We have been reading a great deal on USRPT and there are great things about it. One part of this that more responsibility falls to the athlete on know how to read the clock and how to leave on time, and to properly finish. So even though we are not implementing USRPT the baseline to be a better swimmer still hold true.
Here is an excerpt from SWIMMING SCIENCE BULLETIN Number 47© by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State University:
“When executing an interval, swimmers will need to know the total interval and what time they are to swim. That requires a further number of skills.
1. Know When to Start. If the pool has a sweep-hand clock like that pictured to the right, they have to work out when the next repetition is to begin. That is not difficult if the interval is one minute. After the swimmers add in the length of time they wait for the swimmers before them to go, they add that time and then always start on the same time (e.g., “red 40” or “black 10”). However, if the interval time is not a minute, all successive trials have to start 5, 10, 15, seconds earlier than the previous interval. With young swimmers this is an instructional task for the coach.
2. Know How to Start. If a swimmer is to start on”red 40″, it is almost universally common for swimmers to duck under the water two to four seconds before the actual start time. This is meant to allow the wall push-off to occur on the actual start time but usually it is before that time. Consequently, repetition times are under-reported and the swimmers only fool themselves. To avoid this problem the coach should be strict about the leeway and should adopt a single rule that is always in force.
One such “wall-start” rule is as follows:
The Wall-start Rule : After the clock hand has passed two seconds before
the interval start time, the swimmer can re-position underwater and push off the wall.
It is assumed that less than two seconds re-positioning will get swimmers commencing the repetition with a push off the wall very close to the stated time for the interval start. If the re-positioning-time is more than two seconds, the length of the swimming time normally will be under-reported. Coaches should experiment with this feature. However, the overwhelming majority of coaches find that the less-than-two-seconds leeway is very satisfactory.
3. Know How to Finish. So that times are consistent (reliable) and accurate, all swimmers have to adopt a fixed routine for completing the interval distance. This involves NOT doing a sloppy finish but approaching the wall as if it were the finish of a race. At the time the arm(s) extend to touch the wall, the swimmer should turn his/her head to the clock-side and at the moment of touch open the eyes and mentally “photograph” the image of the hand position of the clock. Then the swimmer should work out the time for the repetition.
It is important to develop an habitual behavior (a skill) of reading the clock without developing bad finish features or beginning the read too early. To allow for the time to focus on the clock, it has become acceptable to set target times as plus and minus values.
i. 35- seconds means complete the swim before the 35 second mark is passed by the clock-hand.
ii.35+ seconds means complete the swim just after the clock-hand has passed 35 seconds but before it reaches the 36-second mark.
iii 35 seconds means complete the swim as the clock-hand passes over the 35-second mark.
With practice, swimmers can become quite adept at timing their swims without needing to resort to falsely reporting the time. False reporting only hurts the swimmer and that fact should be frequently stressed, particularly in the early stages of the swimmers/squad learning the self-discipline and honesty of self-evaluation that is a feature of USRPT. While it has been hinted above that coaches leave their stopwatches in the pool office, periodically it is helpful to actually time individual swimmers and note their time on several occasions. On each occasion ask the swimmer what their time was for the repetition and then reconcile the reported and stop-watch times. Constant under- or over-reporting of times should be corrected.”
So there you go. Points of emphasis and we are still months away. We are going to get better and when and how to start each set and we are going to get better at finishes. Each Day. Every Day.