Home Forums General USRPT Topics Suggestions?

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    Hello All,

    I haven’t posted in a long time, we finished our season in February and honestly it felt like a failure. We had some okay times, some PB’s but as a group we were not stellar. Our only real highlight was a girl who went from 24.6, 55.4, 203 in the freestyles to 23.8, 54.8, 204. She had a great meet, but swam the 23.8 on the first day and couldn’t hold speed.

    I know for a fact that we were not very good because of coaching. This was my first trip into USRPT and it was an adjustment for the swimmers and especially me. It took most of the season for me to figure out how to run workouts and track data, etc.

    Here is the hard part, I am an asst. coach at a college. I work exclusively with what we call the sprint group. Now this group is mostly 50-100 people, but we do have people that swim up to the 500 (primary focus being 2 and 5) and some strokers ie 50-100-100 stk or 100st-200st or 100st-100st-200IM. Point of fact my 100 fly, 100 br, 200 IM guy also had a good meet, dropping from 53.0, 103, 203 to 51.9, 100, 159. I did however think that most of those drops came from maturation and not training, but really its just a guess. I digress….

    Anyway, here is my question and I want honesty. Please remember I am the assistant and would like to keep my job. My head coach firmly believes in yardage. More specifically a lot of En2 work and then race pace twice a week, but the race pace is based on their current season times and they swim all of them no matter what. He also believes in training 3 mornings a week and 2-3 60 minute weight sessions.

    He gives me complete control of the sprint group which is great, however here is the rub, we cannot get out early, must to weights etc. I get that, he is the head coach. My question is how do I adjust to USRPT training when I must keep the same schedule as the distance group.

    What I did last year is USRPT in the afternoons (M-F) and recovery/drill in the morning. I know, we don’t need to do slow drill, but personally, with the kids I’m working with we use drills as a way to teach concepts for the strokes so they can at least connect and feel (even slowly) what they need to be doing fast. It isn’t perfect, but it is a great way to teach/learn.

    Anyway, any suggestions for doing USRPT on a defined schedule? I found we were constantly dragging. I also found that working in a full recovery day didn’t really work because we still were in the water for 2 hours, if I had more freedom I probably would have given them workouts off or cut out mornings but that isn’t an option. A pretty common theme was one day we did a set and they did better than last time, then two days of not being able to make RP, then a day slightly better or equal to the first. Please don’t tell me its slow and takes time, I understand that. Motivation was a killer for kids that probably had 1 or 2 acceptable sets a week. I don’t have them during the summer, I can’t even say how many are training though they get constant reminders from me.

    If you made it this far, thank you. What it all boils down to is does anyone have suggestions for working in a system described above. Any ideas would be appreciated, something for me to think about and play with. I have some ideas but would love to hear yours.




    when I say acceptable sets I mean sets that were not immediate or very close to immediate failures. I know our paces weren’t far off, most of them were training at slower than PB times.


    My situation is a bit different to yours. However if you are looking at extending your training time to more match up with what the other groups are doing, I have a few suggestions for you.

    Warm up – my guys spend about 20 to 30min warming up on land prior to entering the water, this warm up consists of arm swinging, leg swinging, knee ups, walking lunges, 2 to 4 laps walking round the pool, skipping etc. After this we do a speed specific set ie swiss ball kicks, jumping fast feet, press up with claps etc. When this is finished they get in the water and will do normally a Salo type water warm up ie 200 choice, 2×100 strokes of the day, 4×25 (usually 15m fast or build into a easy scull on back to the 25mm). Some also then like to do some underwater work or some dives or turns, this I also do at the end of the session usually on a rotation basis ie Mon morning underwater work, mon evening dive and glide, Tue morning wall kicks to turn, Tue afternoon dives to 10 or 15m underwater, after this I cycle back to Mon morning.

    For the Gym I have a specific core routine with stretch cord sets that my swimmers do, if you are interested I will happily send you a copy of it. The gym core work they do Mon and Fri afternoon after the session and Wed afternoon they go to Yoga, for relaxation, focus and stretching. I do not allow them to stretch before a session only after it which they are supposed to do every day for at least 15min but 20min is preferable.

    I hope this gives you some ideas, you did not say much about how you organise a typical session so maybe you do most of what I have suggested already.


    What I read in your post is that you’re worried not to be in the USRPT circle hence not successful.
    According to all experts most important task for a successful coach is teaching swimmers the correct technique. You should ask yourself how can you transfer your notion of a perfect swim stroke into the brains of your swimmers. The skill to teach perfect swimming technique isn’t claimed by USRPT. That means you can be successful as a coach with or without USRPT.
    To teach your swimmers the correct technique I would recommend deliberate practice sessions. There’s scientific evidence that deliberate practice is much more effective than every other method.

    Do you apply results from psychology studies to your training? With the knowledge from such studies you get more often the results you want from your team. How to use psychology in your training sessions isn’t written down in USRPT bulletins but the knowledge is vital for the success of your swimmer.

    Conditioning even though not as important as technique and psychology is the most discussed topic. Your swimmers do USRPT sets and you can’t reproduce the straight line of improvement as shown in the bulletins? You’re not the only one. Fact is adaption comes to a halt when getting the same stimulus over a longer time. You need a new stimulus. Get creative and put in some variations in your conditioning training.


    Welcome to the world of human performance! You are not the sprint coach based on your post. You are more mid-dist. I write workouts for our sprinters and not one of them swims the 500 and on very few occasions the 200s of stroke or IM. You are mid-dist.

    You have to find a way to “hide” be it technical work for the last 15-20 minutes of practice or space it out in 10-12 minute blocks i.e. push-offs to breakouts, turns, starts or underwater work anything that occupies time and doesn’t draw attention to the group and are skills they will need for their events. Hard to argue with!

    You have to adjust/be creative in your thinking.

    ? All that is not shared... is lost.


    Scroll to the end for a schedule that may be helpful.
    But I also want to suggest that what kills the most time is the mental aspect of it. So develop this aspect a bit– a curriculum even? Visualization, relaxation, breathing etc. That eats of a tremendous amount of practice time so you can “hide” a bit. It does have to be practiced A LOT. It takes a lot of practice from me too! I walk them through exercises and I can get rusty if we skip it for a while. Rushall has a .pdf of the mental development somewhere.
    Also, great suggestion above to use the deck space to walk around the pool deck a bit. Once my swimmers got used to this, they enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s an odd thing for me to get used to encouraging them to walk around and talk to each other. But, really great for morale boosting. Added bonus, you can also split the group up with walker/recovers and active set doers for more room in lanes. Other added bonus, the traditional distance swimmers will REALLY hate you.
    I find it difficult to get four sets of USRTP training in during a 2 hr session. Once we do skill work, strokework focus, and figure out appropiate lanes a half and hour per set cuts it close.
    And while I realize you want to keep your job and not everyone believes this type of training works, YOU have to believe in 100%. If you are only doing in afternoons and drills in the morning, you seem to be wasting some opportunities there and sending a mixed message. The one thing I have noticed when I started this is that introducing EN2 sets or even long distances into the mix almost always ends in terrible strokes and sore shoulders. And for the record, I can’t get away from drills either. I try but that’s my fall back when I can’t think of how to focus on increasing DPS.
    Also, is it important to track data for your team? I know its big in this forum. But I have the swimmers journal their previous days highs/lows/reps before practice and expect them to know where they are. I only cycle them up to their next best time so I don’t care too much about data. They either swim faster that day or they didn’t. I know, I’ll be shot here for that statement:} But they all have their current set cards and that’s enough data for me. They know when they’ve stopped failing 2times it’s time to increase.
    The weights are a bummer. Perhaps remind him that muscle weighs more than fat and that they are just going to have to drag more weight through the water? Or could you talk him into YOGA? PILATES? instead. We do yoga. I know, it’s a dryland. But it’s about balance, breathing, movement, lenthening muscles. It’s more a seperate activity than dryland.

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