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Lefthanded swimmer,

I don’t think there is a magic number of reps that translates to the race time. Although, I think the minimum needed would be about 10 before the first fail on the 25’s. 10-15 reps may or may not translate, but 15 is more likely than 10. Anything 16 or more will almost certainly translate though. Going to 30 is excessive and you may be waiting forever to get there. Cut it off at 20 and move the pace down once he makes 14-16 reps before the first fail. I think the first fail point is more important than the total of all 3. For example I think failing on rep 13,15,17 is better than 10,14,18.

As far as the rest interval goes, I think it depends on the stroke and the swimmer. I think the ideal rest can vary from swimmer to swimmer. I’ve been doing USRPT for 1.75 years. I have done the strict Rushall intervals on 15 and 20 seconds and I have also done more rest for both 100’s and 200 pace work. I started improving on the 100’s when I adding more rest, especially on the breaststroke. With a 1:1 work rest ratio on breast I just couldn’t generate the power I needed to stay on pace. I wouldn’t even be breathing hard on the fails, I just didn’t have the strength to stay on speed. I got stuck doing around 6-10 reps before the first fail for a while. I switched to a 1:2 rest ratio and improved quickly. At the time, I wasn’t doing any 200 pace work but I was still able to translate my 100 breast practice pace into the meet even though I had a ton of rest.

Right now, I am doing sets for 100 fr/fl/br and 200 br/fl. For the rest I am doing 100 fr-24.7 fl-20.6 br-36.0, 200- br-21.48 fl-24.0. I took off 5 months from fly to train other events and have only been doing fly sets for a couple of months. I have never done 200 fly sets until these past couple of months. I am still struggling doing 5-8 before the first fail on the 200 sets. I think it is helping my 100 pace sets though. I have been steadily improving on the 100 set. I’ve seen on this forum that someone went to USRPT clinic and Peter Andrew said that after some time off, MA gets back up to his 100 pace faster when he does 200 sets. If you have followed his career, you know that when he is in his top 200 form, his 100’s are also at their best.

For your son, I would add a little more rest. 14.5 seconds is probably too short for him. Keep the 14.5 pace but do it on 35. He should be able to breeze through that in a week or two. The difference between 15 and 20 seconds rest is big. Once he gets to 14-16 reps before the first fail move the pace down to 14.0 on 35 seconds. If he still struggles with 20 seconds at the beginning than add some more rest. I don’t think the extra rest will hurt his 100 but the lower you can keep it without sacrificing speed the better. I’m not experienced enough to offer an opinion on the rest for 200 fly sets. I did 33-34 seconds rest for 200 free sets for a while and it was brutal. It wore me down and I swam awful towards the end of the week. Switching to 23-25 seconds rest, I was able to go a whole week without wearing down too much. That’s why I went with 24 seconds rest for my 200 fly set.

Another way to look at the USRPT sets is that you are training yourself to go a certain time at near exhaustion. When doing a set of 20×25’s you are actually training more for the back half of the race. If you break down the splits for the 100’s you will find that your USRPT pace on the first, second, and probably third lap when you adjust for the turn time is actually faster than the time you hold in practice. The fourth lap timed from when the swimmers feet leave the wall to when his hand touches at the finish will be right at or just above his USRPT pace. It’s a big misconception that USRPT swimmers hold a consistent pace throughout the 100. If you break it down, you will find that the last lap of a 100 or the last 50 of a 200 will be pretty much dead on the pace that you hold in practice. I read that the day before MA went 46.95 in the 100 fly he made 20 25’s holding 11.7 and did a 100 breast set holding 13.5 and failed on 13 and 14. If you breakdown the splits on that 46.95 video and time it from when his feet leave the wall to when his hand touches just like it’s timed in a USRPT set, his first 3 laps are faster than 11.7 and his last lap was 11.6-11.8. When he went 54.04 in the 100 breast his third and fourth lap adjusted for turn time were dead on 13.5. When Josh Davis was training 50 frees on a minute holding 25.0’s his last 50 from when his feet left the 150 wall was dead on 25 flat. Another masters swimmer who wrote on his website that he was holding 32 highs on 20 seconds rest for 200 breast was dead on the money for his last 50 and faster on the first 3 50’s. When I was training 17.5’s scm for 100 breast my last 50 was 33.97 in scy. A breast turn takes 1-1.2 seconds. I’m probably on the slower end so 33.97-2.4= 31.57. 31.57/2= 15.785 which would be the average for the last 2 laps. The conversion to meters is 15.785*1.11= 17.52 which is exactly the pace I was training at. So a variety of rest intervals produced the same result.

Whatever pace you are going right before failure is what you are going to go in a meet. Going to failure is crucial. Doing a certain number a reps on the best average is a terrible idea. I see a lot people say that people aren’t robots you can’t just do the same sets all the time. In a way, people are a little bit like robots when it comes to training. Going race pace to failure is like writing code on a cpu. There is so much evident that the pace you hold near exhausted will be almost exactly what you go in the back half of a race. Like Doc said, it is really not that hard.