Two years ago, Colorado Torpedoes Swim Team head coach, Roy Chaney, found himself looking for a change. He and his 90-swimmer club team, based in Manitou Springs, Colorado, had experienced great success in the pool over the years. Like all clubs, though, they also experienced the typical workout repetitiveness, swimmer injuries and motivational highs and lows that comes along with that success.
In an effort to instill a spark in the team and direct them on a new path of accomplishment, Chaney began researching different training approaches and programs. Chaney also started questioning why he had so many times measured a practice’s success by how many yards his team had tackled that day, when the sport of swimming encompasses so much more than that. He began to think more about why the team’s current training environment was leaving swimmers bored and, some degree, unmotivated.
It was around this same time that, through his coaching research, Chaney started learning about the concept of Ultra Short Race Paced Training (USRPT). Having been a coach who was established in the conventional training methodology of ‘more yardage equals more success’, Chaney was intrigued by the notion that attacking a practice with less yardage, but with an intense focus on technique at a race pace, could yield significant improvements in swimmers.
After studying the methodology, Chaney’s review of the scientific evidence of USRPT’s application in swimming progress, as well as his own curiosity, led to his implementation of the program with the Torpedoes Senior Group. After a period of both swimmers and coach familiarizing themselves with putting USRPT into practice and adjusting to the overall change in their day-to-day in-pool work, the swimmers started embracing the new approach and Chaney noticed a new aura of enthusiasm every day at the pool. He was delighted to see swimmers starting to build confidence in themselves again. Repeating the race pace sets enabled each swimmer to receive instant feedback from his or her coach, which Chaney says then “empowered the swimmers to see the direct correlation between effort and improvements.”
This connection between energy output and technique gave swimmers the motivation to want to improve on their swimming with each and every set, says Chaney. Instead of churning out the yardage, Chaney found his kids looking forward to seeing how far they could take their sets of 25s or 50s sprint while maintaining both their technique as well as goal time.
A feeling of excitement spread throughout the entire group, which was then validated once the team arrived at their first meet post-USRPT implementation. Chaney saw virtually every one of his swimmers, both sprinters and distance athletes alike, drop time across their events. At the meet, as each athlete stepped on the blocks, Chaney noticed a “renewed racing confidence in his swimmers that he had never seen before.” Chaney realized that, through USRPT, his swimmers were “not training to be great interval swimmers, but that they were indeed training to be great racers.”
Seeing results day-in and day-out, while keeping swimmers fresh, confident and empowered has kept Chaney on the USRPT track. Chaney encourages other swimmers and coaches to see first-hand how the method works for the Torpedoes.
Area coaches and swimmers will have that chance at the Mutual of Omaha Breakout! Swim Clinic hosted by the Colorado Torpedoes Swim Team on Thursday, July 9th. National Age Group record holder and USRPT pioneer, Michael Andrew, will be present at the clinic, offering kids aged 8-18 years old a chance to see the internationally accomplished swimmer up close. Attendees will be able to study Andrew’s technique across all four strokes and learn how his “total-person” approach to swimming makes him so successful both in and out of the pool. Host Coach Chaney is looking forward to having swimmers see for themselves how hard work and dedication can make dreams come true, whatever those dreams end up being.
Michael Andrew is on a rapid rise to the national swimming scene and then possibly the world stage. He has broken 76 National Age Group records in all strokes, long course meters and short course yards. His success gets plenty of attention, but he keeps it all in check and focused on his goals. “My swimming doesn’t define me,” he said. He credits his parents for taking the pressure off, which he readily admits he applies himself.
Josh Davis was the first American to go 1:46 in the 200m free at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He just recently broke his own Masters American Record in the 40-45 age group going :20.6 He has been leading the Mutual Of Omaha BREAKout! Swim Clinic Tour for 8 years to challenge the next generation of swimmers to work harder, swim smarter and have more fun. Josh is a proud 2 breather and he will race anybody, anytime, anyplace.