Doubter USRPT Tried 3 months

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  • This topic has 8 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 8 years ago by doc.
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    lefthanded swimmer

    I am sorry to be writing this. I have a son who is ready to quit after 3 months of doing this. We have done test sets that don’t match up with set output. Quite honestly after 3 months of doing 1.5K yards on a great day to 750 yards on a bad one, he isn’t in shape to perform. I don’t know what to say. I embraced this program and didn’t deviate from it at all.


    Let me guess. You’ve had a couple of bad days and a meet or two and YOU are ready to throw in the towel.

    Did someone tell you this was easy? If they did they lied! You have to be diligent in your record keeping and not just 3 months. You need at least 3 seasons i.e. scy – lcm – scy. So you can see patterns develop, and they do. After that you might have enough information to make some sound adjustments or have enough data that someone with more experience can help you.

    I think YOU are way ahead of yourself without any practical experience. Sure you’ve studied all that Dr. Rushall has posted like a number of other posters on the site and used it as your bible (blind faith is dangerous and the lack of understanding of human physiology is equally). Out in the field of human performance things don’t always happen the way it’s written (most coaches understand that). You had said you were an accountant, life is pretty orderly, rows and columns and everything adds up. But what happens when things don’t add up? You just throw up your hands and quit? Or you do you back track and see where the problem is? Welcome to coaching and most of the coaches out here are working with 24-30 swimmers, not just one, again welcome to coaching!

    Coaching is like investing in the stock market. You invest your money in a couple of stocks named Fr50, Fr100 and Bu100 and at the end of the year you get a return on your investment of Fr50 3%, Fr100 2.6% and Bu100 -1% and so you either make adjustments to try and improve your return on Bu100 or maybe you change the portfolio and drop the Bu100 and add the 2IM. As coaches we are always trying to maximize your returns and we make adjustments accordingly to help our client.

    Really! 3 months.

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    lefthanded swimmer

    You’re obviously a voice of reason. The swimmer is frustrated and I am too. Sorry for venting. It is hard for me to realize anything we do is a 3 seasons out process when the swimmer is a late bloomer. Once 3 seasons are over, it’s time for college and too late. He is already behind the curve. During 12’s, while everyone winning is either lithe as a butterfly or man sized with a new prominant adam’s apple, my son turned into Bobby Hill overnight. Now that he is changing physically we aren’t seeing a lot of results with USRPT. It’s frustrating to see done with 25 repeats at 14.5 when his 100 test set (rested) is at 15.3 for laps 2-4 which is slower than when we started USRPT!

    My take away from your helpful comments is to look at the data and make adjustments.


    Don’t sorry for venting. If you look back at post from doc or oldschool you’ll see I get on my “soapbox” every now and then. It’s OK.

    There are a number of coaches, master swimmers and parents that now coach their kids that think that just because they have read all the bulletins it’s just “plug and play” (if I just follow this everything will be great and wonderful) and that is the furthest thing possible. You have to remember they don’t have any data and if they did they would have posted it! He’s a researcher, and knows better. Their “n” is still one. Which was one of the problems coaches had when this first came out. Look it up.

    I’ve attend clinics on USRPT and not one time did anyone post anything about the ebb and flow of a season, not once. We’re just suppose to except this because they have published 51+ bulletins. I wish it was that simple, boy do I wish. They give the impression that everyone just progresses thru and bingo gets faster.

    It will take roughly 3 seasons to gain reliable data. You can take some wags and swags based off the data from practice before then. But just keep good notes.

    “behind the curve” All sports look for the early maturing athlete. Think about it you’re watching college football on TV and they tout “this kid is a “true” freshman, 6’6′ and 300+lbs. and has a full beard. Really, you don’t need to have a PhD in Exercise Physiology to figure that one out. When the average HS lineman is 5’8″ and 175lbs. You have to be creative and look at lower DI or II schools. That’s the reality.

    I still believe you need to adjust the training to the race specifics. “n x 25 on 1:00” as 1/2 of first 50 pace and “n x 50 on 2:00” as 2nd 50 of 100. Everything from a push.

    I’ve attached some files for your review of our past season for “n x 25 stk on 1:00” and “n x 50 stk on 2:00”. Some explanations “early season”, we’re “accumulating potential” (money in the bank) “Mid S” is our mid-season shave meet and “Conf.” is what we did at the conference meet. You do have to remember that we’re old guys with a stop watch in practice versus electronic timing 🙂 and faster is always better.

    It does work. But you have to work at it!

    Sorry for the lengthy reply.

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    You must be logged in to view attached files.

    @lefthanded-swimmer: I understand your frustration, we’ve been doing USRPT for 2-3 years now, and I sometimes doubt what I’m doing. You have to think and plan on the longer term, tomorrow is not (that) important. Where you and your swimmer want to be in a year/two years is what you should be concerned with. Especially since he’s developing physically, don’t underestimate the impact of that, a temporary regression in performance is actually quite common.

    It’s hard and uncertain, but make choices for the longer term and stick with them. Whatever you pick, it boils down to working hard, regardless of the training method. As Philippe Lucas says: working hard is not guarantee for succes, but not working hard is a guarantee for failure.

    : (offtopic) If I remember correctly, around 3 weeks before a major competition you do test/evaluation sets (4×25 on 1:00, 6×50 on 1:00 etc.). How exactly are you planning these, do the swimmers get any rest/recovery in between the nx25 and nx50? I’m looking for a reliable, in-season evaluation process (other than meets), to make adjustments.

    lefthanded swimmer

    Thanks for the additional information Doc. He took a day off and is ready to get back to work! I reminded him that test sets off the wall could be at LEAST 2 seconds off for a true 100. What are your thoughts? I guess it could be even more if you are training anaerobically under USRPT. I also wonder on test sets what is the best producer of results in regards to warm up. Moderate warm up no sprints. Short warm up with some short sprints. What’s your experience on meet warm ups?


    These are a snapshot of a total of 10, I track for a 48 member team. Let’s look at the attached file labeled “v2” which is “n x 50 on 2:00”. We’ll take swimmer #1, has a training pace (TP) of 24.71, this is a no slower than speed. Early season (each column is a meet performance split off official results). You can see that performances ebb and flow but not far off from (TP) the one that’s 29.41 is actually a 2IM back split as we were contemplating swimming 2IM. You can see the conference (conf) split lines up pretty well with (TP) and what they had done all season (2nd place and BT 100fly and 1st place, conference record and BT 200fly).

    There is no reason to “expect being 2 seconds slower” is acceptable. BE on PACE. All 50s are from a push and mimic the race with regards to underwater work, turn speeds, cycles and tempo. It has to or they are unable to make their time. It forces them to think under fatigue and execute and the body to deliver energy at that speed. If you look at attached file “v1” you see roughly the same ebb and flow.

    The most interesting information is the #O (number offered), #M (number made) and % of TO (percentage of number made from number offered) columns. Especially, the #M. You see that it really doesn’t take much to create an improvement in performance. Just because you can do a boat load of 25s at a speed that is to slow to the actual race so what.The problem is the majority of coaches don’t write down nor track this information and really miss out on some critical adjustments that can help avoid or at least try and avoid a disaster. This is all easily set-up in Excel. Don’t need to be an accountant or IT guy. I have a degree in Physical Education and I figured it out. (YouTube great resource) 🙂 Now you hopefully see why it’s a 3 season process to gain the data.

    With regards to the “warm-up” Do whatever you (the athlete) think you need to, to get yourself ready to swim fast. Be it at the club or college level. I hate the “What should I do for warm-up?”. They swim some type of warm-up ever day before practice. Pick one. Second most hated is “How do you want me to swim this race?” the answer is “You will swim it very close to how you train it”. It’s a learned helplessness (T.Mc). Take OWNERSHIP.

    Again it’s not that hard. You just have to work at it.

    Sorry for the long diatribe. I’ll stop.

    I didn’t do them with the college kids as we competed so often with back to back weekends, a weekend off and then another competition. I figured it was too much. Worked out fine and was still able to make adjustments when needed.

    When I was doing them. Yes, they had a full recovery between say 4 x 25 on 1:00 and 6 x 50 on 1:00. Lot of times it was just one test per day.

    In-season evaluations. Currently I’m using “number made” especially when they make depending on the set 12-16 in a row. In fact we’re experimenting with the group staying over the summer with sets like “make 16 in a row say 50s stk on 1:00” you’re done with that set. They have responded very well and when they rattle off 12-16 in a row it’s time to adjust pace. Then comes the tricky part of “How much of an adjustment?”

    Hopefully this makes sense 🙂

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    Lefthanded swimmer, I wouldn’t put much weight on doing a full race test sets in practice. I’ll do them every once in a while just for fun and my times are usually not close to my best times. I actually did a 100 fly short course meters last Friday. Right now I am training at 16.48 with a tempo trainer so really 15.5 from when my feet leave the wall to when my hand touches. This would estimate me at a 1:02 with a block start. I didn’t do any sets before. I did a warm up and that was it. I did it from a push timing with the digital pace clock starting to drop at the 59 on the start. I went a 1:06. I don’t have 25 splits but I know that front end speed is slower and the last lap is slower than what I would do in a meet. The middle 50 is closer to a real race but still probably a little slow. My fly training has been going decent and I felt like I could have put in a good USRPT 100 fly set that day. You do need some rest to go a top time in USRPT. If I did a 3 day protocol of dropping the distance offered by 50% for 2 days then a meet warm up on the third day I have no doubt that I could go a 1:02 with a block start on day 4.

    You don’t need a lot of rest in USRPT but the idea that you can go a best time on any given day without any kind of rest is a little misleading. I’m looking back at my notes. In the week leading up to a meet in January I had a subpar training week but was still able to do well in the meet after resting. The meet was on a Sunday morning. On the Wednesday before I did a 100 free set failing on 12,14,17. Then I did some 15’s from the blocks working on my starts, underwaters, and breakouts. After that I took a full rest and did 2 25’s all out free from the block to the hand touch. This was in scy and I went 10.8 on both of them. That would put me at 11.2 to the feet and something like 11.2/12 for a 23.2 total 50 time. On that Thursday I did 10×25 for 100 breast and turns. Friday I did 10×25 100 free pace and some turns. I took Saturday off completely. On Sunday I went a 22.03 in the 50 free. I swam the 100 free and 100 IM earlier that day. From Wednesday to Sunday going 10.8 to the hand all out to going 22.03 4 days later is a big leap. Honestly, I still don’t get it. I should be faster in practice. I wasn’t concerned heading into the meet because I had been slower than I wanted to leading up to some previous meets and ended up going faster than expected. Echoing what Doc said, you need multiple seasons of data to figure this stuff out. So I wouldn’t worry about a 100 fly in practice in the middle of the season. If you go a really fast time, great. But if you go a little slower then it’s not then end of the world as long as your race pace practice sets are going well. The important thing is steady improvement in practice of actual race pace work, not something close to race pace. You wrote in the other thread that you only got 10 on a certain interval. That’s fine don’t worry about going high reps every day. Just aim for 11 next session, 12 the next time and so on. Improvement might halt at some point which is unavoidable but you just have to power through.

    In Michael and Peter Andrews podcast, Peter mentioned that often times they will go down to the pool and MA can’t even get 1 repetition at race pace. I’m not sure how frequent that happens but he used the phrase often times. He said that in the past they felt like they had to do something and they would drop the pace back but when they did that they ended up swimming at that slower pace the next meet. They also said that looking back at the years of training they always have a spot in the season where they stall out and when training isn’t going well they start to have fear, doubt themselves, and doubt the training. This is in episode 5 on their podcast website They also have a step by step breakdown of butterfly technique with underwater video which you may find helpful.

    The fact that doc has been a successful coach for decades and he is experimenting with something should tell you something. This stuff is hard and there will be forks in the road along the way. When USRPT hit the main stream, people got the perception that it was a declaration that it was the end all be all to swim training and everything you ever need to know. That probably wasn’t the intention but that was the impression a lot of people got. USRPT is still evolving. Dr. Rushall added IM specific training to one of the bulletins recently. In the past he was against it and put it in with the category of mixed training produces mix results. I don’t know if Dr. Rushall reads these forums but I am very thankful for his work and publications. I hope he continues to improve on the theory. I think USRPT will continue to improve in the future. I think his work should be used as a guide but not as an exact blueprint. Not even MA follows it exactly. In one of the bulletins it mentioned that he used 20 seconds rest for 100’s and 30 for 200’s for 18 months before dropping the rest interval down. They said they do IM specific stuff with 50’s of fly/bk bk/br and br/fr but they don’t do it exactly the way that Rushall lays it out in the bulletin. They also tried weight lifting even though Rushall is very against it. They may have made more adjustments than those but that is all that I know about. Peter Andrew is a really good coach. He isn’t just sitting back and letting the magic unfold. Michael Andrew will be an Olympian one day because even if they hit road blocks in training, Peter Andrew will adjust and figure out a way to make it happen. Like Doc said it is far from just plug and play. You have to make adjustments based on the long term data and 3 months isn’t enough time.


    I’ll reiterate what Marlin said “Just aim for 11 next session, 12 the next time and so on”. That is a huge key to the puzzle and how you sequence your work has a huge impact on how well they do.

    I don’t even write on the workout anymore “12 x 50 fr on 1:00”. It’s just “50 fr on 1:00” and they have the numbers done posted within the workout from at least the last 4 times they have done the set and a rolling average. All I’m asking them is try like !@## to be better than the last time or better the average. I’m not going to tell you this was easy to do, especially with kids that come from traditional training programs (welcome to college swimming). But they actually enjoyed it and the responses we got back on the end-of-season surveys was extremely positive. A take away from the surveys was they liked the objectivity. Here’s the expectation (TP) and now get it done!

    I know short reply! Shocking 🙂

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