Reply To: My USRPT Success Story as a Self-Coached Master

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Gary P


I mostly did just one USRPT set per workout. In the beginning, it was because I would get leg/calf cramps when trying to exert myself on a second set. I was getting 2-3 exposures a week each to 30 x 25 @ 100 pace and 30 x 50 @ 200 pace. Later, when I’d switched emphasis from the 200 to the 400, it was because the 400 set took pretty much all the time I had. I would offer 40 X 50 a couple times a week and 25 x 75 three times a week. I let the 30 x 25’s offering fall to just once a week until about 4 weeks out, then I brought it back to twice a week. On top of that, I did an occasional high effort long distance swim (800-2100 yards) to work on my pacing for an open water event, along with some occasional all-out, no-breath sprint 25’s with long rest to tune up for the 50.

In retrospect, that turned out to be an overload on the 400 work. At one point, my progression stalled out, then actually regressed a little bit. About 7 weeks before the Championship meet, I swam a 400 Long Course in a local meet, my first exposure to that format since I came back to the sport. My time converted to about 12 seconds slower than I had done in a 500 yard Short Course 15 weeks prior. I knew it while I was swimming it, too, since I could see my splits on the scoreboard at each 100, but I just couldn’t go any faster; my arms felt like mush by the 100 mark. That kind of shook my confidence momentarily, but I managed to get over it and looked for lessons to be learned. First, I recognized that the Long Course format was considerably more demanding that I had remembered, and that, in practicing short course, I had been relying on turns for both rest(arms), and speed. I worked on developing a longer, slower turn-over stroke for the early part of the 400. Simultaneously, I worked on a six beat kick for the back half to hopefully keep the overall speed up as my arms were fatiguing. (Previously, I had only done a six beat for the 50 and 100, where I was breathing no more than every 4th stroke, and hadn’t developed a six beat to use in combination with my every-other-stroke breathing on longer distance events). At the same time, I recognized that I probably wasn’t allowing myself enough recovery. I started tweaking the rest interval variable a bit. Up until that point, I had been strictly adhering to the 20 seconds rest rule for 50’s and 75’s. I allowed myself to go to 23 seconds on both distances until my success rate recovered, then started alternating shorter rest at the same pace with the same rest at a slightly faster pace. I stopped doing 75’s all together than last two weeks, and gradually increased the rest while decreasing the volume of 50s’ and 25s. I ended up going 18 seconds faster in the 400 at Nationals than I had in that earlier meet.

As for other strokes, I didn’t take any up because I was over-focused on the 400 free. I will work in a second stroke in the coming year in hopes of not overloading on freestyle again; probably breaststroke.