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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7 years ago

Just this – how awesome is Becca Mann? I have a sincere appreciation for her willingness to share, her ability to share, her honesty and her thoughtfulness. She really is affecting her sport.

Thanks Becca.

Reply to  swimcoach
7 years ago

Amen to that. Very interesting blogs.

bobo gigi
7 years ago

Thanks for your blogs. Very interesting.
I’m curious to know what Philippe Lucas or Gregg Troy think about that training method. 😆

7 years ago

Very interesting. I have to say I agree with Becca much more than I agree with pure USRPT.

I think a more nuanced view (like Becca’s) is probably more practical and useful then 100% usrpt. Specifically I think dryland is a big help in swimming. Almost every sports does some form of weight training of body weight dryland. Track sprinters do it tons, distance runners do lots of core exercises and even some weights too. Gymnasts lift, football players lift, baseball players lift, tennis players lift, boxers lift, wrestlers lift.

Even people with highly specific, technique based actions like a quarterback throwing or a tennis player hitting lift weights, often specific to their motion. The way I see… Read more »

Reply to  mcgillrocks
7 years ago


A few years back…Frank Busch gave a talk at ASCA and one point he brought up was the difference in the “fitness” levels of the Olympians in 2004 compared to those in 2000 and how much “fitter” all of the athletes looked. He also said that he expected the fitness levels of 2008 to be even higher than 2004.

This past August, Dr. Rushall presented at Randy Reese’s conference and one morning I got to have breakfast with him and specifically pressed him on his point that dryland is a waste of time…and he explained to me that he agreed that overall general fitness enhanced swimming…but maintained that there was absolutely no carryover from dryland to swimming. So it… Read more »

Reply to  NMCoach
7 years ago

To completely discount dryland training, you’d expect Dr. Rushall to rigorously test his hypothesis. To the best of my understanding, his hypothesis is that dryland training, lifting, and other “out-of-water” activities do not contribute to increased speed in the water, in part because these are gravity-based activities and in part because they are non-specific, not only to race-pace training, but to swimming biomechanics in general.

This seems fairly easy to test if he was so inclined to do so. For instance, he could set up a control group of swimmers that do weight training and those that don’t, with everything else being equal. If Dr. Rushall is correct, the weight-lifting group should perform the same, if not worse, than… Read more »

Reply to  theroboticrichardsimmons
7 years ago

“This seems fairly easy to test if he was so inclined to do so. For instance, he could set up a control group of swimmers that do weight training and those that don’t, with everything else being equal. If Dr. Rushall is correct, the weight-lifting group should perform the same, if not worse, than the control group.”

Reply to  SprintDude9000
7 years ago

23 ppl? That’s not really significant. It’s interesting that there’s such a high correlation, but I wouldn’t put much weight (ha) in it until somebody does something where N is like 500 or 1000.

Reply to  SprintDude9000
7 years ago

That also is only implied for 23 girls. As the rest of the study shows there is a difference between the correlations of what helps guys and what helps girls. This is shown by average yardage per a week helping girl distance swimmers but not being a factor in the guys. It is possible that this helps one of the other groups even though it hurts the girl sprinters. To claim that drylands hurt 23 girls sprinters with r= .438 (this actually a positive correlations so I am some what confused) so it must hurt all swimmers of every age, gender, and race type is ludicrous. If this is the basis of Dr. Rushall’s no dryland argument I would have… Read more »

Reply to  SprintDude9000
7 years ago

This is a flawed study.

First, what is classified as a sprinter? Did they only look at freestylers, or were some included that were swimming 100s of strokes?

Second, it doesn’t account for age from what I can tell. I could easily see the data being skewed by younger swimmers who are improving as they mature, but are not engaged in the same amount of dry-land as older swimmers. This would be looking at a 16 year old girl who just dropped lots of time in her 50 freestyle in the past year, then looking at a 21 year old who does more dry-land and didn’t drop as much time, then saying that clearly weights don’t work and hurt… Read more »

Reply to  SprintDude9000
7 years ago

Great job finding the article. However, doesn’t show much. The term “dry land” training is very vague in that study. Also, reference Dave Salo et al below for a person who does advocate weight training.

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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