How do you explain USRPT to your swimmers?

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    I am starting to incorporate this training method with my group, and so far my biggest issues have been with understand what we I am trying to get them to do. They either don’t get the idea of when they miss their target time back to back repeats they are done (I have anywhere between 20-30 swimmers at practice I have no way of keeping track of each one) or some have yet to get what race pace is, that their target time is not a suggestion but actually a requirement.

    Do you guys have a good way of explaining?


    The key point I always stress is that we’re doing a set where you have to delay failure as long as possible.

    Say you do a short set of 16×25 @RP100

    First I started with having them complete all 16 repetitions, and simply take note of the first time they failed and how much times they failed in total.

    Then (after 1 or 2 weeks of short sets) I progressed by explaining them that when they fail the first time, they rest one (or two, so they rejoin the group). When they fail a second time they need to abandon the set, get out of the pool and come and tell me what the first failure was and how many they did after the rest (e.g. “I did 10 and 5”).

    After 1 or 2 more weeks I sat them down again and explained that they could continue up until a third failure with a rest after each failure. At this point they already got the hang of it.

    Another week later I introduced the 2 failures in a row rule. Still having them come out of the pool and mention first failure and how many successful repeats.

    The last step was providing them with a sheet of paper so they can record their progress.

    It takes a bit of time, but it’s feasible when done in steps.


    I think that makes a lot of sense, Kevin. The most difficult part I find is that swimmer’s still think they are successful only if they complete the entire set. I have one athlete in particular who would leave early, fudge her time, and refuse to accept new time standards because she didn’t want to “fail” on any set. The first thing I will do differently next year is eliminate the word “fail” for a missed time. The psychology attached to this brings way too much shame with it. I am going to ask them to give me the “maxed out” number. I am going to explain to them that this is the number of succesful reps they were able to do maxing out at the desired race pace. If they fail on #12 then there maxed out # is 11. I know this might sound silly, but I believe it will make a difference.

    I know next year that I am really going to have to take some extra time during the first 2 weeks to really hammer home the new definition of a successful practice.

    Greg McMullen

    When a swimmer fails, what type of recovery work do you have them do, and how long?

    I’m new to this and that’s the part that confuses me. Warm-ups are 5 minutes long and sets have the potential to last a while once someone fails out completely. Are they constantly active? Working on stroke technique? Or do they do 200-300 yards and just sit until everyone’s done?

    So let’s say we have 30×50 on :60 and someone fails out on 15. What should they be doing for the last 15 minutes of that set?

    Greg Tucker

    We have had success with lingo that says “success is failure, failure is success”.

    We also stress personal accoutabity to keep up with your times, reps to failure, leaving on time, etc).

    Greg Tucker

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