50's at 100 pace

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    Does anyone have any experience with 50’s at 100 pace? It seems like it would be extremely difficult to complete any significant reps but I want to try it for freestyle. I feel like I need some extra work on my turns especially in a fatigued state to help me off my last wall in 100 free. Doing turns starting from the middle is almost like doing sprint work because you have to accelerate up to 100 pace from a stand still. I made the mistake of doing too much turn work before a meet in March and I was slightly sore going into it. I figured I better start to do some turn work on a regular basis so I don’t have to jam it in right before a meet. I only do 100 USRPT sets using 25’s so I rarely do turns except for 2 weeks before a meet. I feel good about my breast and fly turns because I can work my pull outs/under waters and things like not coming in short or long with the 25’s. The actually turn its self I feel good about too and don’t need a whole lot of maintenance work on that. In freestyle, however, pushing off on my stomach/side on the 25’s is just not the same as a push off from a turn and it makes the breakout a little different. Also, coming in with a hand touch doesn’t do anything for my approach to a turn. I know I could do 25’s to the feet but I want to be able to work my breakouts off the turns in a fatigued state as well.

    I’m a little confused on the correct pace time for 50’s. I looked through the bulletins again and the only thing that I could find about 50’s at 100 pace was that you should be using 25’s to train for 100’s 3 times more often than 50’s which is fine because I plan on doing this only a few times a month. There is nothing about the pace though. Dividing my target 100 by 2 doesn’t make sense. Right now I’m at a 14.5 for my 25s for a target of 54.0 scm. I use a tempo trainer so it’s really 13.5 because it takes about a second from the beep to when my feet leave the wall. 54/2 is 27 + 1 second for tempo trainer delay, my pace would be 28. However, swimming at my normal 14.5 pace for the first 25 my feet would touch at 14.9 and I’m guessing it would take about .3 for my feet to get off the wall after they plant? This means I would have to make it back in 12.8 instead of 13.5. If I adjust for the turn making the pace 28.7, that still seems really tough to achieve any significant reps for a 54.0 freestyler.

    I’m thinking I should go for a target back half 50. For a 54.00 100 free I should be high25/26flat and a 28 low on the second 50 which would make the pace 28.2 or 29.2 adjusted for the tempo trainer. But will this translate to the actual race? Right now I’m in the mid to upper 20’s on the third fail on my 25’s. How many should I expect to do on 50’s before the first fail? I have no idea. I don’t know if it could be 3 or 8. Has anyone tried this? If so, what pace are you supposed to do them at?

    Gary P

    I think your concerns about getting sufficient volume of 50’s at 100 pace are well founded. You can try, but I suspect you’ll find it hard to hold even back-half pace for many 50’s.

    Turn work doesn’t have to start from mid-pool, and not every set has to be a USRPT conditioning set. You can do your 25’s at race pace for the conditioning, and then do 50’s build-to-turn/decelerate-after-breakout on a sufficient interval to get a satisfactory # of turn repeats. That’s far from the “garbage yardage” set that USRPT aims to avoid.


    I tried this yesterday and it did not go well. I decided to try to do back half 50’s and went with a 29 because my last 100 yard free I was a 26.64 which converts to 29.57 in meters. I was planing on doing 50’s until the first fail and then go straight into 25’s to the feet for the remainder of the set. It looked like a good idea on paper. I failed at 3. I should have made number 3. The second 25 felt similar to the 4th 25 of a 100 free. I was getting tired and could feel myself slowing down. I tried to speed up and I thought I would make it but I failed by a little bit. If I did the set again today I think I would have made 3. There was no way I was going to make number 4 though. I didn’t try to continue the set. It was a total flop. 22.5 rest is not enough. Going on more rest would be moving into the heavy lactate territory so I’m just going to stick with the 25’s for now.


    I can relate to the frustration you’re feeling, but I suggest you try a couple of things before deciding 500s at 100 pace isn’t workable.

    First, add a bit more wiggle room into your target time. You have clearly thought a lot about how to calculate an appropriate target time. Turns offer 4 major points to easily lose/gain a couple of tenths. Unless/until you’re convinced your entire wall sequence (approach, turn, plant, push, breakout) is super consistent and is not, in fact, the major reason your time tanks I say give yourself a little more room in your target. If your walls are super consistent then tighten the time up. Walls are almost always where I see time lost in race pace sets with 50/75/100s. Walls are wildly important in short course racing. Variability on the walls really messes with the effectiveness of race pace sets.

    Second, failure on rep 3 isn’t good, but if you rested a rep and blah blah blah collected two more good reps before three total fails that would be 4 good reps or twice your race distance. Not awesome, but not a terrible starting point for what is arguably a very tough set. If you did that set 10 times over the next, say, 5 weeks could you get up to 8-10 good reps? I would expect my swimmers to progress at that rate (with all the caveats for how many times you’re training, etc.).

    If you were on my team I’d say we shouldn’t be happy with how you did, but certainly not upset. It’s a starting point. Deconstruct it, get super-consistent on the walls, do the set again and again and again and see how it progresses.


    I was disappointed with 3. My turn was a little sloppy which always happens as I start to get tired. I failed on 3 more because of sloppiness rather than fatigue but fatigue would have got me on number 4 for sure. I thought I could get 6 going into the set. I figured doing 25s to the feet for the second and third fail would be better because if I continued with the 50’s would have been make, fail, make, fail. I’m not sure how the 25’s would have been because I stopped the set. 22.5 seconds rest for 100 pace 50’s might be too much to handle even after multiple attempts.

    Every time I have done the 100 free my last turn and sometimes second turn have been absolutely horrendous. I did one in practice a few weeks ago and it’s still bad. The turns are always slow and sloppy. On my last breakout, my first breath is what seems like a three second inhale as if I just did a breath holding contest. This kills all momentum. But what’s weird is I’m able to regain my pace after a couple strokes and finish strong. It’s not like the piano drops at 75 meters. I just can’t perform a decent turn as I start getting a little bit tired. Nothing about the 25’s simulates the breakout coming off the third turn. Even approaching the third fail, with at least 15 rest before each lap, breath control on the breakout is always comfortable. Every time I do a 100 free, coming off of the third wall is like a shock to my body. I definitely need to do something about it. I think if I was doing 50’s at 200 free pace on a regular basis, my turns would be really good and would also translate to the 100 turns but I don’t plan on training for any 200’s.

    My pool has the 15m mark clearly marked on the lane lines. I was thinking about trying some 35’s or 40’s at 100 pace just so I can get some more reps with turns in. It may be a little tricky to judge a make or a fail. Since I use a tempo trainer, I don’t have to turn my head to look at a clock. I can just swim until the beep, look at the lane line really fast, and then swim easy to the wall. It may not be 100 percent accurate but I think I can get close enough.

    Gary P

    I had the same “three second inhale as if I just did a breath holding contest” feeling last fall. Not so much anymore. I never did anything at 100 pace other than 25’s this past season, but I did do over 1000 75’s at 400/500 pace. That really helped my back-half 100 form, including turns.

    You’re probably going to have to slow it down to get enough “fatigued state” turn work to improve.


    It sounds to me that the “race” part of the race pace set isn’t the problem. It’s the turn mechanics under duress and hypoxia. Move those skills forward and you’ll be able to focus on racing in the “get down the pool faster” sense. Referring back to some base principles we ought to recall that effective race pace training is highly dependent upon mechanical skill.

    My suggestion: do at least 500 total yards/meters (or about 20% of your total) of hypoxic work per practice. A mix of go-far and go-fast, under waters and no-breathers, swim and kick. Build a habit of NEVER breathing off you walls before the third stroke. This is a tough and painful habit to build (takes 2-3 weeks if you’re diligent), but once built is relatively easy to maintain and absolutely will build lung capacity and capacity for speed under duress. I’d also take a hard look at where and when you breath in a race or race pace set. For example going nuts in the first 50 of a 100 and breathing 2-3 times is all beast mode and awesome, but kinda dumb if that puts you in such a hypoxic state that the last turn or two are garbage.

    Turn work…just gotta do a lot of turns. Slower to build a foundation of skill. Under duress to build race skill. I’ve had a lot of success doing 100s or 200s at a middle to low aerobic effort, but pushing very hard from the flags into the wall through the turn and breakout. That shifting of gears is really taxing and the turns become difficult to execute very quickly. Sacrifice speed as necessary to force the turn mechanics to be perfect. Always perfect turns…no matter what. At the end of each rep you should be breathing pretty hard, but able to recover quickly. The bit between the flags will progressively get slower throughout the set. It doesn’t take more than a couple weeks (3-4 sets per week, 1000-1500 per set or 25-30% of the workout) before there is notable improvement.

    I beat this drum long and loud because it is the easiest and best way to get much faster in short course racing: get better on your walls!

    Hope these suggestions help.


    Hello. A question about USRPT:
    And the Lactate tolerance? If the USRPT produce less Lactate In blood, when do a 100m Fly, how the swimmer can achieve a good final race? If he didn’t train the Lactate tolerance.
    Thank you.



    USRPT promotes the conversion of type 2b muscle fibers to type 2a muscle fibers. Type 2 muscle fibers are the fast twitch fibers with b being anaerobic and a being oxidative. When glycogen is used by the type 2a fibers, it breaks down to water and carbon dioxide, not lactate like in the type 2b fibers. Rushall explains that lactate build up does not reach maximum levels as it does in some other sports and USRPT is sufficient to deal with the amount of lactate produced in a race.

    From page 22 of bulitin 39 – “Maximal lactate capacities are not taxed in swimming races and so need not be trained with many “lactate sets” for maximal lactate tolerance capacities. [When maximal lactate tolerance is reached in an individual has not been explained and so such training is purely guess work.] The stimulation of the lactacid energy system with more appropriate and beneficial race-pace training is likely to be more than enough and would not demand specialized overload training.”

    He also says that abnormally high levels of lactate can be explained by improper pacing. Going out too hard can start producing lactate early and build up too high before the finish causing you to die at the end of a race. As long as the swimmer swims at the proper pace that he trained at, he should be fine as long as he paces/splits the race properly.

    Another reason that USRPT doesn’t advocate lactate tolerance sets is that it interferes with neuromuscular patterning. In a lactate tolerance set you are going to be swimming below race pace for part of the set. These sets will also produce some accumulated fatigue that will take longer to recover from. This means that you won’t be able to get in as many actual race pace repetitions latter in that practice and in the following days. You can’t form neuromuscular patterning from swimming at varying speeds or if you are too exhausted to get in an adequate amount of actual race pace repetitions.



    I think another way to look at it is that you will produce a lot of lactate during a training session just not all at one time. Your body may get better at converting this back into energy during training sessions. Of course, this has little to do with a short race where there is no time for your body to start flushing or converting lactate. All that happens after the race. So what would you be tolerating? After race fatigue?

    The point of keeping lactate levels low in training is to get much more high-quality volume in during a session. More volume means more adaptation which leads to improvement in each single race.


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