Becca Mann blogs (and videos) USRPT, Day 3

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.

Read Becca’s blogs from day 1 and day 2.


Hi SwimSwammers!  I have some training videos for you today, a small interview with Peter, and my opinions on USRPT.


Today the seminar was focused on technique.  The doctor emphasized the importance of propulsion and the negative effects of drag.  Dr. Rushall believes in a streamlined body position for all four strokes.  Because of that belief, he says that kick should specifically be used for balance.  He stated that when your legs get out of line with your body (whether it be above the surface of the water or below), they are causing drag and creating more harm than benefit.

Dr. Rushall also doesn’t believe in having a long glide.  When you glide, you are wasting time and slowing down.


I know that there are a lot of arguments on the subject of USRPT and I wanted to voice my insight.  I love the idea of USRPT, although there are a few small details that I don’t agree with.

First I want say how well the program has worked for certain people.  Michael and Michaela have both thrived on the program.  Constantly swimming at race pace can definitely be an amazing program for athletes, especially sprinters.  I think USRPT can be extremely beneficial to sprinters (anything from a 50 to an 800).  If I was totally a sprinter, I would take up USRPT in a heartbeat.

Since I have never done 100% USRPT, I can’t say whether or not it would work for a distance swimmer like me.  I think that if I did the type of training that the Andrews do, the biggest hurdle would obviously be training for the 10k, the 5k, and the 1500.  I don’t believe that training 3000-4000 meters/yards a day would be enough training for some of the longer events.  That’s why I would have to say that I think that more yardage would be beneficial to myself.  I do plenty of race pace and sprinting in practice, but I also swim enough yards to have the endurance for some of my longer races.  I don’t exactly train in a traditional sort of way, though.  My training is a mixture of pace, sprints, and distance.  When I swim a distance set in practice, I don’t swim it slow.  I’m always pushing it so I can beat my best in-practice times.  I would also like to add that you need to have different paces for the 5k and the 10k.  You need to be comfortable with switching speeds at a moment’s notice and you have to be able to have energy for the final leg of the race.  I don’t think that USRPT would be able to teach swimmers how to change their paces.  However, I do think that distance swimmers need to do some type of USRPT every practice, even if it’s just a 2000.

I also have to disagree with Dr. Rushall’s dryland and drill ideas.  A few years ago, I started doing pilates and there was an immediate improvement in my swimming.  Pilates strengthened my core and increased body awareness.  So many of the top swimmers do dryland.

I think that every individual needs a different dryland program.  The stronger your core is and the more body awareness you have, the more your mind will understand how your body is working in the water. Since dryland can be dangerous and cause injuries, I also believe that you need a dryland coach who knows what they’re doing and how to help you improve in the pool.

Before I contemplate on drills, I want everyone to know that I have never been a fan.  Drills have always been extremely boring to me. But it’s not that I don’t work hard during drills.  It’s just harder to go fast when I’m so focused on making my stroke perfect.

Even though you don’t do drills during races, I think drills can be beneficial to technique.  You can always apply technical improvements during fast swimming, but I think that drills can help you get a real feel for whatever you’re trying to improve.  And they can help when you just can’t make the improvements happen while you’re going fast.  When you’re drilling, you can also over-exaggerate the technical improvement so it’s easier to do once you do regular swimming.

USRPT is amazing.  I think that all swimmers should do some form of race-pace training during their practices, even if they don’t do it quite as the Andrews do it.  I really believe that USRPT is the future for sprinters, even if it isn’t right for some distance swimmers.

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10 years ago

Whatever happened with these. Will we ever see the rest of the blogs? What about the videos and coaches interviews? This was one of my favorite ever features on SwimSwam and had me checking the comments for days. Please bring it back!

Kirk Nelson
10 years ago

“Before I contemplate on drills, I want everyone to know that I have never been a fan. Drills have always been extremely boring to me.”

This made me chuckle. When you see Becca swim you get the feeling she’s not the kind of person who likes going slow–ever, so her saying this isn’t real shocking 🙂

Great blog!

Steve Nolan
10 years ago


Sorry. Other than that, well done.

Swim Daddy
10 years ago

Thanks for the great blogs Becca! My kids and I have been enjoying reading them and getting another take on USRPT. We had the good fortune to have a few sessions with Michael and Coach Peter recently. We were blown away. I was so impressed with how purposeful their training is. The feedback was instantaneous and customized. They make every stroke count. And even though my kids’ current workouts are far from USRPT methodology, they came away with more than enough biomechanics (and fluid mechanics) tips to make the trip more than worth it. My kids are re-energized about swimming and have been putting Coach Peter’s advice into practice.

David C Salo, PhD
10 years ago

Really enjoying the conversation. Every couple decades we rediscover swimming tecnique and training. I have been an advocate for Race Pace Training for the past 30 years of my 35 year career. Took me 5 years to figure it out to MY satisfaction. In my first book – SprintSalo, I talked about the theory of training with focus on race pace rather than volume. At the time – not so well received. When I took over Irvine Novaquatics in 1990 I had the opportunity to train some incredible talent from an early age (13-15) (Amanda Beard, Mike Cavic, Aaron Peirsol, Jason Lezak, et al) and their training through their high school years was Race Pace Training. I am most proud… Read more »

Reply to  David C Salo, PhD
10 years ago

Sprint Salo – The Original! I know I used my college library to look up your articles and PhD dissertation more than for my own class studying. Thanks for paving the way and it is funny how after such a long time of you putting this out there that there are still so many disagreements.

Speed and giving max effort is a skill. And to go to “the well” is a hard thing both psychologically and physiologically. The great coach learns how to use all of these mixes of training to get the best result for the athlete.

Reply to  Chris Ritter
10 years ago

What a fantastic discussion. Getting a truly max effort from a swimmer repeatedly in workouts is a skill. I find it the biggest challenge of coaching a race pace work.

Thanks for your comments Dr. Salo!

Coach Alex
Reply to  David C Salo, PhD
10 years ago

Thanks for this reply. Dave, I had the opportunity of sharing a cab with you in New Orleans, and I wish I had taken notes on everything you said during the drive over.

I appreciate your response to this and more than anything I appreciate the courage becca had in writing this interesting piece.

Reply to  David C Salo, PhD
10 years ago

Hi Dave,

Very excited to see a coach of your caliber and proven track record joining in the conversation! 😀

If you don’t mind me asking: what were the maximum distance repeats that Ous Mellouli and Haley Anderson completed (both at race pace and otherwise)?

Reply to  David C Salo, PhD
10 years ago

I think that what is really important here is that it is not Ultra Short, Short, Medium, or Long that matters. It is Race Pace training.

Reply to  David C Salo, PhD
10 years ago

Years ago, I had the good fortune to communicate for years cross country with Dave Salo when he was the Physiology Editor of Swimming World magazine. I was coaching a small age group AAU, later USS team. I found that Dave was advocating very low mileage race paced training of swimmers. I was training my swimmers in a similar fashion. As a previous aero space engineer and track/swimming athlete, the concepts made perfect sense to me (and still does) At the time, I had one swimmer (Michelle Griglione) who dominated nationally, the age group free, back, fly and IMs for years. She was trained three days a week, one day a week and NEVER swam more than 1500yds a practice…most… Read more »

10 years ago


I think the information you have shared with everyone is tremendous. I think many coaches that have had success in training high level swimmers have a hard time making the transition to USRPT. Also many of those coaches have been running some form or USRPT just not to it’s purest form. I appreciate that you shared your view on the whole training concept, were willing to disagree on some points and did a fantastic job backing them up. Good luck to you in your future training.

10 years ago

Becca, you are an excellent writer, and come across as very mature for a 16 year old. Perhaps some form of journalism is in your future? Thanks for sharing your thoughts with SwimSwam, it has been extremely educational.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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