As we work to fine tune our swimmers' awareness of how to deal with long course racing we have come up with an approach that may work for you. It seems to be working for us; however the final proof will wait for another 4-6 weeks for the season ending meets.
We work on stroke counts and pacing, developing a feel for how to swim over the longer stretch of water. We like this set since it can work in a 33.3 yard pool, a 40 meter pool (our set up), a standard 50 meter or any other length you may be using for your training. You can adjust the intervals as you wish. We did this set twice last week now that the "bulk" conditioning swimming is pretty much done for the summer. We did it on the 1 minute per lap base - in our case 40 meters.
After warm up...
10x40/1 establishing distance off the wall and final stroke count
10x80/2 keeping the stroke count the same on lap 2 as lap 1. We did say that it might be necessary to add 1 to the count on the return trip for free and back due to the different type of foot plant on the wall at the turn but the goal was to make the stroke counts the same
4 rounds of the following (400 meters per round)
On this set we added in to the mix of stroke counts the time factor. We went 10 seconds apart so everyone was leaving on a 0 (zero). At the end of the first lap if your time was 3 (the last digit on the pace clock - 23, 33, 43 whatever - makes no difference the total time) then at the end of the 2 lap swim it would (should) be 6 and then 9 after 3 laps and 2 (12) again after 4 laps.
We had them play around with strokes and times. They could set the time, faster or slower, up to them. The idea was to get them adjusted to counting strokes and hitting times. On Saturday we only did three rounds.
There was very little chatter on the wall as they were comparing stroke counts and times and figuring out what their next number to hit was going to be...some of them were a little shaky on their multiplication tables...we figured it was from using calculators too much. We had a few good natured chuckles on that subject.
Anyway, play around with the idea. If it has merit to you give it a try and see what happens. We figure that as the next several weeks unfold we can expect to see improvement in their repeats both time wise and stroke count wise. We expect this will translate into some fine swims from the blocks.
As we get closer to the big meet we will decrease the number of rounds, perhaps decrease the number of laps...that kind of thing.
Let us know any variations/improvements you think of. Thanks and have a great week in the pool!