Usrpt for 3k, 5k and 10k open waters

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    IKS Swimming

    Hello swimmers and coaches!
    I’m new here but very passionate about USRPT! I’m a Brazilian coach living and working in Costa Rica.
    I work with high school swimmer doing regionals and nationals and also with open water swimmers and triathletes! So far for our swimming community, our athletes are doing well getting first and second places in nationals competitions!

    I’m a real geek about swimming so I’ve been studying new technics and training methods all the time, I think we always can improve!

    I’ve been studying the Usrpt for a while, reading everything its possible and watching all videos that I can find on youtube.. but so far I’m not sure about it(unfortunately I didn’t find any online curse that can show me i’m in the right direction) so I’ve tested myself before to give to my team, and so far I’m feeling stronger and getting a feel for the water again. Right now I’m doing 1,5k open water and feeling my times are dropping and I’m swimming more conscious and knowing in what to focus on a race. Also helped me to have a different focus during a race, much more about sticking with my pace and technique than in the other swimmers or anything out of what I should think. for sure the dryland exercises is increased and that part made me feel more confident about my physical condition and believing that I can beat myself in the next practice.

    I’m wondering if its possible to bring the same concept for long races as 3, 5 and 10k open water…

    Thank you very much for your attention!

    Pura Vida!


    This is a very interesting topic that is only loosely addressed in USRPT literature.

    First of all, have you purchased the “technique macrocycle” manual? It contains almost everything from the short supplementals and handy printable guides for use while you are coaching on the deck.

    This is a very odd concept.
    A couple things we know about longer races and training for those races:
    1) The velocity change between the 800m and 1500m LCM events, for high-level athletes, is about 2%. I will assume a 2-3% change to the 3k for this. For ref, the velocity change from 100LCM to 50 LCM is 12% for men and 9% for women.
    2) Technique is tied to speed. However, a 2-3% velocity difference for a long event might not be mechanically noticeable for most rec athletes.
    3) marathon runners need to condition their bodies for ground impact as well as the energy cost of running forward. Swimmers don’t have impact issues so you only need to train for energy costs of moving through water. We don’t need a ton of general volume.
    4) this research found that swimming performance is correlated to ABSOLUTE VO2max (total VO2max) instead of RELATIVE (based on body weight).
    5) Continuous work for 4-5 minutes, to failure, gives a decent representation of your VO2max.

    When training for longer races, where the velocity change is minimal as to not affect technique and VO2max requirements are below 100%, it is possible that smaller volumes can still create large improvements.

    For instance, when training for a 3k I would take my pace and divide by something. I’ll say 200s at my 3k pace is 3:00. If I do 15 x 200 on a 3:15 I’m at 3K but I already knew that I could do that. I was also operating BELOW my 3k VO2 level because I had short 15 sec breaks. Do I try for 30 x 200? I need to stress my ABSOLUTE VO2 level and I know that my 1500 pace is only 3% different from my 3000 pace. Let’s try for 15 x 200 with a 2:55 target pace at a 3:10 interval. My technique shouldn’t feel much different but I’m better stressing my VO2 level used for the 3k. If I only can do 10 that’s 2000y/m; it seems counterintuitive but that should improve my 3k time because races over 4 minutes are more heavily influenced by ABSOLUTE VO2max.

    Prior to a race, I would then move back to my 3k pace to prepare. But, what I did during the training period was greatly improve my ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscle during the race. I still need to work on improving technique elements throughout the cycle.

    I would think you could train for a 10k in as few as 3-4000 y/m a session using USRPT methods.


    IKS Swimming


    Thank you very much for your reply! After your answer, I check the links and I’m on my way to buy technique manual!

    After this, I positively believe and trust in the usrpt, just because every day makes more sense to me.

    Since I started coaching I never race again, I believe if I going to be a coach so I need to focus on my team full time. I always swimming as a preparation for surfing and I made my life on surfing as a competitor, big wave surfer and surf guide. Swimming competitions was a preparation for surfing at high performance. Then I start racing in open waters and well here I’m now.

    After getting touched by USRPT I decide to go back to open water races to test the method and learn during the process, I’m just in the beginning and trying to back in shape for races on a smooth way! I don’t have any date and so far I’m in the pool every day it’s not hard to find some time to jump in the water and put my time on this!

    The process is super fun and challenging to do it!
    I still have some doubts but I think with this technique manual, things will be much more clear!
    Thank you so much for the links and your comments!

    Right now I’m doing:
    warmup: 10×50(25underwater dolphin kick/25 freestyle progressive) with fins
    my first desire time for 1,5k is 21min (actual best time in CR for ocean races)
    so I set it for 25@20″ with 15″ rest.
    so my sets are:
    3 of 40×25 on 20″ with 15″rest
    my first failure is around 34 attempt
    I do some dolphin kick underwater and easy backstroke and go for the second set

    I’ve been doing this for 2 weeks and after the first week to adapt I’m feeling just great!

    What do you think? thank you very much for your comments!

    My best regards,

    Pura vida!


    Looks good!

    Your next progression may be: 20×50 on :40 with :20 rest. The distance and pace are proportional to your 25s but your rest period is less per 25. Then 30×50, then maybe 20x50s with only :15 seconds of rest. Soon you’ll be lowering the target time: 20×50 on :38 with :22 rest. Do you see how this works?

    When you get the manual work on the technique elements in order. You’ll be working on body position, breathing, and body roll which will help you use less energy by decreasing drag. Then you can start working up to 75s, 100s, and 200s at your 1.5k pace.


    IKS Swimming

    Yes!!! I can see the progression and better I began to understand how it works and how to progress.

    I’m very, very concerned about technique! And definitely looking for reducing the drag with the perfect body position.

    Another doubt that I have is when a swimmer is ready to go on USRPT? I mean, after how long working on technique and endurance I can start to change teaching and correcting training to usrpt?

    I guess the manual will help me with that!

    Thank you!


    I would say as soon as they can complete a full lap without stopping. I had a newish adult swimmer who could do 2 laps, 28 seconds each, before getting tired. I started with element 1, body positioning, and she was at 4 laps with breaks in 24 seconds each by the end of the practice.

    IKS Swimming

    wow! Amazing! I really need the manual!!!

    so, you keep the usrpt even on corrective drills?


    Well, USRPT doesn’t use traditional “drills”. One of the techinque elements is always used during a set. Every stroke cycle should work toward perfecting a part of the whole stroke technique at a certain speed.

    Now, If you are training new swimmers and young children then there is some benefit to using a variety of drills to help them generally learn and keep them engaged. Here are some guides:

    The better the swimmer gets the more focused they should be on correcting stroke mechanics at the pace they want to race at.

    Gary P


    ryan is definitely on point when he suggests there’s little difference in technique and speed for distances above 1000 yards. Work on getting better at the 1500/1650, it’ll carry over to 3k, 5k, and even 10k. 24×125 is my staple set for mile race pace work.

    Something else to keep in mind is that long distance open water racing is highly tactical compared to pool swimming. You’re not usually going to go out there and just swim a steady pace by yourself. You want to stay with a group, so you can enjoy the benefits of drafting. You will also likely have to vary your effort, going harder at certain times, like when your group splits and you have to bridge to the breakaway, and hopefully getting to go easier at times when you are in the right place in the pack to maximize the draft effect.

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