Coach Stuart – 50 Ultra-Short Race-Pace Training

The session focuses on the 50 Frontcrawl event. It begins with a mindful warm-up and includes preparation to race prior to the main USRPT set. It also includes a sport psychology skills training section.


Warm-up [Max. 10 minutes]
– ‘Mindful’ swimming (not mindless)
– Pool familiarisation
– Swimmers should remind themselves of individual technical focuses from previous sessions
– Aim to end warm up feeling energised

Technical Set (Reduce resistance – FC body position) [Max. 15-20 mins inc. instruction]
– The head should be down with the eyes looking directly at the bottom of the pool
– The head depth should be such that some water travels over the swimmer’s cap
– Swimmers can experience a sensation of swimming ‘downhill’ when they find the correct head/body position (encourage this feeling)

Rest interval = on 60s – 1m30s (Use rest period to provide technical feedback)

1 x 25m FC @ No. 3 speed – focus on correct head position
2 x 25m FC @ No. 4 – find that ‘downhill’ feeling
3 x 25m FC @ No. 5 – maintain form as pace increases

**No break** Emphasise to swimmers that they are not preparing to race…

Prepare to Race Set [max. 15-20 mins]
– Allow for full recovery between 25m reps in order to prevent unnecessary fatigue prior to main set

2 x 25m FC @ No. 5+
2 x 25m FC @ No. 5++
2 x 25m FC Find swimmer’s 50m pace

Race Psychology (swimmers exit the water) [max. 20 mins discussion]
– Imagine racing strong and well with masterful technique
– Positive self-talk
– Motivate swimmers
– Discuss a segment of the racing strategy with swimmers (focus on initial underwater phase):
– “Super fast double leg kicking”
– “Smaller kicks, fast tempo”
– “Tight streamline – spear through the water”

50m FC USRPT set [35-60 mins inc. instruction]
– Focus on underwater phase

15m repetitions @ 50m race-pace (from a dive) on complete recovery (maximum 4mins*)

– Maximum number of repetitions = until two consecutive failures (unable to meet 50m pace) by >0.2 seconds of time set
– If swimmers complete 10 reps without failure, consider decreasing time by 0.1-0.2 secs – this is how the set is progressed when repeated for swimmers in the future

50m FC race time = 28.5 seconds
15m pace time = 28.5 / 10 = 2.85 per 5m
15m pace time = 2.85 x 3 = 8.55 seconds

Failure = if swimmer swims slower than 8.75 seconds (8.55s + 0.2s)

*Complete recovery is required to avoid fatigue which would not be related to the levels experienced in a single 50m FC race. This interval also allows for valuable technical feedback time. It also enables coaches to set swimmers off in one wave at a time – perhaps of 1-2 swimmers per wave.

Recovery [8-10 mins]
– Choice of recovery swim and streamline kick @ No. 2

Workout Total: ~1hr 45mins (Maximum = 2hr 20mins)

This workout was provided by Free Style SC Coach Stuart Dustan.

Additional Comments:
Speed guide:
No.2 recovery pace
No.3 moderate
No.4 moderate-fast
No.5 fast
No.5+ faster
No.5++ faster yet (50m pace)
No.5+++ fastest (faster than 50m pace)

Rushall, B., Sprint-USRPT: Training for 50m races (2016). Swimming Science Bulletin. Available at:

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