Longer rest intervals

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    I’m doing a little experiment with the rest intervals this fall. Very small sample group (4 swimmers), but I’m curious to see the results when we have out first meet in a couple weeks. I went from :30 seconds on the 25’s to :60, and I went from :45 or :50 seconds on the 50’s to :90. After 7 weeks I’ve noticed a few things.
    1. Swimmers are more sore after these practices. They said they feel it is tougher than the shorter rests because their goal times are faster.
    2. It takes a little more focus because the sets are longer, and I need to help keep them focused and remind them that the only swim that matters is the very next one. Never anticipate a miss. Also, we’ve dropped to 2 sets a practice where we max out at 30-36 reps per set just to keep the practice to a reasonable time (we practice later at night). Because of this, I have a rule where we only drop the goal time when they have made max reps on that set twice in one week. I keep trying to emphasize that they can always mentally challenge themselves within the set to go a third of a second faster than their goal time, but we are not dropping the goal time if it is going to significantly lower the number of reps in a set.
    3. Technique is much more sound within the entire set with the longer rest intervals. The strokes look like the racing strokes I see when they are racing a 100 or 200 in a meet. Additionally, I have more of a chance to talk to the swimmers between reps because of the longer rest. This really seems to be helping because I can take the time to really talk to them, and they are able to hear me because they are not in pain and gasping for breath. This, to me, has been the biggest upside to the longer rest intervals.
    4. My swimmers seem to like this. We have been doing the shorter intervals (traditional usrpt) for a couple of years, and the change just seems to motivate them. Once high school season hits, I think we will have to go back to the shorter rest intervals because we get so little pool time, but those shorter rest times will lead to all new goal times, and I think it will help them stay motivated.

    I remember when Old School,I think, posted something a couple of years ago about no real established magical rest time, just some research and theories. Hope I’m not putting words in your mouth here, but I can’t find the post. It motivated me to experiment a little this season so that the kids will come into the high school not feeling like they are stuck in a rut.

    Just thought I’d post this after reading some of the other comments on another thread. Will see what results look like in a couple of weeks.


    BINGO! Now we’re cooking with gas! You’ve established a program to work off of which is USRPT. You know it works and have had good results and now you can start to “tweak” it a little. If your hunches don’t pan out you just move right back to USRPT and no one is the wiser. That’s how systems/theories move forward.

    You will get no argument from me on the fundamental principles of USRPT. Dr. Rushall has done a ton of work for swim coaches if they would just stop and think about.

    The key I think is race results to the sets. If you notice that “n x 25 on 1:00” doubled is the time +/- .2 equals the first 50 of their 100, then you have something. Maybe you look at “n x 50 on 2:00” and notice that comes pretty close to the back ½ of their 100. Maybe you notice that “n x 50 on 1:00” is the rough average of 50s 2, 3 & 4 of a 200. All of this will have a certain standard deviation and you just have to look at it and say 34.67 race result and a 34.13 training pace. You’re pretty dang close. You can use this information in so many ways to help the swimmers understand why it is important to hold pace and make more. It creates numerous teachable moments.

    Say, you look and see that we’re not taking out the 200 fast enough. But you know that they may have a hard time swimming a high number of “n x 50 on 2:00” might take “n x 50 on 2:00” divide it in half and have them swim 25s on :40, maybe 12-16 and see what happens.

    Side note. I’ve moved from club coaching to college and interesting you mention swimmers being sore. The first week I had the kids doing this some of the comments were, “I’ve never been this sore from swimming. But it feels good”.

    Let us know how it goes,


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


    I would think the longer rest intervals will allow them to make more, but also allow more lactate to build up over the set before their first failure. I could be way off, but that may be why they feel more sore, they are doing more yardage at race pace and they are able to push their bodies further than they did before.

    doc/oldschool I am also coaching in college. I saw an earlier post where you talked about the women you work with. I have a few sprinters that are similar, 50/100 and 100 stroke, I would be interested to see how you break your week down and what sets you are doing what days if you are willing to share.




    This is somewhat related to longer rest intervals and the n x whatever @whatever is related to “fill in the blank.”

    My 100 swimmers have been swimming 16×50 @2:00 (Most made is 12 for my top girl). She has had a goal time of 28.5 so far this year though I will be moving it down. Monday she made 10 of them holding 28.0-28.2.

    Her 100 Free last night was 55.1 with 26.6 on the first 50 and a……….. 28.50 on the second 50. We’ll need to improve that quite a bit by sections. I’m hoping she’ll be able to get that down close to 27.5 in practice before sections.

    Our 2nd 100 swimmer is having similar correlations. Trains to hold under 30 on the back half and just had her first 2 100s these last meets where she came back in 29 high.

    "Most people have the will to win. Few have the will to prepare to win."


    Thanks for the feedback everybody. Doc, I did use your recommendation on factoring in the standard deviation, and I noticed something a little peculiar this summer with my swimmer. To establish a goal time I did a test set of 4×50 and 4×25 on 2 and 1 minute intervals and then added in the standard deviation to reach a goal time. I also tried to strictly follow Rushall’s advice that rest intervals never exceed 20 seconds. The combination of the 2 did not yield the results I had hoped for. I had to significantly adjust the goal time upward just so my swimmer could get enough reps to get some training. Here’s an example of training the 200 free using nx50 free.
    1. Current personal best is 1:48
    2. For test set goal time established at 27 low (so far so good)
    3. Interval for set was :45 (:50 would have been 23 seconds rest which is above the 15-20 rest interval)
    4. Eventually had to adjust the goal time to 28 mid. Swimmer was in aerobic shape, but just could not hold 27 low with the rest interval
    5. Even with the 28 mid goal time, there was significant breakdown in technique by the 6th or 7th rep.
    Decent results in off strokes by end of season, but no improvement in 200 free and best strokes, and I was not happy with the lack of progress in technique. This is a swimmer with significant flaw strokes, wanted to correct them, but was too physically beat up in the set to make those changes. This is why I decided to swing the pendulum in the other direction.
    The funny thing is, I know that keeping the rest interval short would benefit a ton of my high school swimmers who don’t train intensely. By maintaining that short rest interval along with a goal time that holds them accountable, they work harder than they ever have, develop some aerobic capacity, and drop lots of time. Just not seeing the same results for my 4 fastest swimmers who train hard year round. I feel like I owe those 4 more than all the others combined, though. They’ve been willing to pay the price, and they deserve a program that will get them faster. Guess that’s why I’m experimenting this pre-season.
    I guess I’ll get some idea of where we are in a couple of weeks with the first meet.


    Try and give some thoughts to both posts.

    Billratio, Nice. It’s fun when you start to see the picture in the puzzle. It’s been there all along just needed to look at it differently. You will add so much more value to practice and when the kids get it. It’s a blast. Sure beats guessing or not even having a clue.

    again nice job!

    For the girl swimming the 200. You could test 6 x 50 on 1:00 figure avg and stdev (this would be roughly 50s 2, 3 and 4 of 200). Keep the 4 x 50 on 2 as this is very close to what they go out in for the 200 and also 2nd 50 of 100 (kinda a bonus, 2 times from 1 set) I’d guess had you done 6 x 50 test she would have been closer to the 28s. You can also do 3 x 100 on 2:00 for free (if you do it in stroke I’d do 75s better speed and quality of movement) and it should come very close to her back 1/2 100 of the 200. If I read the post correctly you took her 4 x 50 on 2 time and had her try and hold that with 20 rest? Better believe she’s not going to make many and the wheels will spin off the wagon. The boat is sinking. She is probably VERY thankful you had this paradigm shift.

    Years ago I spoke with PhD types from USA Swimming, East Germany and a few other countries and almost to a person they believed that holding the time was the most important thing and that you adjust the rest interval so that it’s on the shortest possible interval that allows them to hold the time. i.e. 4 x 50 on 2:00, could be 1:30 or 1:20, etc. as long as they can hold the time.

    I think, not knowing anything about your 4 kids, that you are making the right decision.
    I’m coaching college now and have a couple of kids (internationals) that believe that “more work” is somehow the answer to getting faster. I finally convinced one to drop down and improve his speed and guess what he went faster. I just tell them I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    Again I think you are making the right move.

    Keep us posted


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


    Over the past few months I had been doing 20×25 18.52 pace with 23.15 rest for breast, always after the fly USRPT set. As I explained in another thread, I have been having a hard time getting a decent amount of reps in breast after the fly set. Originally I wanted to put more emphasis on fly so I put that first so I could be totally fresh for it. Recently I also decided to give fly a chance at more rest. I went from 16 to 19.2 rest. I think less is better on fly for aerobic purposes but breast seem to be a little more anaerobic than 100 fly/bk/fr. I had been hitting mid teens before the first fail on fly, Monday 28 was just a bad day, I had a rough weekend before that.

    This is what I did over the past two weeks-
    Mon-28 100 fly USRPT (16.0) 30×25 @35.2
    fail 9,12,15
    100 br USRPT (18.48) 20×25 @49.28
    fail 9,11,12


    100 free USRPT (:14.49) 30×25
    fail 11,14,17

    Wed-30 100 br USRPT (18.50) 20×25 @55.5
    fail 16

    Thurs-1 fly sprints
    fly/free turns

    Fri-2 100 br USRPT (18.50) 20×25 @55.5

    Sat-3 turns
    SCY 25 free sprint to feet
    2 25 free sprint from block

    Mon-5 100 br USRPT (18.50) 12×25 @55.5

    Tues-6 Off

    Wed-7 100 br USRPT (18.50) 12×25 @55.5

    Thurs-8 warm up/turns

    I decided to totally drop the 100 free and fly set early last week since I wasn’t swimming those events at the meet today. Doing the breast on 55.5 really helped me a lot with sharpening my technique. I felt like it was more relevant to the middle/end of the race whereas before it was just a bunch of front half speed followed by going all out hoping I make it to the wall before the beep of the tempo trainer. With the longer rest I felt like I was maintaining back half tempo and technique in a controlled way for way longer than before. I decided to cut myself off at 20. I have gone up to 30 in the past but every time, I do that I get hip pain, not muscular but in the joint which is concerning so I just keep it to 20. I definitely made some strides in technique over the past couple of weeks in the 100 breast. With the extra rest I was very strict on the interval. All the makes were no more than 18.6, maybe a 18.7 every once in a while.

    If you adjust my practice pace with the tempo trainer to a toes leaving the wall to a hand touch I am at a 17.5 or 1:10 scm pace which converts to a 1:03.06 scy. I was really hoping I could go a little above and sneak under 103 and that is exactly what I did. I went a 1:02.95 splitting it 28.98/33.97. They should be a little closer but I went the pace I trained to go and I’m happy for that. In April I went a 1:04.27 splitting 29.68/34.59. When I completed 20 I felt I could move down to an 18 pace. If I had more time I would have. As I move the pace down, I think my splits will get closer together. I know 1:02 is nothing good but I would like to break a minute eventually and I think I can do it with something like a 27.9/32.0. Now that I know this pace correlates, it’s nice to know that I know exactly what I need to do in training to go a certain time.

    My other events today were 50 free, 50 fly, and 50 breast.

    My first event was 50 free. I did a track start for the first time in a meet in this event. I had been doing a two feet forward start my whole life. I was taught that way in 1995 and I had been rolling with it all along up until today. I think it’s about the same time as my old start right now. Last weekend I drove across town to practice starts because my main pool doesn’t allow people to use the blocks. I rarely practice starts and as a result they are not very good. Technically, okay…but no power, no explosiveness, just blah all around. When I was 18 my starts and first 15m were awesome. I was a lot better athlete back then and more explosive. I’m a better swimmer now but not close to where I was in terms of vertical leap ability. Probably 6 inches vertical leap deference than I was back then. That’s big on the start. Anyway, I got totally crushed on the first 15m by the person next to me. He kicked out far and I could see him out of the corner of my eye after I surfaced and he had at least a half a body lenth at 15. I jammed my turned, had a bad push off, and a bad breakout. My last 15m was awesome though. I closed with energy and full speed. Probably the best last 15 I have ever done. I ended up going 22.16. I wanted to go a mid 21 which I probably could have done with a better start and turn.

    My next event was the 50 fly. I went 23.56. On my start, I didn’t get a full inhale before hitting the water and I took a breath on the 4th stroke. I didn’t take any on the way back. I was planning on just breathing on the turn. That was the only mistake I made. I took 6 kicks on the start and 4 off the turn which is super low. Over the past few months I messed around with kick numbers and found that basically I am wasting time under water because I am so much better on the surface.

    My third event was 50 breast. I went 27.82. It was pretty good after the first 2 I work out all the problems with the start. 100 breast was last.

    I know this was kind of a long post but I’m hoping if there are any swimmers reading this thinking about trying USRPT. Do it. It’s fun and you know exactly what pace you need to hold to go a best time and that’s a beautiful thing. I just want to get the info out there to anyone curious, especially masters swimmers. The more info out there, the better. Thanks to billratio for putting all his info out there, no doubt it helped me go a personal best today in the 100 breast.


    Thanks for sharing! That is very encouraging to read and thanks for the shout out! Those a great results! Especially considering that it wasn’t that long ago that you made the switch to longer intervals.

    Can I asked what kind of suit you were wearing? Can I ask how old you are? What are your lifetime bests in those events?

    I tried to make a comeback a couple years ago and was happy to go 22.1 in my 50 free. I consider it a good time. 😉 I didn’t know about USRPT at that time though.

    "Most people have the will to win. Few have the will to prepare to win."


    Bill, I’m 28, I wrote about my background in another thread. I didn’t swim year round growing up because I wanted to play other sports. I swam summer league but I focused hard on improving during the limited time I had. I live in Richmond VA. When I was 16 and 17 I made big improvements in swimming because I had a good coach that swam under Matt Kredich at the University of Richmond. Some of the stuff we did was probably off the mark but we were no doubt a practice fast to swim fast type of people.

    I wore this suit yesterday http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/speedo-lzr-pro-gold-jammer-tech-suit-24936/?color=9600 I wore this suit one other time at a 2 day meet in april. I went all best times in everything except for 50 free. I went 21.83 at summer league champs when I was 18. It’s kind of frustrating knowing that top speed wise I am better than ever. When I went 21.8 I was lifting weights for football and playing basketball. My vertical leap was much better and I think I was under 5.5 on the first 15 meters. Now I am a 5.8-6.0. I went 22.16 with a bad breakout on the start, jammed turn, bad breakout on the turn, I am really surprised I was able to go 22.16. I was hauling so much ass on the last 15 meters which is really promising. I would like to go a 20.8 which I think is in the realm of possibility. I will be super happy if that happens.

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