Last week I wrote about a test set that we enjoy doing at Total Immersion coach workshops called the Pace Maintenance Set. In this set the swimmer swims a ladder of increasing distance intervals while trying to maintain the same pace as well as the same stroke count. If you haven’t done one yet, You can read more about this swim test here. Now that it’s done, you might be wondering how to interpret the information…

Here are 3 case studies with actual results of a 100-200-300-400m Pace Maintenance Set

Swimmer 1:

100 1:31 33/31
200 1:33 34/34
3:08 35/36
300 1:31 32/33
3:07 34/35
4:45 37/37
400 1:32 34/35
3:08 36/36
4:45 36/36
6:22 36/37

Swimmer one pretty much swam this set exactly as described. She had a consistent pace with every 100 of every repeat, AND her stroke count was maintained within a fairly narrow range, especially when you consider that this was a 50m pool.  She has no trouble holding this pace.  If she is a long course athlete, she may want to take this pace, 1:31/100m and extend it and test if she can hold it for a 1000m time trial, or even 1500m or longer.  It’s definately a pace that is not too faster for her given her current technique.  However we might be wondering if she took it too easy on this set and if there is more she can offer to the swim.

Next time around she may want to subtract 2-4 seconds off this pace and see if she can mantaiin say a 1:28/100m pace for the same set, or plan sets like 10 x 100 on 1:28 with the stipulation she hold the SAME stroke count for the whole set.

Swimmer #1s Improvement opportunities include

  1. Increase the distance of the set
  2. Decrease the rest interval of the set (or turn it into a straight TT)
  3. Increase the tempo or pace of the set (while holding other parameters the same)



Swimmer 2:

100 1:39 45/46
200 1:43 46/45
3:27 43/45
300 1:42 45
3:27 44
5:10 45
400 1:47 44
3:29 45
5:20 44
7:01 44

Swimmer #2 started off great with a consistent pace through a full 800m of this set.  Halfway through the final 400m set, her pace began to drop off markedly.  She DID however, keep the same stroke count.   This swimmer was mostly focused on that aspect…holding the same stroke count she had started with (more or less) but when fatigue set in, her arm speed turnover (tempo) slowed down.  While she still took 44 strokes per 50m length for the final 200 yards of her swim, she swam those legs several seconds per 100 slower.  Or thinking conversely, her TEMPO slowed down as fatigue set in.

A great prescriptive set for her would be to find the tempo she is currently swimming and using a Finis Tempo Trainer to have her listen to for the duration of the set, or similar distance.  As she nears that 800 mark, she can focus on keeping pace with the beep.  Doing so will “force” her to use the long strong arm stroke, but hold a slightly higher rate even with fatige.

She could also just shorten the set, taking 2-3 minutes before repeating the set, and training that for awhile.

Good options for swimmer #2 include:

Using a tempo trainer to increase the swim rate

Swim shorter distances at the pace of the first 800, and allow enough time for full recovery between them.