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Kevin,
Interesting question, your controlled example is Parametric System Strategy I with “speed constant, distance increasing”.

Your question regarding periodization within the USRPT/Parametric Systems is also interesting. If you are coming from a more traditional approach say Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky’s “Programming and Organization of Training” or Dr. Tudor Bompa’s “Theory and Methodology of Training” You will struggle big time. I know I was there. It’s a totally different paradigm and one that takes constant attention to.

In the Parametric System (PS) development of the energy systems really happens in unison with each set (there are defined sets in the PS) and as you move through they will roughly progress together over the course of the season. We call “it climbing the mountain”. There is no singular emphasis on early season aerobic phase followed by anaerobic threshold, then Vo2 and on and on.

If you understand energy systems (I know bad words for the USRPT purists) both systems utilize endurance through speed. If you think about it low numbers with high speed to start, whether you control them or they are uncontrolled, as the athlete makes adaptation defined by increasing numbers made it becomes more endurance e.g. 4-6 x 25 (hurts like a 100) at the start of the season but is not the same as 20 x 25 later on (hurts like a 500). I hope that makes sense.

I think you are right with the mental approach in it’s a lot easier to face in a controlled approach of 8 x distance then may be 12 x distance then constantly seeing 20 x distance. We’ve done it both ways and the input from the kids is they like stating out with small numbers and build throughout season. “Climbing the mountain”

Thoughts on your “note” “incrementally adjusting performance criteria in a set to stimulate improvement” “The big question is how do you plan this, and do/can you plan this at all? Any and all adjustments we make are based off the athlete’s improvement in numbers when they can achieve “maxing out” twice in a row. e.g. 12 for 12 then may be later in the week 12 for 12 again. We will either adjust speed/pace or increase numbers never both at the same time. This gets REAL messy if you have say 20 plus kids in a group all adapting at different rates and at different times in the season. I guess short answer is no 

Thoughts on peaking/unloading question. We use 3-4 days much like Salo, time to drop the bottom out then drop the bottom out. Day 1 a 25% reduction in set volumes or number of sets, Day 2 another 25% Day 3 is an extended meet warm-up and Day 4 is meet warm-up. There is nothing you can do in those 4 days that going to change the outcome of their performances. Years ago Ernie Maglischo told me “when in doubt error on the side of REST.
Just another idea and does work well for an in-season meet that you would like to swim fast at without too much disruption to the cycle.

Parametric System, I’m afraid that boat has sailed unless you want to pay 3S. Over 17 plus years ago it was the “flavor of the month” and the guys doing it had very good results even with a little knowledge of how the whole system worked. But you have to be diligent in your record keeping and I’m afraid to say that for the majority of swim coaches that’s not a strong skill and most went on to something else. I know of only two coaches that still use the PS (not thru 3S)and they mainly stick to teaching it to their staffs and may be do an occasional clinic.

Soapbox here. I see the same thing happening with USRPT. Sounds great “let the kids’ record numbers and time themselves” and all you have to do is stand back and watch technique. RRRRRight. I think there is a post just recently that talked about the kids started out recording numbers and it’s become hit and miss. My question is how do coaches make adjustments if they have no data? Just because you wrote down 20 x’s something doesn’t mean that’s what they made.

Just thoughts.

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