Race Pace isn’t sprinting to exhaustion but creating the speed that will be needed to achieve goal times for each event. The main emphasis of Faster Swimming is if you train at slow speeds you will compete at slow speeds. If you train 500’s and you are a 50 freestyler you are not maximizing your potential. If you train long fly sets with bad mechanics and timing you can’t expect that to change when you are trying to sprint!
Start the season with enough rest at each desired distance to achieve race pace (goal speed) and as the season continues lessen the rest interval and achieve the same result. For example, 8 x 25 on :45 holding race pace at the beginning of the season. As the season progresses 8 x 25 on :30 holding race pace. Continue to shorten send off as taper progresses finally holding race pace for 4 x 25 on :15. This same concept is applied to IM and long freestyle swims. This doesn’t have to be the main set but just the last 10 minutes of a workout. Please remember to do race pace during the aerobic phase of the season and during holiday training. If your swimmers are tired on a given day and you need to do race pace then you must set send off that help swimmers achieve race pace. Race pace develops muscle memory and helps create speed and power.
Let’s take the 100 free for our example and say your goal is to swim a 48.00 in the 100. In order to achieve this swim you must create and instill muscle memory at this speed. You will need to maintain 12.00 while swimming 25’s and 24.00 speed while doing 50’s. You can have your swimmers either hold pace to a hand touch or to a flip turn(feet). If you want the swimmer to hold race pace based on their race strategy then build that into your sets. For example, first 25 hold 11.5 from the block to the feet. Middle 50 hold 24.0 to the feet and the last 25 hold 12.5 to the touch. You can eventually work up to 75’s and broken 100’s (breaking them at different distances) and finally a 100 from the block before you actually swim your big race. This will give your swimmer the confidence needed for the big race.
You will do more race pace swimming as the taper progresses if you follow the workouts laid out in the 23-week training manual. Recovery and over-speed sets are equally important and must be incorporated with your race pace work. Remember that your dryland and lifting program is important and must coincide with this type of training. Jumping and reaction time are extremely important and should be included in all your workouts. Training with speed and power in the water, as well as dryland, will enhance everything you are trying to achieve in your program.
Dryland and weight training should incorporate the same basic principal as your swim training: Training intensity is directly proportional to your competitive results. For swim training, intensity is based on goal speed to improve sport performance specifically. For weight training, intensity is based on percentage of max effort and speed to improve strength, speed, and power generally. For dryland, intensity is based on work density (movements per time) to improve work capacity, speed and power endurance generally. Quality (intensity) is important in your dryland and lifting as well as in the pool to improve your performances generally and specifically.