PC 32m outdoor pool, 3008m, starting at 14:00. Pool was 26.5 degrees C. Weather was thunderclouds, then light rain. Swam with quickjohn wetsuit.

3x (64m FG, 128m focus drill)

10x 256m Tempo Trainer descending ladder. Goal was to increase tempo by .01 per lap, while holding times. 60 second rest between.

Repeat Tempo variance SPL held Time
1 1.30 to 1.27 19…. 3:53 (1:31 pace)
2 1.27 to 1.24 19…. 3:56
3 1.24 to 1.21 20…. 3:54
4 1.21 to 1.18 19..20.. 3:51
5 1.18 to 1.15 20…. 3:48
6 1.15 to 1.12 20…. 3:46 (1:28 pace)
7 1.12 to 1.15 20…. 3:53
8 1.15 to 1.18 20…. 3:54
9 1.18 to 1.21 20…. 4:00
10 1.21 to 1.24 19…. 3:50 (1:29 pace)


  • I reinforced my understanding of how Stroke Rate must only be increased as Stroke Length is preserved. I have to work on both together.
  • Anticipate the beep of the Tempo Trainer with my hip thrust- then my torso acts like a sling-shot to bring my recovery arm around in time to pierce the water and be in place for my lead arm to make the catch, preserving my stroke length at higher tempos.


I read some of Terry’s latest blog posts and they really helped me revive my perspective. I’ve been sliding back into 1-dimensional training- more and more focused solely on time and doing sets that pushed that metric. But there are 4 metrics that all contribute to fast, efficient swimming and to excel a swimmer needs to learn how to work on all 4 of them, and apply them intelligently. Stroke Length (SL or measured in SPL), Stroke Rate or Tempo (SR), Effort, and Time (more appropriately, Pace). In any given set should be a combination of these metric focuses, holding one, adjust the other. Holding one steady and pushing another against it is like pivoting a lever over one rock in order to lift another. By this a swimmer improves each metric.

So today’s set was aimed to place the lever over SPL (hold it constant), while gradually speeding up the tempo using my Tempo Trainer. I did 256m repeats (4 laps in this 32m pool), and would do an open turn at each lap and reach up and tap the button once on the TT to click it down just .01 second each lap. By this I was required to hold SL while gradually stretching out my ability to do faster and faster SR. So I travelled just as far each stroke, but I had to make myself slippier and slippier each lap- the focus of increasing power does not achieve this because using that focus alone usually compels a swimmer to change their body position and increase drag as they attempt to dig into the water and move the arms faster- the increased drag swallows up most of the benefit of the increase effort.

By doing this gradually, I can keep control of body position, rather than blasting high tempos and going quickly into desperate stroking from lactic acid overload- I always lose both time and SL when I do it that way. So what if I moved my arms faster- in that case I practice a wasteful form of stroke that I would not be able to maintain in a race anyway. The physics of high performance swimming require I have both SL and SR in order to go fast- I can’t just have one, so they MUST be developed in unity with one another.

I really had to work to find a way to keep tempo without increasing effort and damaging SL. I was up to a 4 out of 5 in effort, but I finally found my key focus point- instead of matching the beep to my catch, I anticipated the beep with my hip thrust, just a moment before, and this acted like a sling shot to bring my recovery arm into place and trigger the catch. It was the key I needed to find in order to swim faster tempos without slaughtering my long stroke. This also helped me shift the driver from the shoulders back to the torso. It was still effortful to achieve this, but it made all the difference in enabling me to keep increasing tempo. This is the pattern I need to drill now to make it easier and easier to perform over distance and in the sprint.

It was almost warm enough to go in the water without a wetsuit (I am wimpy about cold water, and can get chilled quickly) but between the stormy weather and my body trying to overcome the threat of a cold (caught from my sniffling toddler son) I decided to error on the side of warmth. It was a good thing too because I was comfortable during the first portion of my set, then took a 45 minute pause to work with one of my students in the pool and got chilled. Then I decided to finish the last 2 repeats afterward just to warm up again. But it also turned sunny again so I was able to dry off in warmer air.

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