The USRP Racers Swim Team began in April of 2014 with 2 swimmers and a desire by its coaches to offer an alternative choice for swimmers in the Daytona Beach area. The team has grown quickly to more than 60 swimmers ages 5 and up. The training protocol is Ultra-Short Race-Pace Training (USRPT), implemented in an encouraging, positive atmosphere.
USRPT - Ultra-Short Race-Pace Training
Ultra-Short Race-Pace Training (USRPT) is about learning and training to swim at race speed during every set of every practice. This training protocol is a combination of technique, mental focus, and conditioning. USRPT is swimming’s version of HIIT (high intensity interval training) that has been used in track, rowing, and other similar sports for decades. It is now making its way into the swimming world. USRP Racers of Daytona is one of the first teams in the nation to implement these principles.
USRPT is an evidence-based training program developed by Dr. Brent Rushall from his own research and the research of many others. The expression "Quality over Quantity" summarizes the heart of his program.
Ultra-Short refers to the short and strictly monitored swimming and recovery intervals that USRPT swimmers are required to hold. Swimmers do not rest more than 25 seconds or less than 15 seconds on any set. Such short intervals allow the swimmer’s body to maintain a low level of lactate in the blood and a high level of glycogen in the muscles. Maintaining glycogen levels aids the neural learning and neuromuscular patterning needed for quality performances. With short swim distances, the body can repay accumulated oxygen debt and replenish energy systems in a relatively short amount of time.
Race-Pace uses the principle that the best way to train the body for a particular activity is to replicate the activity as closely as possible. This Principle of Specificity applies to specific swimming speed and to proper technique required to achieve that speed. USRPT coaches design swimming sets with a very specific pace and race in mind. In other words, swimmers are given a goal pace along with a rest interval for each set. This method trains the swimmer’s energy systems for that race.
Implementing USRPT. To train for a specific distance, a swimmer will normally race one-fourth of the distance. So if a swimmer is training for the 200 yard backstroke and has 2:00 best time, he will swim a series of 50s. His goal time is 2:00 divided by 4, or 30 seconds. The rest period for a series of 50s is 20 seconds. (For 25s, the rest period is :15; for 75s and 100s :20 - :25. Training yardage is rarely more than 100.) The swimmer will attempt to swim 16-30 50s on :50 achieving :30 for every 50. If the swimmer misses this pace time on one of the 50s, he sits out the next 50, refocusing on achieving the goal time on the next 50. The missed 50 counts as one of the total number of repeats. The set continues until the total number has been swum, or there have been three misses.
USRPT sets produce a training effect in the body that trains the swimmer for the pace and technique needed to swim the 2:00 in a race. Improvements for the above swimmer come when the swimmer achieves more 50s before the first miss, has fewer misses, or is training at under :30.
Any event can be trained using this method. It is equally effective for sprinters, distance swimmers, and every distance and stroke in between.
The above example relates to the conditioning part of USRPT, but equally important are the technique and mental focus aspects. Swimmers are taught to race with proper stroke mechanics, to understand race strategy, and to use the pace clock to check their practice times.
The coaches are dedicated to maintaining a positive atmosphere in which swimmers are encouraged to strive for personal excellence. Our goal is for team swimmers to learn the value of 100% effort, to be role models for others, and to develop a skill that will be an asset for their entire life. We want parents to be an integral part of the team effort for their children by taking active roles in special team activities and meets.