that USRPT is not for people that swim the 50 because the 50 is a completely different animal. That statement came directly from him.

  22. Matthew says:
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    Props to Becca. So cool and positive to see you trying new things!

  23. 0
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    Becca’s blog is a great way to present this information and stimulate discussion! I’m just getting familiar with USRPT, but it has some important things in common with the effective training I’ve been doing over the past two years.

    Dr. Rushall is definitely onto something important, but from Becca’s notes, he seems to embrace absolutes a bit too much for my taste.

    USRPT is not a theory? That’s too bad. From Wiki: “Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge…A theory does not change into a scientific law with the accumulation of new or better evidence. A theory will always remain a theory; a law will always remain a law.”

    One of the crucial underpinnings of the strength of scientific method is that it is open to revision when new information becomes available. When Rushall frames his ideas as indisputable fact, the door is closed. If USRPT becomes just a new dogma replacing an old one, that would be sad. Although I enthusiastically agree with his basic theory (yes, it is a theory), I don’t agree with all of it, particularly his wholesale dismissal of dry land training. And from my very limited exposure to USRPT theory, it seems to neglect an array of other behaviors that profoundly affect performance. Pool training is only one component of a much larger picture.

    • anonymous says:
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      I wish I had the bulletin or bulletin(s) to reference but…I seem to remember that Dr. Rushall’s bad attitude about dryland is not universal. If I remember correctly, he has referenced the importance of strength training for Masters swimmers and he quoted a study. If I am successful in finding where he said that then I will reply to your post another time.

    • anonymous says:
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      well said!

    • anonymous says:
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      http://www.40plussports.com/research.php?AID=13

      There you go.

      He has so many writings that the number of people who think that they know what Rushall thinks is much less than the number who actually know what he thinks.

      • 0
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        What the referenced article says is that dryland strength training may be beneficial for older novices who are exremely weak (too weak to gain strength from swimming) but not for the typical Masters swimmer. So I’m pretty sure that Rushall doesn’t believe that there’s a benefit from dryland strength training for experienced competitive swimmers, regardless of age.

    • TheRoboticRichardSimmons says:
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      here here. any good swim coach will lead first with the scientific method and leave dogma at the door. form a hypothesis, conduct an experiment, and measure results to see if your hypothesis is proved.

  24. Tim Henrich says:
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    This is great I am glad that Brent now has a chance to coach swimming.

  25. John Sampson says:
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    How does this training system work with tapering? is there still a taper?

    and again like others have asked, how do distance swimmers train with this system?

  26. swimK says:
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    Thanks for doing this!
    1. “The restriction from training for butterfly.” I hope not completely. What is the restriction? And how is fly trained, for both 100 and 200 (how often? same kind of sets: 10 x 50?), etc?

    2. If pace is calculated by quartering races (50s @ pace for a 200, 25s for a 100), how are the 200 and 400 IM prepared for? 50s of Fly/Back, Back/Breast, Breast/Free? 100 IMs?

    • anonymous says:
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      The restriction is to avoid 50s in training if there will be hand smashing. He really likes shorter distances for fly training – essentially 25s or shorter. He thinks technique falls apart if long distances are trained.

      • Tea says:
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        Hahaha… a really mundane, but often overlooked point.
        If you train in a small pool, butterfly is REALLY HARD to do well with a lot of swimmers.

        “Alright, everyone! We’re doing 10x50s fly! We’re doing them at 100 fly pace, except be sure to keep your hands between your elbows so you don’t clock the kid next to you!”

  27. Rotarycoach says:
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    You know it is great to have new and differing opinions thrown out there and see what systems others have had success with. Nothing but good things can come with more knowledge being fed to coaches and swimming minds…

    HOWEVER: As many others have noted here, there are just too many dogmatic things in here to make it easy to digest. I mean, I don’t know of another coach (in any sport) who would agree that zero drill and skill work is a sound strategy. Also I have found that as a coach in this day and age it is more important than ever that kids get a competent dryland program started that progresses as they move to the national level. I mean the real goal of nearly everyone reading this is to have the most good results for the most number of swimmers on a team, in a country, in the world. I am afraid I just can’t even envision a swimming world where everyone stopped doing dryland. I feel pretty certain that would derail more kids swimming careers than the ones it would help. Does anyone think that the US would have ANYONE on the international level in a 400 or above if everyone did this? Not I.

    Finally, No disrespect to this kid, but we are really basing the success of this on one talented 14 year old boy who is obviously more physically developed than 99.9 percent of guys his age. If Michael were say 17 or 18, there wouldn’t be the hoopla.

    But hey, like I said, it is good to stretch the minds of coaches out there and see what works for certain athletes! Chances are if you are a good coach then you can add this to your toolbox for the next kid that comes through your program that looks like they might respond well to it. I know that I will keep this under my hat!

    • Hulk Swim says:
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      RotaryCoach,

      I’m finding my athletes make great changes when we race 15m in our dive well… much better than in full pool racing or slowed down drilling. I tend to race 15m about 2-3x per week as ‘recovery’ days… we do between 30-60 of them. When doing these, I’m extremely aware of their technique and have 2-3 coaches watching 10-12 kids and are constantly giving feedback.

      They can make the change, do it at high speeds, and then transfer it the next day into a race pace set in the 25y pool.

  28. 0
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    Kieren Perkins did a lot of race pace training (under 1:00 per 100) and HALF of the volume that the Americans were doing at the time. I recall he swam a 14:45 on 10-12k per day.

    • Rotarycoach says:
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      That is an absolutely true statement that he was doing far less than Americans at this time, and WAY faster swimming, which lends some credence to this, however we are talking about volumes here that are less than half of what you quoted there. A quick google search of some litterature show him hitting 88K meters per week… definitely not in the same vein as this.

      At any rate, what decades of coaching teaches you is that there are always outliers… Some swimmers are going to be stupid fast no matter what you throw in front of them. So my point is that I personally would encourage people to proceed with caution, mostly due the nature of “this has to be done this way” that the information is being presented.

      • Hulk Swim says:
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        That’s not true- if you read this document (http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/bullets/47GUIDE.pdf), someone training for the 1500m would do up to 30x100s then do some recovery and then do up to 30x100s again…

        Let’s just say a typical elite distance swimmer trains 12x per week. Now say you average 25x100s each time before double failure, and do 1500m race pace two times a workout 8x per week and 25x50s 400m race pace two times a workout 4x per week… That alone is 60,000m at race pace per week… Then you add in all the recovery yards and time spent working on turns, etc. I’d say you’d get to that 85-90k area easily.

        It’s tough to compare what the Andrews are doing to what a distance swimmer would do…They are clearly NOT training Michael to race the 1500.

        It would appear to me they are looking at him as a 100/200 athlete, across all 4 strokes, and are training him as such.

  29. swim dad says:
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    This article does point out something that has always puzzled me. Why do do most of the kids on my daughter’s swim team rarely improve throughout the scy season. Most swim pr’s in October/November then slog through a frustrating championship season in March. It sure makes all the doubles during the holidays seem worthless. Meanwhile, the coach justifies all this yardage by saying the big payoff of thousands and thousands of yards will be in 3-4 years from now. After all “we’re just laying a baee”. Might be true but few kids stick around the extra 4 years because it’s BORING and leaves no time for anything else. If nothing else, maybe a hybrid of Rushalls theory would cut two hours of swimming a day out of a five hour in the pool day (doubles) and allow these kids time to do something else.

    • PsychoDad says:
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      Swim Dad, this is Psycho Swim Dad. I will help :).

      There is actually a system that can cut 2 hours of swimming a day, it is called – skip the damn practice. It is all about fundamentals and patience. Have your daughter work on technique ALL the time and do not worry about short term results. I limit practices for our 11 year old twins to 3 in Sept/October, 4 in November and December, and 5 January and February. Never 6 per week. Work on technique all the time. They peak in March and keep improving all year. Maybe your daughter is 14+ and stopped growing and that can be frustrating, but then it is time to step back and work on technique. Swimming is never boring if social aspect of swimming is worked out and if they keep improving. Again, great Eddie Reese said it right: “Burnout happens when you stop improving.” Yardage has nothing to do with burnout.

      This, and do not listen to coaches – most of them have no idea what they are talking about or doing for that matter.

      • Hulk Swim says:
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        Oh, Psychodad… I’ve got nothing left…

        • scott says:
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          My daughter is 12 and has not gone through puberty yet. I put my foot down on doubles at the age of 10 up to now. Most of her contemporaries take constant ice baths for their aching injured shoulders but the “base” they’ve put down that my daughter hasn’t might come back to haunt me. Just joking, of course.
          The truth is single sport specialization rarely pays off at this young age. Andrews probably could’ve been a stand out anything with his early maturation and size. Goalie on the local 12-u soccer team. Think he could bust a few homers in the little league? Pitcher extraordinaire to the 4’11” hairless wonders at the plate. Today he could probably throw the javelin better than any other 14 year old in US. For the rest of us “average” people with “average sized kids”, it’s truly only luck if the sport you choose to double down on at age 9 completely fits the body type of your young athlete as they age. (Disclaimer: I happen to be above average in height at 6’5″. 12 year old is 5’4″)

      • SprintDude9000 says:
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        “Yardage has nothing to do with burnout”…you’re trolling, right?

        • PsychoDad says:
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          Burnout is mental, not physical.

          • swim mom says:
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            You get mentally burned out because you’re bored to death and physically exhausted.

          • SprintDude9000 says:
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            PSYCHODAD – So what you’re saying is that (for example) exercise-induced chronic fatigue syndrome is mental and not a form of physical burnout? (Don’t get me wrong, mental burnout is something that is very real but implying that all burnout is mental is just plain incorrect.)

          • Tea says:
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            Burnout CAN be mental, please don’t say it’s ONLY “mental, not physical” flatly. That is just degrading kids who do WAY more physical activity in a day than most adults do in a week.

            Obviously, it can be both… mental and physical are connected, especially at young ages. When you fall asleep in homeroom because you swam 6,000 yards at 4am, then spend the afternoon in detention making up the work… does that constitute mental or physical burnout?

            More bluntly, please don’t tell me that kids getting rotator cuff surgery at 19 (or 15) are just not mentally tough enough.

  30. Swimmer says:
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    I would be very pleased if you could answer my questions. So if I’m a 50m sprint swimmer, how much volume(metres) performed at 50m race pace is beneficial every day? And do you do sets like this every day or do you have some recovery days?

    • 0
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      Hi Swimmer, I can give you a general answer relating to what seems to be working for me personally (it isn’t specific to USRPT but is highly influenced by my interpretation of Prof. Rushall’s research).

      Generally I’ve found that completing a minimum of 3 x race distance (150m or more) at 50m race pace (for each stroke that I race in competition) broken down into sets of short hypoxic sprints (for example 8 x 20m) and performed 5-6 times a week (with adequate recovery) have helped improve my own sprint swimming considerably. In one of his papers Rushall talks about muscle memory and the fact that for most people neuromuscular patterns start to decay rapidly after a period of approx. 48 hours; for this reason I feel it is unwise to go beyond 48 hours without completing one of these sets. So, in the context of your question; yes, you can include recovery days so long as you don’t spend too much time (eg. 48 hours of longer) avoiding swimming at your intended race pace.

      (ps. I am in my mid-20s now and swam up to 40’000m – 60’000m per week between the ages of 15 and 17 in a high performance programme, then quit swimming for 7 years. I swim much faster over the sprints now (25.9 for 50m butterfly and 24.0 for 50m free) than I did back then (averaging around 27.7 mid-season, 26.8 tapered for 50m fly and 25.5 mid-season and 24.6 tapered for 50m free) despite the fact that my current weekly yardage rarely exceeds 8000m (though the weekly yardage I perform at 50m race pace has increased by over 800%). My height and weight are identical now to what they were when I quit the 60’000m weekly programme at 17.)

  31. HISWIMCOACH says:
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    I hope some day I get the opportunity to coach Psycho Swim Dad’s children. He seems to have so much respect for swim coaches!!

  32. oldschoolc says:
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    One of the best things coaches could do is go to Rushall’s website and read the references on a number of the questions that have been discussed. Just type his name it’ll come up.

    The examples are just average kids. Right at 5:00 in the 500 and 18+ 1650.

    The question on ‘working with distance swimmers” It will. used 20 x 75 on 1:05, holding 44.37 to 45.00 as target time followed by technical skill work i.e turns, underwater work and regaining balance,(skills that will apply to next set) usually 8-10 minutes. Then 20 x 100 at 1650 pace 1:03.84-1:07.50 as target time this is done 3 x per week with number made recorded with the goal of making more at pace each week. The same process with 400IMers used 30 x 25 fly as the stroke does decay over distance and they just hold better technical skills. Then 18-20 x 75s for Ba, Br and 100s free these are done at 400IM pace (taken from splits at meet) and broken down into whatever distance you want to swim,(any spreadsheet with do the arithmetic) all with 15-20 sec rest and 3 x per week. Not exactly a sprint workout

    The group is usually in the 63-77% range of race pace to total volume of work. No pulling, kicking or dryland.

    I think the key is travel at race pace and to let them stop when they can no longer hold pace. You can move to a short distance during the set i.e.from 75s to 50s, just be on pace and record the number of 75s before switching to 50s. Looking for improvement in holding speed over the distance.

    Couple of interesting observations:
    1. Is they are not all beat up using this system. we did over 43 race performance sets over break usually 2 in the am and 3-4 in the pm and had little or no soreness, illness or injury.
    2. If you record the numbers you have a pretty good idea who will swim well and those that are going to say struggle.

    Just some thoughts

  33. testudo says:
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    How is recovery worked into a typical week? Does he take complete days off or have sessions dedicated to active rest? How many sessions or days in a row can a swimmer maintain the intensity until a recovery day is needed/recommended?

    • Hulk Swim says:
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      I am finding that ‘recovery’ days actually end up just throwing the athletes for a loop and I am tempted to cut them entirely out… they do just fine with race pace work 3, 4 and 5 days in a row… I only have 1 workout per day, and have yet to ask them to do 6 straight days but the few times I’ve gone 5 days end up just the same across all 5 days.

      I think if the athletes are honest with their times and do the fail/double fail procedure right, they always stop when they need to, and there is never a need for a recovery day as there is no need to recover.

      • anonymous says:
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        see Sean Hutchison circa 2008 with KING from FloSwimming workout/interview.

        He’s quoted as, “we do something fast every day”. That began to change my approach to training, as did his nueroplasticity work (if you haven’t gotten your hands on Ikkos, YOU NEED TO!). Though the foundation I utilize is aerobic as every race is over :17 seconds and is therefore aerobic based…in addition, I view my position as developing kids to excel at the collegiate level, and my philosophy is that they need a solid foundation based primarily in aerobic fitness and technique, as well as anaerobic and race pace/performance in order to achieve and succeed at the collegiate level. But according to this article I’m an idiot for addressing these things, especially separately (sorry, snarky comment).

        I don’t think this means you need to or should do something race pace or race specific everyday…but there are a million ways to move fast that can simultaneously rest the primary systems that you utilized the previous day, or will you in subsequent days.

        This has a lot of good points…but I am wary of any thought, idea, or principle that is totalitarian or autocratic. But I would also consider myself an “artistic” coach that likes to experiment with physiology, so I am already biased towards this research/principal. SO BEWARE.

    • oldschoolc says:
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      The recovery is built in. Remember it’s only what they can do and they may not make all 20 x 100 of a set or whatever distance, that’s the beauty of the system. Much of the feedback from the swimmes is tired. But not exhausted.

      Again we did 43 race performace sets over break. they had 2 afternoons off along with Christmas and New Year’s Day. Their numbers made stayed very steady with the majority of the group improving (I think the reason no external stressors “no school” and able to rest)

  34. FA says:
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    I’m old enough to remember the last time someone tried a scheme like this. It wiped out middle and distance swimming for years.I think we will stick to what we know. I think everyone out there that thinks this is great should convert their training plans tomorrow to get a head start for long course season.

    • Free-Thinker says:
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      Did the last “scheme” have such seemingly sound science backing it up? The literature behind these ideas is compelling.

  35. psychodad says:
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    … and this one has sound science behind it, huh? Let me quote again Eddie Reese: “I have no idea if any of this I do actually works.” If good doctor here prefaced his teachings with such a quote I would take him much more seriously. Otherwise his “drills are evil” claims are ridicilous.

    • Hulk Swim says:
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      Yes… this… When I went looking for my doctor, I made sure he had a note up on his wall next to his degrees and diplomas that said “I’m not sure if any of this works”.

  36. BD says:
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    I believe that most successful coaches have elements of usrpt within their programs. It is a paradigm that lends itself to all strokes and distances. One would be foolish to think it is “the” answer to fast swimming. Rather, it is an answer when implemented with the correct athlete at the appropriate time in his or her season or career in the correct dose(s).

    A few more questions…

    -How does one determine ideal pace? I once heard an athlete come up to Bob Bowman and say, “I cannot hit my pace.” To which he replied, “then maybe it is not your pace”. Too slow and they do not get the effect of overreaching. Too fast and they are not yet equipped to succeed.

    -if adaptation is measured by the increased number of repeats. How does one avoid accomodation?

    -How does one determine when a new pace is needed other than achieving a new best time?

    -If adaptation is not a linear proposition (and, it is not), then how does one plan for peak performances vs random performances assuming that peak performance is more important?

    -Are there any qualities (preferably swimming related) that would “potentiate” one’s ability to more readily thrive in a usrpt type program? Genetics or innate ability would not be a good answer (Ironically, these are referenced as possible reasons why some athletes have a high anaerobic capacity by Jan Olbrecht).

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts or feedback.

  37. Bossanova says:
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    Swimming does not really build muscle. It’s not load bearing. Look at world class sprinters like Manaudou, Bousquet, Bernard, Gary Hall Jr, Magnussen… they’re huge! Clearly, Andrews is physically gifted, but is he going to be strong enough to be the best of the best with just this type of training? I don’t think it is enough, but I guess we’ll see.

    • Tea says:
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      That is a problem with this regimented philosophy. I have never seen a top-tier sprinter who didn’t lift weights to grow their muscular capacity.

      USRPT is an interesting idea, but to-date no one I know of has become a world-class sprinter without lifting weights.

  38. Heading on 30 says:
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    Sorry this seems unrelated, but I don’t see a more appropriate article for this story:

    As a kid, I went to Zone swim meets with many promising age-groupers. One of them was a guy named Michael Phelps who made me look like a gutted fish in the pool… I wonder where that kid ended up? Anyway, there was another guy (remaining nameless) who beat Phelps in multiple events, and I think won the overall high-point trophy a couple times.

    When I was 13, I approached this guy. Looking up (literally) at my 6′ 5″ competitor, I asked him to sign my cap, which he graciously did before destroying me in the 100 fly. A teammate had a cap signed by Tracy Caulkins, Anita Nall, and Summer Sanders, which I thought was the coolest thing in the world; someday this guy might be the next Caulkins or Nall, and that cap would be worth something.

    I think that giant kid went on to swim a couple years at a mid-level D-I school like UNC or Notre Dame, but never made NCAAs or Olympic Trials. Funny… I never thought to ask the #2 swimmer at that meet for his autograph – that Phelps guy could have had something the early-developed kid didn’t.

  39. sven says:
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    I was at the clinic in Lawrence these past two days. I’ve got to say, as far as training methods for 100’s and 200’s, I’m totally on board. I don’t like that he presents his theories as being set-in-stone facts, and I can’t help but feel that some of it is him being deliberately abrasive. I won’t speculate as to why.

    I think the longer you can expose your body to race conditions, the more it will adapt to coping with those stresses, and I think that the USRPT model is an effective way to approach this. We covered this on the first day, and most of what we went over resonated with me (Re: weights/dryland: I do think that weights are overrated for the most part, but I think they have their place. I absolutely can’t agree with the assertion that increasing one’s vertical jump on land would not positively affect explosiveness off of walls simply because the body is in water and the orientation is 90 degrees off.)

    That said, day two was a letdown. It was mostly technique oriented, so I was excited. Most of what Dr. Rushall said was good to decent advice, although probably nothing a club coach with 3 years of experience isn’t already teaching. There were a few instances, however, where the things he was advocating just didn’t make sense to me no matter how much he insisted that science is behind it.

    One of these was breathing every other stroke on breaststroke. The justification was that it allows the swimmer to stay lower in the water, increase stroke rate, and save energy. I’ve always seen the height attained by good breaststrokers as a method of sliding the hips forward without dropping them outside of the bodyline, allowing them to anchor the feet further ahead before the kick. If you keep the head in the water the bow wave may be less evident, but the hips cant slide forward without dropping below the “tube” the body is moving in, but the body still takes up the same same frontal-cross sectional area (since the head and shoulders will still break the surface of the water regardless of head lift). Seems like a net loss to me. This might allow a swimmer to increase their stroke rate if they master the skill, but I don’t believe that this would make up for the reduced oxygen and decreased distance per stroke.

    That’s the most glaring example to me. He also said that the head should be so far back on backstroke that water runs over the face, and then showed a picture of Tyler Clary in what was clearly him just prior to the breakout, so that there was a smooth layer of water coating his face (shown here http://www3.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Tyler%2BClary%2BOlympics%2BDay%2B5%2BSwimming%2BMHxEmt3uonol.jpg). There were a few others but this is already too long.

    I will say, however, that there were several very interesting methods Dr. Rushall brought up regarding how swimmers learn and receive feedback, and it all seems very worthwhile to look up.

    All in all, I think that as far as how we should train our swimmers, Dr. Rushall is on the right path, in that we should practice how we race and encourage development of the best possible technique at all times. The meat of my disagreement is simply with what “best possible technique” entails.

    • PsychoDad says:
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      Good feedback Sven and some interesting comments. Now:

      >One of these was breathing every other stroke on breaststroke. The justification was
      >that it allows the swimmer to stay lower in the water, increase stroke rate, and save
      >energy…

      Staying low in breaststroke is one of the stupidest ideas in all swimming. Why not ask FINA to change rule and allow swimmers to stay in streamline position all the time. Wouldn’t that be fastest breaststroke? You cannot get any lower than that. None of top level breaststrokers in the world swims that way. Staying high is very important for pulling your hips forward and “compressing” your lower back, as well as for upper body “dive forward” and suing gravity to move forward. Staying high does tend to drop you hips, but that is compensated by arching your lower back as hips are pulled forward. Not breathing every stroke in breaststroke is an old idea. It has nothing to do with staying low, but does “encourage” increased stroke rate. Our son swims 50 breast with no breathing on first stroke after pull outs and not breathing last 5 yards.

  40. Greg says:
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    Hulk, Braden, All

    Where can I get a list of teams using USRPT, be it strict Rushall or a modified version? Clubs, colleges or HS, especially the latter.

    Thanks.

    Greg

    • Andy says:
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      Greg I believe that Braden said its coming soon.

      • GC says:
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        I love these comments and this article. This is Swim Swam at its finest!! It gives a great insight into swim training, brings folks together to debate and leads to critical thinking. Thanks Swim Swam.

  41. swimcoach says:
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    As a coach who works with mostly 13-18 year olds, here is my biggest issue with this entire conversation: Everyone is treating “swimmers” as one animal. After years of traditional developmental training, I could be on board with a college kid going through this type of training. But, as a coach whose goals don’t include making the fastest 14 year old possible, my question to most of the readers and commenters is – Does it matter whether this type of training offers an athlete the traditional aerobic base that countless Olympic champion sprinters have had?

    I am cool with my role in an athlete’s career – helping them to develop so they can be more specific in their college years. Is that not what an age-group coach’s role is any more? Has it become the age group coach’s goal to create the fastest 15 year-old? Are we to treat a 13 yr old and a 23 year old the same?

    As a friend who unfortunately isn’t on deck anymore after a relatively short career developing great swimmers – Olympians included – used to say; “If I have a kid in my program break a NAG sprint record, I’m not doing my job.”

    He may have been over-stating (for some), but it was never about him creating the fastest 14 year old possible. And his athletes became great swimmers at some of our finest Universities – and put multiple kids on national teams.

    • PsychoDad says:
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      Very well said. Who cares that Michael is so fast as 14 year old, except people who make money out of it? I am sure there will be a number of kids faster than he is when he is 18 – some kids that are skinny and not so tall right now and practicing “regular” way. Fast race pacing for 14 year old? Who cares? Slow down and teach them technique. They will know how to race fast when needed.

    • swimk says:
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      Maybe, but what’s the balance between”developing them so they can be more specific in college” vs. getting a 15 year old fast enough that they can even get looks from top flight universities?
      Kids hit puberty at younger ages than they used to, so the belief that the base needs to be built until 17-18 might need to be re-examined, especially if kids aren’t growing past age 13. Plus, a 15 year old could very well be a sophomore / rising junior in high school, means they have one year or so to attract some attention from schools.
      So what’s the trade-off point, in your opinion?

      • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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        I think swimk makes a VERY good point about the changes in human development in a very short period of time, specifically that kids hit puberty much younger than they used to even 10 or 15 years ago. Not something that’s been widely discussed in swimming.

      • swimcoach says:
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        The one thing that I’ve been thinking about lately IS about whether my swimmers would be put in a better position if I didn’t care about long term. So far, my particular kids continue to get faster doing it in a more traditional way. I haven’t had an elite-bodied athlete in a bit to tempt me otherwise. So, I will continue to try to figure that out. I also know that there are PLENTY of schools outside the top 10 that do a fantastic job with the athletes we have helped develop. And our kids are prepared and getting faster when they get there. If one of my kids is at the 20th ranked school, but maybe they could’ve gone to USC? I’m ok with that. It’s worked out. Or they are at a really good D3, instead of a mid-major D1 – that’s cool too.

        On whether the human development has quickened to the point that makes the traditional model wrong?? I don’t have any reason to buy that one just yet.

        Hey – if these kids who are going 148 LC 2 free at 17 and 20.3 50 free at 14 are on the blocks winning gold in 2020, I may totally jump on board. But when those medals are STILL being won by guys who put in some more yards as age-groupers, I honestly don’t get too excited about the crazy-fast age groupers.

        • swimcoach says:
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          Which kinda brings me back to my original question. Regardless of whether USRP is the best way to coach, Is the role of an Age group coach to create the fastest possible 15 year old. Or is the role to help develop an athlete who can become more specific as an adult swimmer? Does that come into the thinking of all you coaches here who are working with teens?

          • forge ahead says:
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            completely. i know i am not the means to an end, and i really hope that i’m not as I WANT them to continue to get faster all the way through college. there has to be a broad and wide foundation for that.

            what worries me the most about this is that i do think that it is effective…to the extent that it probably does make the fastest 15 – 18 year olds. what scares me about that is that those kids will be the kids getting recruited most highly because they have times…while maybe not possessing the same potential that a well developed athlete may have (and maybe to go even further).

            the worst part of all of this is we probably won’t know if “it works” (because what really, “works”…as psycho dad quoted before, Eddie Reese is right on with saying, “I don’t know if the sets work – it’s the people that make them work”) until 2020 (as evidenced it is a “new” phenomena). Which means if everybody jumps on board and it doesn’t work (and by work I mean translates to hardware at the international level) the US could be feeling the effects in 2020 through possibly 2028…that’s scary.

            But the biggest question is, if it even works for ONE person, say Michael Andrew does qualify in 2020, 2024, or 2028 in just one event, or one relay, and does earn a metal…even if it is an alternate on a relay, does that really mean it works?

            Again, as Eddie Reese said, “I don’t know if the sets work, it’s the people that make them work”. I do think that’s selling himself a little short, as it does take a person making them work by application/plan and another do it AND all the other things they do for the other 18-20 hours a day correctly too.

            With one last quote, Bob Bowman delivered this nugget as this year’s ASCA by saying, “FASTER is HARDER and MORE, not LESS and EASIER”. For now, with his track record (and Eddie’s) i think i’ll stick with the them even if it does cost me the fastest 15 – 18 year old. the reward i receive from representing a stepping stone to bigger, greater things is all i need.

      • mcgillrocks says:
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        A 15 year old would most likely be a freshman or sophomore. If you’re 15 junior year then you probably skipped a grade.

  42. Hulk Swim says:
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    @ swimcoach

    You are missing the point, I think… usrpt is NOT treating all athletes like one animal… everyday, each athlete does a workout that’s based on THEM as an individual…

    If you write a set for your group that’s geared at your top athlete who’s a 500 Freestyler, and it’s something like 20x100s at 1:20… and that kid holds 58s… There are some in the group who are failing to hold their true 500 pace- Lets say your next best 500 guy is holding 59s for the first 11 but after number 12 is holding 1:02s, 1:03s, and fades to a 1:04 by the end… everything after that 12th one is only serving to hurt that 2nd athlete… Some kids can MAKE the interval and still be failing the set.

    That 2nd athlete SHOULD have stopped after 12. He did a set that wasn’t for HIM. It was for the top kid.

    And what about the 100 Freestyler in the group? How is that set relevant to him? Is holding 1:07s making him a better sprinter?

    And how in the world is NOT making your athlete the best they can be at the time benefiting them later?

    If my athlete isn’t the best 15 they can be, I screwed up. Because now they are off track on being the best 17 they can be and getting recruited to the better program in college, which will in turn help them be the best 20 they can be.

    I don’t see how being held back (purposely?) in their development in any way, shape or form helps an athlete.

    And as for the rationale that our “job” is to “lay the base” for them and let some college coach “make them a sprinter”…

    Bull.

    Perhaps the reason that kids with a “big base” start going faster in college is that they finally start training with speed.

    And there are SOOOO many cases of successful college and international level athletes who for whatever reason (late start, late bloomer, just lazy and uncommitted)

  43. Hulk Swim says:
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    (Continued) went on to success without this mystical “base”.

  44. Hulk Swim says:
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    “”Is the role of Age group coach to create the fastest possible 15 year old. Or is the role to help develop athletes who can become more specific as an aduIt swimmer? Does that come into the thinking of all you coaches here who are working with teens?””

    How many athletes go on to elite adult swimming? 1 in 100??? 1 in 1,000???

    Our job is to make them the best version of themselves and help them achieve their goals.

    I can’t get over that theory of ‘let the college coach do it’… These kids won’t GET to that college coach if they aren’t fast!!!

    I don’t see Eddie recruiting really aerobically fit 46 100 freestylers… he’s recruiting 43s and 44s. So tough luck to the kid who was thinking he’s setting up for some Eddie magic… have fun at [mid-major D1 School] or [top D3 School]…

    • swimcoach says:
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      Eddie will happily recruit a 46 100 freestyler – or a 52 100 flyer if that kid is 6-4. Just sayin

      • PsychoDad says:
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        Very true, swimcoach. I spent many hours talking to Eddie’s ex-swimmers including about how Eddie recruits; they all told me Eddie loves to recruit potential; swimmer like now Austin Vacek – physically gifted and talented but not technically polished.

        • Hulk Swim says:
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          Ok. Thanks for making my point… He isn’t recruiting aerobic base, he’s recruiting size… Vacek was 6’7″ the last time I saw him… and he’s not a “46 100 freestyler” as I was talking about. He’s an IMer… who happens to go 46. He’s much better in other events.

  45. swimcoach says:
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    So, when the whole basis of USRPT is Science, you’re going with “Perhaps the reason that kids with a “big base” start going faster in college is that they finally start training with speed.”? PERHAPS??

    Perhaps that kid is going faster because he has strong background AND he finally started training with speed. Perhaps not. I am totally open-minded enough to consider that. But not until this plays out a bit more.

    And thanks for all the data of the “sooooo many cases” that balances out Phelps, Adrian, Vanderkay, Jager, Yang, Nabor, Dwyer, Berens, Clary, McClean, etc etc etc

    • Hulk Swim says:
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      I used a word that left you an opening… congratulations…

      And to use an argument that people like to use with Michael Andrew (he’s a freak and super huge for a 14 year old)… so was everyone you listed aside from Clary.

      What is a strong background? What’s it look like? Is it like an aerobic base?

      I’ve seen more athletes with this ‘base’ go on to college and NOT do any better than I have who DO.

      Again, I’ll use the freak of nature arguement…

      • G says:
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        What is “Aerobic base?” I am fuzzy on that term.

        Lets say I understand Aerobic base…can’t I build my aerobic base as well? If I can do one I can certainly build the other, correct?

        Also, when I race a 50, 100, 200 or 500…is there any point where I should have a heart rate in the 160-170 per minute range? Is there anytime I should have a turn over rate above 1.4? I am fairly certain even in a 500 free I am going to be above 170 and at or below 1.4 for the entire race. Hey, I could be wrong….

        USRP training just sounds right. Practice going the speed you are going to do. It certainly doesn’t sound limiting in any way.

        It could be totally off (it has been working VERY well for me so far) but I am not sure what argument could be made for it being limiting. The first person that put on goggles did say “well everyone that has won a gold metal didn’t wear goggles so these will never work” – no. They realized an advantage and took it. USRP training seems just that.

  46. forge ahead says:
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    sorry to repeat…to swimcoach…everybody else types too fast

    completely. i know i am not the means to an end, and i really hope that i’m not as I WANT them to continue to get faster all the way through college. there has to be a broad and wide foundation for that.

    what worries me the most about this is that i do think that it is effective…to the extent that it probably does make the fastest 15 – 18 year olds. what scares me about that is that those kids will be the kids getting recruited most highly because they have times…while maybe not possessing the same potential that a well developed athlete may have (and maybe to go even further).

    the worst part of all of this is we probably won’t know if “it works” (because what really, “works”…as psycho dad quoted before, Eddie Reese is right on with saying, “I don’t know if the sets work – it’s the people that make them work”) until 2020 (as evidenced it is a “new” phenomena). Which means if everybody jumps on board and it doesn’t work (and by work I mean translates to hardware at the international level) the US could be feeling the effects in 2020 through possibly 2028…that’s scary.

    But the biggest question is, if it even works for ONE person, say Michael Andrew does qualify in 2020, 2024, or 2028 in just one event, or one relay, and does earn a metal…even if it is an alternate on a relay, does that really mean it works?

    Again, as Eddie Reese said, “I don’t know if the sets work, it’s the people that make them work”. I do think that’s selling himself a little short, as it does take a person making them work by application/plan and another do it AND all the other things they do for the other 18-20 hours a day correctly too.

    With one last quote, Bob Bowman delivered this nugget as this year’s ASCA by saying, “FASTER is HARDER and MORE, not LESS and EASIER”. For now, with his track record (and Eddie’s) i think i’ll stick with the them even if it does cost me the fastest 15 – 18 year old. the reward i receive from representing a stepping stone to bigger, greater things is all i need.

    • GC says:
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      At the risk of contradicting the great Bob Bowman: Faster is not harder and more. Faster is faster…. I am just saying that is true…..
      Also, ask your swimmers to go to a “meet” and race 30 times. Any race will do. Lets say for a 4 hours meet session. I will show you a DESTROYED swimmer. Point: going fast is not easy.

  47. RK says:
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    So by his own admission, generalized training and drills are necessary in the early stages of the development of athletes, during their novice years. My question is, when to they stop being novices? When do drills become harmful? At what stage in life does teaching children to become better general athletes no longer help them?

    I believe that moving to a more specific training is necessary in an athlete’s career, especially as they age, but at what point do we make that move? Is it a gradual transition, or an immediate change?

    I also believe that there is a time and place for everything when it comes to training. You shouldn’t train a 9 year old like a 12 year old, or a 12 year old like a 17 year old (developmental age). So what do we hold back? For how long? What do we discard? When do we discard it?

    In essence, I haven’t heard the answer to this question: What is the proper progression for an athlete under this model, from beginning to end? and what is the time frame for that career?

  48. forge ahead says:
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    completely. i know i am not the means to an end, and i really hope that i’m not as I WANT them to continue to get faster all the way through college. there has to be a broad and wide foundation for that.

    what worries me the most about this is that i do think that it is effective…to the extent that it probably does make the fastest 15 – 18 year olds. what scares me about that is that those kids will be the kids getting recruited most highly because they have times…while maybe not possessing the same potential that a well developed athlete may have (and maybe to go even further).

    the worst part of all of this is we probably won’t know if “it works” (because what really, “works”…as psycho dad quoted before, Eddie Reese is right on with saying, “I don’t know if the sets work – it’s the people that make them work”) until 2020 (as evidenced it is a “new” phenomena). Which means if everybody jumps on board and it doesn’t work (and by work I mean translates to hardware at the international level) the US could be feeling the effects in 2020 through possibly 2028…that’s scary.

    But the biggest question is, if it even works for ONE person, say Michael Andrew does qualify in 2020, 2024, or 2028 in just one event, or one relay, and does earn a metal…even if it is an alternate on a relay, does that really mean it works?

    Again, as Eddie Reese said, “I don’t know if the sets work, it’s the people that make them work”. I do think that’s selling himself a little short, as it does take a person making them work by application/plan and another do it AND all the other things they do for the other 18-20 hours a day correctly too.

    With one last quote, Bob Bowman delivered this nugget as this year’s ASCA by saying, “FASTER is HARDER and MORE, not LESS and EASIER”. For now, with his track record (and Eddie’s) i think i’ll stick with the them even if it does cost me the fastest 15 – 18 year old. the reward i receive from representing a stepping stone to bigger, greater things is all i need.

  49. Coach says:
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    Interesting stuff and glad this “experiment” is going on…. just wish we’d get data on more swimmers than just this kid. He doesn’t seem to be able to swim any good times for anything over a 100. I’m sure people will say that is b/c he is a sprinter but I think a younger / developmental swimmer should be at least able to swim a good 200 (and I only count LCM). His LCM times are horrendous for anything over 100 (comparatively to his 100s). Can’t break 2:00 but goes :52 in the 100? I’m not meaning to be insulting here but call it like it is. He needs to put up better times for his 200’s to give validity to this training system for the average swimmer (or we need data on more swimmers training this way).

    That being said, I do think there is value in this training (but not as a total system, just as valuable sets 2-3x per week) b/c it can help train the aerobic capacity of the fast twitch muscle fibers. I do think the training the Australians did (30×100 race pace, etc) was a form of this but Grant Hackett also used to do a set of 2(5×400 @ 5:00-LCM) regularly as well. He also did 2x speed sets per week as well (30×50@ 1:30). and recovery sets of 10×200 @ 2:30-cruise-LCM (which sped up recovery between intense bouts). The “mix” of the different types of work seemed to be the key.

    I do know that Doc Counsilman did something similar to this 50 years ago as an experiment for 1-2 seasons and then abandoned it when he was not happy with the results. He talks about it in his books. What was old becomes new….. maybe it wasn’t exactly the same though…

    It is very arrogant of Dr. Rushall to tell all coaches they don’t know what they are doing when he himself has not produced swimmers on the level of so many accomplished swimmers in the past. I don’t accept that “Science is right and opinions are mostly wrong.” Science has been wrong in the past and the history of sport has shown that good coaches often have come up with innovative coaching that science then comes along later and explains why it works. Also, Science doesn’t have answers. Science has information. It is the job of the scientist to give a coach information and the job of the coach to decide how to use that information. The coach is dealing with a complete person (mental, physical, bio mechanical, etc). It is not the job of scientists to tell us how to coach.

    All that being said, I’m glad there is something new out there and I think if enough people try this training method, we will learn some of what works and doesn’t work so I give credit to Dr. Rushall for coming up with something new and for the people that are courageous enough to try it. I do think if Dr. Rushall was more respectful of coaches they might be more open to him. As for myself, I’ll experiment with it but won’t drop tried and true methods for something like this just yet. Once enough people prove it works, then great… I’ll adopt it but not before…. so Good Luck! In the meantime, I’ll keep coaching the average 5’6″ kid that can still go under 2:00 for LCM in a 200 free (which isn’t even a good time).

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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      Coach – I hear this claim a lot, and I think it needs to be cleared up – Michael Andrew has had a lot of success over 100 yards. This summer, he broke Michael Phelps’ 200 LCM IM National Age Group Record, and has been 3:58 in the 400 yard IM as a 13-year old.

      I think it’s important to get the basic premises right before debating a subject, whether you fall on the pro-USRPT or the anti-USRPT side of the debate.

      • Coach says:
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        Braden…

        His 400 IM – Longcourse time (4:43) no where near the 3:58 time in short course. I coached a 5’8″ (average) kid who swam a best of 3:57 this past year in yards for 400 IM and then went 4:32 for meters.

        The 200 IM time very good but could be argued that it is more like 4×50 then a 200 b/c of the changing of the stroke.

        Again…value in this type of training…I just don’t think as a complete system… just a part of a system…..

        • Coach says:
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          BTW….Someone should check out the type of training that John Flanagan is doing at NCAP with Seliskar, Hu, etc….. 3:41 IM is awesome for a kid that age (Seliskar). It can’t be a fluke either b/c that guy always produces great swimmers! Why don’t we see a story on their training…..They put up fast times both LCM and SCY in all distances.

  50. Hulk Swim says:
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    ” i think i’ll stick with the them even if it does cost me that 15 – 18 year old. the reward i receive from representing a stepping stone to bigger, greater things is all i need.””

    I’m not being a jerk here… I just genuinely can’t understand this… how many athletes have you coached who’ve gone on to be better than the FASTEST 17 year old. I’d bet not many. Neither have I. Nor have MOST coaches.

    I also am not under any illusion that I’m going to coach the next Michael Phelps. I’m most likely never going to coach a National Teamer. It’s effing hard to make the US National Team. You have to be SUPER talented. I’m not working with any SUPER talented kids right now.

    I’m working with good athletes who have potential to make nice end of season meets, and make them now!

    The swimming career path for the bulk of my roster right now ends in college, be it at a major D1, mid major D1, small D1, D2, or D3 school.

    So I’m not worried about their potential to affect the US National Team in 2024 or 2028. I’m trying to help them achieve their goals- making Sectionals. Making Juniors. Getting a scholarship (college is expensive!!!).

    I’m also NOT worried about some mythical idea of creating an aerobic base for a kid who is just looking to make a travel meet, and eventually swim for his college team. He/she isn’t worried about making a National Team.

    When I get a Michael Phelps, with potential to make National Teams… I’ll look long and hard at how to best help him. But to be honest- the best path to the National Team is through the Junior Team. Which is FAST. So I’ll probably just keep doing what I’m doing…

    As a side note- I’m ccurious as to how many college coaches were concerned with Caleb Dressel or Ryan Murphy’s “base” or “background”. Or how many aren’t going to recruit Ryan Hoffer… or Abby Weitzel.

    I’m pretty sure none.

    • forge ahead says:
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      so are you implying that the swimmers you listed have done the same type of training (and i’ll settle for type, and not say “exact”) that Michael Andrew has done?

      if so, i’d also suggest that the swimmers you listed are much, much closer to “proving” the usrp system “works” than michael andrew.

      for now, the youngsters that i look to that have proven a system “works” would be a short list of athletes such as chase kalisz, missy franklin, rachel bootsma, lia neal, katie ledecky.

  51. Hulk Swim says:
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    @ Coach…

    A simple search in the USA Swimming times db shows that he’s been: 1:48 in the 200 Back, 2:03 in the 200 Breast and 1:51 in the 200 Fly, as well as a 3:58 in the 400 IM.

    If those times aren’t any good for a 13-14 year old guy, I didn’t get the memo.

    Honestly- having seen him a few times I think Freestyle is his weakest stroke (and he still has a lot of NAG’s). It’s clear his 200 Free isn’t as solid as his other 200s (1:42). But I wouldn’t bet against him getting his 200 Free under 1:39 by March.

    And that’s just ONE EVENT!!! He’s got the NAG in the 100 of all 3 other strokes… but I forgot, athletes with great backgrounds have held the NAG in 3 strokes across ALL distances… oh wait. That never happened.

    You could pick one event that’s weak for ALL athletes.

    • Coach says:
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      Hulk…. you missed the part where I said… I only count LCM….when referring to 200’s.

      • GC says:
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        Simply – the 400 IM is not their focus. If it was their focus he might very well have the 400 long course meter record. They are focused on the 200’s and 100’s. You can’t fault them for swimming at those paces all the time. You really need to read all the Rushall papers and see there is ample literature behind USRP training and swimming the 400M+ events. This type of training is focused on the races – MA is focused on the 100 and 200’s – which I do not think we should fault him for…you know because that would make us crazy….

      • Another coach says:
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        I don’t think it’s fair to only use LCM, but do what you want.

        I think part of the problem is that training for 200’s just isn’t as fun as 100’s… motivated or not, Michael is still a kid. If he’s having fun training for one type of race, and excelling marvelously at it, and then there’s another type that hurts a lot more and isn’t fun, his mindset is going to be different no matter how disciplined he is. That said, Peter and Michael seem pretty determined to buckle down and work on those 200’s during the last interview I saw.

        I’m predicting that the last LCM meet before his 15th birthday will show some times even you will acknowledge.

      • NDB says:
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        Michael Andrew – NAG record holder 13 14 boys 200 IM LCM.

  52. Max says:
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    The infallibility of scientific “reason” bothers me here. Because Rushall’s method is supported by “science,” other methodologies seem relegated to trash categories. But as coaches we know that going to extremes sometimes seems rather radical. While this approach is innovative and somewhat new, I still believe various methodologies provide beneficial results to swimmers. One problem involved when arguing against USRPT is the claim that one is going against science. But the flip side of this claim is that many coaches have “experience,” and they know what has worked over the years. As a coach, I believe an integrative approach works for my swimmers and I.

  53. Russell Peterson says:
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    Very interesting and in depth explanation of the concepts of USRPT.
    To me, it seems that USRPT is an extreme version of the new ideas of swim training that seem to be more and more popular every year-in summary the idea that quality is better than quantity and that recovery is just as important as work.

    I’m a second year high school coach in CA, and I have found that one of the most important elements in getting high school swimmers to swim fast is to make them get used to swimming fast. I don’t ever give random drills to the group, and give specific drills only to individual swimmers to work on a particular problem with their stroke. I do a lot of speed work usually mixed with some longer easier swims.

    I still do a lot of aerobic work, especially early season, to make sure my guys are conditioned. But I don’t do garbage yardage, and I try to incorporate some speed work into every workout. Often at the end of a workout that was mostly aerobic I will give 8×25, one fast one easy, the idea being that I don’t want them to forget what it feels like to swim fast.

    I think the big thing for coaches to keep in mind is that in order to build a strong overall team, its important to have a balanced program. Andrew trains mostly alone, and therefore a training plan that benefits him can be implemented. But using these principles to a “T” may not lead to a successful program, despite its positive effects on an individual.

    To me, balance is the key to building a good program, because a balanced training approach will cater to the max number of swimmers.

    Really, it comes down to your goals as a coach: do you want to build an overall strong and successful program, or do you want to coach the next Michael Phelps?

    • Hulk Swim says:
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      Russell,

      You need to read the papers Dr. Rushall has published… I’d start here:
      http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/bullets/table.htm

      One of the best things about USRPT is that it is EXTREMELY flexible. Each athlete can train for their specific events and not waste time on events they are focused on.

      I had a group of 40 tonight and in the first race pace set we had 3 kids racing mile pace 100s, 8 kids 500 pace 75s, 2 kids 500 pace 50s, 16 kids 200 pace (various strokes) 50s, and 11 on 25s at 100 pace… Some were recovering after 13 minutes, nobody made it past 25 min.

      Also… 8x25s alternating ez/fast is not USRPT.

      • Free-Thinker says:
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        How do you track that many kids going different paces?

        • Hulk Swim says:
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          They do it and log it themselves. It isn’t exact and the coaches keep an eye out, but we aren’t in a 1 on 2 or 1 on 3 situation… it’s a 4 on 40-50 situation. We do the best we can. The kids do a good job of being honest and helping each other out.

          It isn’t perfect. But it’s what we got.

  54. Ron says:
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    Some of you sound EXTREMELY threatenedby this and I am not certain why. Listen…Rushall is really just taking some of the very basic tenets from the field of Exercise Physiology (i.e., Principle of Specificity, etc.) along with some advanced energy systems science/studies and applying them to a system of training. Throw in some neurologic adaptation science and voila!!

    It actually makes complete sense to me.

  55. Thirteen says:
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    So…assuming that swimmers were to switch over to this new theory/system of training, how much time should/would/could elapse before they would begin to see a difference in time?

    Example:
    If a collegiate athlete X were to join a team that practiced 100% USRPT over the summer, should s/he expect to be significantly faster before rejoining the college team?

    If athlete X does NOT improve, does that mean that s/he is already training and competing at his/her full potential?

    What’s a fair amount of time to devote to the trial – assuming all biases could be removed, and the athlete in question could 100% buy into the program and not hold back mentally, physically or emotionally in any way – to find out “if it works” for athlete X?

    Just curious, and this seems to have become an awesome discussion. Lots to learn and take away!

  56. Dave Hemmings says:
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    Thanks for the article – lots of respect for Becca Mann – was at the US Nationals a few years back watching you slam down the distance free
    I took objection to much of this article – and have commented after most of the statements with my views
    Dave Hemmings
    Hillingdon Head Coach
    London UK

    Issues with USRPT
    There is such thing as anaerobic training when a swimmer is working repeatedly beyond lactate threshold

    Do not discard current ideas about swimming – embrace the work programmes of champions
    Sometimes 100% science isn’t right but a combination of science and coaching opinion is

    The PRINCIPLE OF SPECIFICITY reigns THE LANGUAGE OF USRPT
    -A set is a “training stimulus”
    yes

    -How a swimmer reacts is a “training effect”
    yes

    -What results from the set is a “training effect”
    yes
    -The demand of the training stimuli is the “training stress”
    yes

    HIGH TRAINING AND DRYLAND TRAINING ARE NOT RELATED TO IMPROVEMENTS IN SWIMMING PERFORMANCE

    Incorrect
    Carefully planned strength training has huge benefits to swimming performance

    Female sprinter data: The earlier they started swimming, the sooner they burned out

    Is burning out related to every swimmer that gives up? Or every swimmer who gives up thinking they are a sprinter? But actually are not?

    Female distance data:
    Average yardage was high. How can we have our swimmers do enough yardage all at race pace?

    A higher %volume @ race pace is more important as a swimmer matures

    Male sprinter data: the more hours they swam/yardage they do, the slower they swam

    What is sprinter though? 50-100-200? Are we in a club programme or a senior programme? There are major differences here

    Male distance swimmer data: Swimmers had nothing in common

    There are always similarities

    Psychology (mental control and intrinsic rewards)
    If the swimmer doesn’t want to do it, they won’t do well. You have to want it and be present in practice

    This suggests a coach never attempts to motivate – ultimately to achieve 1s potential the swimmer must want to do it and be at training

    Physiology
    You can only go as fast as your hereditary body can go. However, if you don’t have good physiology, you can make up for it in technique

    Has anyone ever proven a body can go only as fast as it can hereditary go? Sorry that is from a weak programme philosophy

    If a swimmer is going to do 16x200s and they’re singing songs the whole way through, they won’t get anything out of it

    Understand the objective you won’t be singing songs

    -If they swim 40x50s at race pace with 20 seconds rest, they have a high chance of improving if a swimmer is doing 16x200s and starts swimming lousily at number 10, they should stop. When they keep going, their technique gets sloppy and it’s detrimental to their stroke and recovery

    40×50 & 16×200 are 2 completely different sets and should not be compared when attempting to develop specific areas of swimming fitness

    Energy supports technique. Fatigue does not

    Training to perfect technique under fatigue is perhaps the best way of improving competition performance.

    The “strain” of swimming is training is the cumulative effect of race-specific and non-specific physical exertion (traditional training).“Both produce fatigue; one useful (race pace is very useful!), the other useless (such a poor statement!)

    Swimmers should always come out of the pool a better swimmer than they were when they jumped in the pool. They shouldn’t leave the water until they’ve improved on something, or done something better than they’ve ever done before – yes

    COACHING USRPT
    For beginner swimmers, drills can be beneficial since they do not know the correct way to swim the strokes
    yes

    For average trained swimmers, drills are mostly no longer beneficial – unless there is a drill to correct a very specific problem
    For serious trained swimmers, drills are harmful

    drills are never harmful – for serious swimmers use them for ‘feel’ rathr than improvement

    DRYLAND
    “When you’re in the water, you’re totally supported. On land, you have to deal with gravity.” Dr. Rushall says that dryland and drills will not help the swimmer since it’s not specific to swimming. How does it help your stroke when you’re too sore to swim well?

    Understand the concepts of relative strength and absolute strength. Then teach your swimmers how to transfer that into the water. The above statement is a very poor one.

    SUMMARY OF MAIN PRINCIPLES
    Recovery is as important, if not more important, than work. Without recovery there can be no training effect

    Do you know the recovery profile of every one of your athletes? They are all completely different – they all react different to every session and all have a far larger physiological capacity than they may ever know – or as coaches we may ever without a strong scientific backing

    Conditioning effects are limited by hereditary (no amount of training will improve inherited physiological capacities)

    No one really knows this – another limiting statement

    Conditioning effects are limited within a season – swimmers achieve maximum fitness in a limited time and then cease to improve

    This statement has some validity in senior swimming but most top programmes focus on cycles based around 2-4 seasons not 1. I do not support the statement for age / youth swimming

    Irrelevant exercises/swimming is useless

    What is irrelevant swimming? Is recovery swimming irrelevant ?

    When physiological conditioning is emphasized in traditional training, swimmers spend most of the year avoiding overtraining and over-reaching and not gaining benefits

    Poor statement – many programmes value physiological conditioning and experience huge improvements

    Overload increments should be stepped not gradual or whimsical. Steps provide opportunities for specific adaptations

    There is support for this statement and I have experienced big improvements with a step overload method

    Repeated exposures to workloads are necessary for specific fitness improvements
    yes

    Fatigue inhibits learning

    Not if coaching focuses on specific focus under fatigue – this is the richest form of learning!!!!!!!!!

    CURRENT PRACTICES THAT VIOLATE KNOWN PRINCIPLES OF CONDITIONING
    The greater the number of sessions per weeks, the better

    If a swimmer loves swimming and attempting to improves the more sessions the better

    The greater the absolute distance covered in a week, the better

    Big volumes of precisely planned work is the best formula for fast swimming

    Variety in training programs is essential
    yes

    Any swimming directed by a coach is beneficial – yes if the coach adds value
    Conditioning training is best. [Actually, third of three in importance.]

    conditioning is of huge importance to the maintenance of technique overdistance and race pace under fatigue – another statement I have issue with

    There are zones of training [Not within human physiologies.]

    There are zones of training within human physiologies

    The harder the swimmer works, the better. [Violates the Principles of Individuality/Specificity.]

    What is working hard? – this statement cannot be made without understanding what the objectives for the session are. Every session the swimmer should work as hard as possible – to the objective.

    There are physiological indices of good training. [Unrelated to racing.]
    Wrong

    -Drills and equipment are beneficial
    Debatable

    Fitness can be improved year-round. [Actually, very limited.]
    Actually huge improvements can be made every year in different components of fitness

    PARAMETERS FOR A NEW CONDITIONING/TRAINING PARADIGM
    Specificity. Only race-pace or faster swimming will lead to improvements

    No understanding of periodization and the building blocks of fast swimming

    Slower swimming will produce more economical slow swimming and also produces non-specific overload (strain) and is of no benefit to racing

    You ever heard of ‘feel’

    Rest is as important as work. Thus, active rest periods need to be scheduled within practice sessions

    Yes for sure

  57. Adam says:
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    This system is very insightful and very refreshing. Disagree with the drills and dryland. There are just too many benefits from dryland to be ignored.

    We had a swimmer go from 59 to 54 in one year, 100 yd breast, by only swimming 25s and 20s. Never did a full 100 breast in practice. We did, however, bring in jump boxes and Kettlebells to improve his hip drive and power off the walls.

    • oldschoolc says:
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      “If you changed more than 10% of your program in a year you really don’t have a clue as to what worked or didn’t work”. This is from conversations with Paul Bergen and others.

      Please list the benefits of dryland to swimming and cite the studies. Spare the anecdotes.

      • Bossanova says:
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        It doesn’t require a study to see that the best 100 freestyle sprinters are very muscular and to attain that level of muscle mass requires some form of weight lifting.

        • Adam says:
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          Right on. Thanks man.

          • SprintDude9000 says:
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            ADAM – I can’t believe that you’re accepting BOSSANOVA’s guesswork as fact. I am totally with OLDSCHOOLC on this one. This kind of attitude is the reason that dogma permeates coaching practice in swimming to the degree that it does. Poor show.

  58. PAC12BACKER says:
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    Science is always right. Love that. From incompressible fluid dynamics theory the Power required to overcome drag force is a function of velocity AND the drag force itself is a function of velocity squared.

    Therefore, any swimmer that decreases their time by say 10% would require a 33% increase in Power. How to achieve that increase in speed is the tricky part, because as you increase muscle mass and volume, the drag force also increases. requiring even more power to achieve faster results.

  59. Marc says:
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    This is a very interesting approach, but as a “one-and-only” training regimen it’s flawed. For a system predicated on “science first,” it seems to reject other relevant science. No warm up and warm down means many more instances of injury. You’re expected to perform race quality 50s without any warm up, but what about in meets? Do you not warm up then? Also without drill, technique gets flawed as well. For one, drill is great for loosening up. But moreover, drill keeps you sharp.

    There’s so much more as well, but other commenters have touched on it.

    The thing about USRPT is it is great for race prep, but without a base and regular technique tuning, it’s worthless. Furthermore, 6000 yards a day (2 x 3000 yd practices) is not going to adequately prepare you for a 4 day meet without the appropriate base before hand. There is plenty of science to back up the base1-base2-build-peak approach. USRPT is great during the early part of taper or the second practice of doubles (yardage in the morning and USRPT in the afternoon). In fact, that’s how most coaches use it and they do it to great effect (shocker).

  60. USRPTmen says:
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    We use USRPT in training, my club is the best in norway because we use USRPT ….. (I think) and we get PB almost all the time.

  61. Evan says:
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    I’ve been teaching USRPT to my top group (15 swimmers aged between 12 and 15) since February.
    Initially we had a large drop off in performance whilst they learnt how to do the training. This was because of the drop off in ‘yardage’ in comparison to my usual program (on average around 1/3rd less total per session) and other physiological and psychological factors that go with such a complete change in methodology.

    After 6 weeks this happened – PB’s at a district meet from everyone. It’s not the fact that they swam PB’s that made me sit up and take notice, it’s that they all even split their races to within a few tenths per 25 (it was a LC pool, I hand timed the 25 splits).
    This is from swimmers who do 5 to 6 2 hour sessions per week.

    e.g. 14yr Male 100m FR LC – Dec 2013 PB 59.28 (Splits: 28.70/30.58) Traditional training
    Apr 2014 PB 59.23 (Splits: 29.01/30.22) after USRPT

    This is after averaging 2km per session for 6 weeks, in comparison to this time last year we averaged 5km per session.

    Of those 2km however 1.2 – 1.5km was swam at race pace. So whilst we were doing around 1/3rd to 1/2 the total km’s we would normally do, we were able to swim 6x as much race pace km’s using USRPT.

    That has to be worth considering.

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