NBAC Coach Bob Bowman Comments on USRPT – Video Interview

Swimming video edit by Coleman Hodges

NBAC Head Swim Coach Bob Bowman – Michael Phelps’ long-time coach – comments on USRPT (aka Ultra Short Race Pace Training). This was a followup question regarding the success of age group swim star Michael Andrew. Bowman has been asked this question a few times over the last several months. Bowman maintains race pace training is important, but that he does not solely coach race pace training to his swimmers. He prefers a mix of training.

Michael Andrew is coached by Peter Andrew, his father, aka Team Andrew.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago

A lot of the negative comments about MA and race pace training in general, are probably from a lot of “Old School Swim Coaches” emphasis on OLD!

Many would rather have a swimmer fail doing it their way, rather than succeed doing something not on their agenda.

Their are far to many ego driven coaches around, it is almost an epidemic. Ive seen coaches take talented age group swimmers and drive them directly in Distance freestyle training no matter what they have shown promise in. Their is no ONE SIZE FITS ALL IN SWIMMING.

7 years ago

That is a tough question: what worked?
Was it the better sleep, food, training, mood, parenting …. ?

–> “Victory has a thousend fathers….”

Poor MA! He will get on the block knowing everybody will comment on his performance
and even the skill of his father. What a burden. Good luck to him!

Reply to  MKo
6 years ago

Don’t all swimmers (or sportspeople for that matter) at elite level go onto the blocks knowing that everybody will comment on their performance? It’s is the nature of sport and nothing new.

8 years ago

it is extremely disappointing to observe Mr Bowman’s clear lack of understanding of the training method. Throughout the interview he refers to his beliefs and opinions on how training should be formatted.

It is very evident that Bowman has not comprehensively researched USRPT, something I find very worrying considering the “elite” coach status he holds – you would like he would have a more extensive answer as to why he believes the USRPT format shouldn’t be the single entity in a swimmers programme.

Although, swimming is not yet an exact science, there is enough evidence out there for Bowman to look at and discover how USRPT is a very extensive researched method of training- or better yet check… Read more »

ken baker
8 years ago

What’s of interest to me – is the “buzz” that USRPT is getting all of a sudden – primarily due to the success of the Andrews Family.

I know Peter and Michael are committed to this methodology – and why not? It’s provided results! – AND – what people don’t get – is that yeah, maybe one day – when Michael is done growing and starts to see his times plateau – he can add other elements to help him – like weights or resistance training – but in the meantime – why not let him go get all he wants.

Historically speaking – Michael is erasing the book on the greatest age group swimmer ever – Chas Morton –… Read more »

8 years ago

I keep asking for the program that uses USRPT and produces national level distance swimmers. The responses that I get are along the lines of “…my 13 year old dropped 30 seconds in his 500 this season after implementing USRPT”…

I want to know which program uses USRPT with their sub 15:00 milers. Please don’t say Salo…totally different program than USRPT…Kieren Perkins averaged around 80K per week…hardly USRPT.

Does it work for Michael Andrew? ABSOLUTELY
Is USRPT the only method that is successful? ABSOLUTELY NOT

Reply to  NMCoach
8 years ago

Re: Salo. How so? Yes, USRPT is on the extreme end of the spectrum, but the core of each is race pace. What is the difference that accounts for Salo’s success and USRPT’s lack?

Again, while I favor a low volume, high intensity approach, I’d say I’m way closer to Salo than Rushall, I just want to know what you mean when you say they are totally different.

And while it’s true that most distance programs go high mileage, I think it’s unfair to ask which low volume clubs are pumping out good milers without first figuring out how many are trying in the first place. It’s a question of correlation and causation.

One more thing: personally, I think you… Read more »

Reply to  Sven
8 years ago

Although it’s important to point out that those are the scheduled yardages. If your swimmer completes all of that at pace, he or she should increase the pace.

So knock a bit of yardage off to account for the failure that the program demands. I don’t think that changes my point, though.

8 years ago

This is turning into a pro-life vs. pro-choice argument. One side will accept nothing but their view, and the other is willing to find value in all options but maintains that there should be a choice. If those are the options, I’ll take pro-choice. It is the ability for athletes to choice their training environment that keeps the US at the top of swimming after all.

Pro Life
Reply to  RK
8 years ago

You don’t understand why people would accept only their side when the other option is killing babies?

Reply to  Pro Life
8 years ago

Anddd that’s about enough of this conversation. We can either get back on the topic of swimming, or you guys can go discuss your political views elsewhere.


Reply to  Braden Keith
8 years ago

Braden SMASH

8 years ago

Personally, I think Bob Bowman is right on the money with this. Also, I feel like he brings up a few really good points. I think USRPT-like training is very important, and moving on, I feel more and more coaches will implement more of this approach. However, I do not think it is the single method to coach ALL swimmers. I completely agree with Bob’s thoughts on a more holistic approach to coaching, rather than the rush to say this USRPT is the greatest invention to come to swimming, since the use of goggles.

I think what many people don’t think about, regarding MA, is the type of races he swims, which are predominately short swims. It has yet… Read more »

Reply to  Justinl
8 years ago

“I think what many people don’t think about, regarding MA, is the type of races he swims, which are predominately short swims.”

I disagree and would actually go so far as to say it’s the most common concern with MA and, by association, USRPT. Hence all the “USRPT is great for sprinters but that’s it” comments. Michael specializes in the shorter events, yes, but those shorter events constitute 10 of the 14 competitive events (50, 100’s, 200’s, and 200 IM).

Dominant distance swimmer using race pace? Ous Mellouli. Won gold in the open water and bronze (iirc) in the 1500m in London. It may not be USRPT, and Salo’s methods, while scientific, certainly have that “holistic” feeling that Bowman talks… Read more »

Reply to  Sven
8 years ago

But race pace training is really different from USRPT. Kieren Perkins also did race pace.
I just can’t see how USRPT is solely used by distance training.

Reply to  aswimfan
8 years ago

No, USRPT is race pace training. Yes, there are iterations of RP training that incorporate slower swimming as a supplement, but the heart and soul of the two are the same. So if Kieren Perkins could have the success he did under such a model, why is it inconceivable to you that a more stripped down regimen (USRPT) could yield similar results?

Reply to  Sven
8 years ago

I agree with your point regarding 10 out of 14 swims consisting of the shorter events. So, maybe something like USRPT or USRPT-like would beneficial as a central training method for top level swimming. Certainly, MA’s splits are very solid. However, I am not totally convinced it is something that should be used in age-group swimming. I have trouble wrapping my mind around how a coach could effectively do this with 20-30 kids. On Indie Swimming’s website, it says they train in a two lane pool, so in MA’s case, his swim group size is probably one or maybe two.

I recognize your point about using USRPT in a college like setting, where there are multiple coaches and more… Read more »

Reply to  Justinl
8 years ago

Right, space is definitely the limiting factor, and I can’t give splits to 20 kids, so you have to get creative and the kids have to shoulder the responsibility of getting their time/doing the math and knowing their intervals. I read your question as being more about the management of the practice than the programming, is that right?

If you teach the kids how to push off at the correct time, and do a perfect finish before quickly looking to the clock, they can get their times to within .2-.5 of their goal split. This is especially true at pools with large digital pace clocks (which, in my area at least, is most of them). For example, my rule is… Read more »

Reply to  Sven
8 years ago


You cannot compare Salo to USRPT…Dave sent me a set that he had given to his “Long Sprinters” as he likes to call them…main set was 5500 and had a ton of fast swimming in there. Hardly comparable to USRPT.

Keeping it real
8 years ago

I agree with Bowman here. USRPT is good training as “part” of a program….. and it is nothing new… you can find dozens of examples of people that have done this. Randy Reese spoke about the value of 80×25 @ the 1980 World Clinic. I just looked at an old swimming book (Councilman’s Competitive Swimming Manual) and I saw an Australian swimmer from the early 1970’s….Sonya Gray that swam the 100 and 200 Free…. Lot’s of 25’s and 50’s on short rest with multiple repeats…some sets look exactly like USRPT…. Councilman talked of experimenting with this type of training in the 1960’s.

You people that claim that the “science” doesn’t lie…. you have to read all the science…. not… Read more »

Reply to  Keeping it real
8 years ago

Thanks keeping it real. UFRPT will never be ‘The Way’. All athletes are NOT the same. One of the reasons the American ‘system’ works is because of all the coaches out there doing things differently. One way works for one athlete and another way works for another. Dana Vollmer crumbled working with Gregg Troy and blossomed with Terri McKeever. Isn’t it great that she could go try something different? Isn’t it interesting that Caitlyn Leverentz and Elizabeth Beisel both medaled in the 400 IM? What do you think would happen if we switched their programs? Many athletes will be drawn to what makes them successful. If their body adapts strongly due to aerobic stimulus then they need aerobic work mixed… Read more »

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

Read More »