Reply To: How do I time myself?

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Gary P

I use a Speedo SD55137. Got it off Amazon, although it’s not currently available there. I did find one on ebay out of England:

I like this over the tempo-timer because you can program different intervals for the swim and recovery cycles. I’ve only had it 3 months, but I’m very pleased so far. It’s much better than trying to use the facility’s pace clock, especially for 25’s. Even though the local pool has high-brightness digital display pace clocks at both ends of the pool, rarely are the two in exact sync. Once oxygen deprivation started kicking in, I was always fumbling with he mental math of adjusting touch time targets and start intervals.

There are a couple limitations, however. First, You can only set the intervals to whole seconds. You have to estimate fractions of seconds. For example, if I’m trying to swim 14.5’s for 25’s, I set it for 15 seconds and expect to touch a bit before the alarm goes off. At best, you can probably estimate quarter-second intervals. Secondly, the vibration generator isn’t terribly strong. If it goes just as you’re touching the wall with a hard driving stroke, it’s hard to feel. I set it up to both beep and vibrate to double my chances of getting the proper notification. Also, at the end of an interval, the alarm beeps and vibrates twice. I tend to hold the touch for a moment, waiting to feel the second vibration and/or hear the second beep. I have developed a pretty good mental idea of how long that wait should be. If it’s too short, I know I touched too late.

There’s also an anomaly in the operation that I had to work around. You can set from 1 to 10 intervals in a cylce. Then you can choose one of three options to do at the end of a cycle; stop, count time up, or repeat. For USPRT, the obvious idea is to set two intervals (swim, rest), and choose repeat. However, at the end of a cycle, the vibration and/or beep continues until you hit a button or until ~ 10 seconds before the end of the next interval. It’s kind of annoying, and it takes away the ability for the “pause at touch, wait to hear/feel the second alarm” method described above because you don’t know how many beeps past the original one you are. Also, this watch has just a regular watch battery so I suspect extended vibration periods would drain it fairly quickly.

I work around this issue by programming the first interval for 1 second, the second interval for the desired target swim time, and the third for the desired rest period minus one second. For example, if I’m doing 75’s at :52 pace, I set the intervals for :01, :52, and :19. Since the the time at the end of the cycle to the next alarm is less than ten seconds,the extended alarm is eliminated. As a mater of fact, since it’s less than two seconds, its just a short blip, then one second later comes the more pronounced double beep/buzz to start.