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dt28
October 23rd, 2014, 12:58 PM
Hi All

My name is Darian Townsend, I am an Olympic Gold Medalist from South Africa
( ). I am a 3 time Olympian (2004, 2008 and 2012). I held the SCM 200 IM world record in 2009/2010
and I currently hold 24 Masters world records.

Just thought I would introduce myself before I got into what I wanted to say today :)
I am going to be blogging about once a week or so on various swimming topics I am interested in or if any of you have topics you would like my opinion on, please feel free to message me and I will respond with a blog.

With the Championship season fast approaching (I assume you all are tapering for a meet last November/early December) I wanted to hear from you on what your expectations are and where you feel you are in your training? Do you feel confident that best times are coming? What makes this season different from last year, what have you done differently? Has a new piece of equipment you bought really made a big difference to your training?

From me personally, this season has been great so far. Firstly I am now American, and able to represent the US internationally. This is a huge deal for me and I feel very proud to call myself an American. After living here for over 10 years now, it feels great to wear the Red, White and Blue on my cap!

After a summer of trying a new form a training called USRPT (Ultra Short Race Pace Training) I decided to go back to the more traditional way of training, and I am really enjoying it! There is nothing quite like doing a long kick set and getting out the water afterwards and having your legs feel like jelly! (Kick sets are one thing that USRPT doesn't involve). I enjoy swimming, fast and slow in practice, so to be able to vary my efforts again is really making me happy once again to be in the water working hard!

So how is your season going? What meets are you doing? I am always looking for a meet to swim in a new place I haven't visited before?

Cheers

arthur
October 23rd, 2014, 01:18 PM
Hi Darian, I'd like to see a blog post talking more about your experience with USRPT.

gdanner
October 23rd, 2014, 01:39 PM
Hi All

So how is your season going? What meets are you doing? I am always looking for a meet to swim in a new place I haven't visited before?


Terrible. You knocked me off the #1 spot in the 200 IM LCM 30-34 Top Ten rankings! :bitching:

Just kidding, I'm not mad. Your time was awesome. We all know who you are!

I have been taking a break after Masters World Champs. I might swim the Colonies Zone SCM championship at Freedom Center in Manassas, VA in December.

ande
October 23rd, 2014, 02:04 PM
Hi Darian,

Welcome to the USMS forums.
Congratulations on becoming a US citizen and for all your outstanding swims over the years.

Ande Rasmussen

knelson
October 23rd, 2014, 04:15 PM
Hi Darian, I'd like to see a blog post talking more about your experience with USRPT.

Ditto this. This topic has been discussed a lot here, and I think your (Darian's, that is) experiences with USRPT would be interesting to hear about.

dt28
October 23rd, 2014, 06:12 PM
Hi guys, I appreciate the replies! It has been a crazy last couple months for me, but very exciting at the same time!
Gdanner I am sorry for knocking you out the top 10, keep at it! Hopefully we'll meet up sometime to race!

I trained one season under a strictly USRPT program. What I mean by this is that all we did was USRPT, nothing else. I think it has it's pro's but unfortunately I think it has more cons. I felt my 100 free definitely got better, although I didn't go a best time I could feel the benefit from the training coming into my racing. I swam fast during hard training in the 100's and 50's but sadly not in any 200's. I couldn't imagine trying anything longer than a 200 on that type of training.

USRPT does not address the feeling you get in a race when you have swam a 50 and then have to turn and go another 50 and so on for a 200 or 400. This is where I felt it let me down the most, I just didn't have anything after the 100. Because USRPT focuses mainly on doing repeat 50's in practice trying to hit your pace, it doesn't factor in what it feel like to swim a 200 or more without resting. Turns if done at race pace will fatigue you and this is something that I didn't train under USRPT.

Another thing USRPT hurt me in was the taper. Swimming at race pace all the time is tiring, and your body needs rest from this. The program I was under didn't give me the rest my body needed and so come my main competition of the season I was still fatigued, physically and neurologically. A USRPT taper isn't as long as a normal taper, because your aerobic base isn't as big as it would be from doing normal training and therefore your taper can't be too long. Taper for me is about feeling goof in the water, USRPT is about hitting your speed everyday. Us swimmers are all mental, we like to feel good and when we feel good we swim fast. If you aren't feeling good, then your times won't be what you want them to be. USRPT took the feeling away from me and replaced it with numbers and I lost confidence in those numbers and myself when I didn't hit them. It's hard to come in every day to workout and hit speeds you want to race at!

I understand the need for swimmers to train at pace, and I believe there should be sets done in practice that will mimic a USRPT set, but it's my belief that swimmers still need to swim longer sets at an aerobic speed, do kick sets, do pull sets, do weights, dryland training, etc.
Swimmers have trained the traditional way for so long, I don't believe a theory like USRPT can come in and disprove all that the traditional training method has produced. I believe a mix of the 2 ways is the way forward.

let me know your thoughts....

Glenn
October 23rd, 2014, 07:12 PM
I would be very interested in seeing some of your USRPT workouts. Can you post an example or two?

ElaineK
October 23rd, 2014, 09:50 PM
Welcome, Darian! :welcome: We have a great group of Forumites here, and it's nice to have you join in!

To answer your question, degenerative hip problems forced me to dial back on my training intensity, and I will most likely be swimming my races at Dixie Zone SCM Championships rather than racing them. My husband and I had waaaay too much fun walking all over Montreal seeing the sights during and after World's, and ditto for Quebec City in between World's and Nationals. (Those hills killed me! :cane:) I recovered in time to get a personal best LC time in 200 breaststroke on the last day of Nationals; however, to celebrate, we spent 11 hours walking all over Baltimore playing tourist the following day.

Two weeks later, I competed in an Ironman Pentathlon (Rob Copeland's meet; I'm as sick he is when it comes to actually wanting to race in such a thing! :afraid:), and six days later I swam a full slate at the Georgia Senior Olympics.

My hip is now:toohurt: (thanks to being a breaststroker) and physical therapy hasn't helped. I am now awaiting results of an MRI that I finally agreed to have after too many years of this :censor: hip pain. :violin::blah:

Anyway, I miss race-pace training while I run on only 3 cylinders. Thankfully, I can still swim as long as I don't do ANY breaststroke kick and let my right leg drag along for the ride in the other strokes. Pushes off the wall have to be easy, too.

Ok, enough about me!

Congratulations on an awesome swimming career. I enjoyed watching you in the Olympics, and it's great to see you are actively involved in USMS. Congratulations on your American citizenship, too! :cheerleader:

moodyrichardson
October 24th, 2014, 10:32 AM
Turns if done at race pace will fatigue you and this is something that I didn't train under USRPT.

Us swimmers are all mental, we like to feel good and when we feel good we swim fast. If you aren't feeling good, then your times won't be what you want them to be. USRPT took the feeling away from me and replaced it with numbers and I lost confidence in those numbers and myself when I didn't hit them. It's hard to come in every day to workout and hit speeds you want to race at!



Welcome Darian!!
I watched you swim in Santa Clara last May..AMAZING!! Congratulations on your U.S. citizenship. Very happy to have your represent us! That is a very interesting breakdown of USRPT. Do you think that it hurt you more mentally, physically or both? I know the type of swimmer that I am and from your description, I feel this training would make me feel defeated constantly. Just curious on your thoughts.

Cheryl

dt28
October 24th, 2014, 12:23 PM
Thanks for your replies everyone.
I would say the USRPT training beat me up both mentally and physically.

On the mental side if I did a practice that I wasn't able to hit my pace I felt defeated and not on track to reach my goals at the end of the season. But at the same time when I did hit my pace, then I felt on track and confident. But as you know not every day will be a good day at the office, but when you are constantly going up against fast times in practice, I tended to really over analyze my bad practices and was as a result really moody until I could go my goal pace again. My problem was that I felt I couldn't relax away from the pool in between practices because I was worried about how I would feel the next day. This became mentally really tiring!

Physically going fast every day at your race pace breaks you down very quickly! Going back I would definitely add in a few recovery practices in between the race pace practices. Some longer swimming is needed to lengthen out the stroke. Sprinting all the time I felt tight, which is not how you want to feel when you race, you want to feel long and easy. Some recovery practices where you swim longer sets, some 400's, some 200's I feel would help a lot!

Here is a sample workout for a 200 free race pace set (SCY):
9133

Hopefully you can read that.....

Allen Stark
October 24th, 2014, 02:46 PM
Thanks for your replies everyone.
I would say the USRPT training beat me up both mentally and physically.

On the mental side if I did a practice that I wasn't able to hit my pace I felt defeated and not on track to reach my goals at the end of the season. But at the same time when I did hit my pace, then I felt on track and confident. But as you know not every day will be a good day at the office, but when you are constantly going up against fast times in practice, I tended to really over analyze my bad practices and was as a result really moody until I could go my goal pace again. My problem was that I felt I couldn't relax away from the pool in between practices because I was worried about how I would feel the next day. This became mentally really tiring!

Physically going fast every day at your race pace breaks you down very quickly! Going back I would definitely add in a few recovery practices in between the race pace practices. Some longer swimming is needed to lengthen out the stroke. Sprinting all the time I felt tight, which is not how you want to feel when you race, you want to feel long and easy. Some recovery practices where you swim longer sets, some 400's, some 200's I feel would help a lot!

Here is a sample workout for a 200 free race pace set (SCY):
9133

Hopefully you can read that.....

I have similar feelings about USRPT. I have found some usefulness and do 1 USRPT set as part of my workout 3 days/wk.I also do longer swims and some HIT work (Race pace at longer distance than "ultra short" with longer rest.)
Are you going to the SPMS SCM meet http://www.lbgrunions.org/generalinfo.html .It is the biggest masters SCM meet in the west and in a fast pool.

Glenn
October 24th, 2014, 03:03 PM
Thanks for the sample workout. From what I can see, and with all due respect to you and your outstanding Olympic accomplishments, this workout, although it has components of race pace, is definetly NOT a USRPT workout.

Besides the kicking and drills, which is another discussion altogether, the 8 x 50 on 1:00 is not a USRPT set.

First, in USRPT when training for 200 free, the set should be 20 x 50 skip if missed. So now you are thinking - it's hard to make eight at race pace, how am I going to make 20!!! Even though the set is listed as 20, you must never be able to do all 20, ever. If you can do all 20, the target time is too easy.

Here is how this set of 20 x 50 might go. Let's say you can hit your target time on the first eight but at number nine, you miss your target time of 23.2. Instead of going on the next interval, you sit out the next one (this is your first failure) and go on the next interval - thus the "skip if missed" phrase above. When the next interval comes around you continue. Let's say you can do four more at your target time, but you miss again on number 14. This is your second failure. After you rest one round, you continue again and can get in two more before you miss again on number 17. This is your third failure and now the set is over.

The most important thing in USRPT is pushing that first failure farther and farther down the road. So the goal tomorrow is to try to get nine or ten in at your target time before you miss at number ten or eleven. That is what becomes the supreme motivator every day.

The other way a set is done is when you get two failures in a row. Using the example above, let's say you did the first eight on target time and you missed at number nine. You rest the next one and continue, but on number 10, you also miss the target time. Now the set is over. In my experience with USRPT, if your are missing two in a row this early, the target time is probably to hard.

The other clue that your set was not USRPT was your rest interval. There are only two rest intervals in USRPT. One is 15 seconds rest on 25s and the other is 20 seconds on everything else. So, if your target time is 23 seconds for your race pace, you should be going on an interval of :45 (unless you can do the math in your head then it should be :43 -but I can't do that).

You also listed a set of 75s. I don't recommend 75s because you just can't make enough of them to get in 3 - 5 times your race distance at race pace. Same thing with 100s. You should use 100s at race pace ONLY if you are training for the 1650/1500.

I have been doing USRPT exclusively for over a year. I made plenty of mistakes in the beginning like thinking a set of 30 x 50 could be done as three sets of ten each or the other big mistake I made was only thinking two failures in a row stops the set. As a result I found myself doing a set where eventually I would make one then miss one, then make one and miss one, until I got to 30. Well, that is not USRPT, because you end up getting too much rest between each repeat.

I train exclusively for the 400/500 free and do some sets of 25s, but mostly I do two sets a day of 30 x 50 on :50 holding :33. I have had excellent success with USRPT, hitting times faster then I did five or ten years ago (I'm 65).

The other thing about USRPT is that you are always ready to race. You do not have to wait until taper. I started USRPT in September of 2013 and although I wasn't doing it right for the first three months, in February of 2014 I swam a 200 free at a time I would have expected at Nationals in May with a traditional workout regimen. And since then I have done this continually.

I talk with lots of people who are interested in USRPT and also many who say they are doing USRPT, but usually they are doing race pace like sets that are really not USRPT.

There are many ways to train in swimming and people have had great success with training in ways other than USRPT and will continue to do so, but USRPT is based on science and not what a coach feels is right. But again swimmers can certainly be successful doing all kinds of things (like Ryan Lochte's giant tire lifting). If done correctly, I believe USRPT is an excellent training method.

Thanks and congratulations on your success and on becoming a US citizen!

Glenn Gruber

Bill Sive
October 24th, 2014, 04:35 PM
Hi Darian,

I saw you swimming at the UCLA Masters Meet on 10/19/14. That was a very nice 100 Meter Butterfly.
I'll expect more great swimming demonstrations in the future. You made it look so easy.


Regards,

dt28
October 24th, 2014, 05:27 PM
Hi Glenn

I appreciate your response. All the things you mentioned I did in my USRPT training. I moved on form the 8 x 50 and eventually got to 16 x 50 with a couple failures along the way.

I agree there are many ways to get to a goal at the end of the season. I understand where USRPT is coming from, but I don't believe it can be the only form of training you do. As I mentioned before when I swim my tapered 200's at the end of the season, I got tired off 2 turns and couldn't keep the pace going. I felt this too in the meets I swam mid season.

Swimming longer distances gets you used to not resting on the wall every 50 and this is where I feel USRPT falls short. However for a 100 race, I believe USRPT can be an efficient way for training. But from my experience I still believe you need to add other forms of training, like weights, dryland, kicking, pulling, etc. This is just my opinion.

I agree with you on the ready to race part. I swam some of my fastest 50's and 100's mid season while training on USRPT!!! But come the end of season I swam slower and just felt exhausted at my main competition.

Thanks again for your response!

dt28
October 24th, 2014, 05:50 PM
Thanks Bill! It was a fun meet!

dt28
October 24th, 2014, 05:52 PM
All the best Elaine! I hope your hip gets better soon!

Glenn
October 24th, 2014, 06:00 PM
Darian,

Well, I suppose it doesn't work for everyone.

This week, for the first time, I did two sets of 30x50 at every practice. It was tough, but from Monday to Friday I did a total of 37, 38, 41, 41 and today 43 fiftys for a one week total of 10,000 yards at race pace (of course I then go home and take a nap). It would take a month of traditional workouts (a least where I train) to get that much race pace work. For me it is the only training I do. I don't do any slow swimming, pulling, drills or kicking. I believe in it and it works for me, so I will stick with it. I think it is critical to believe in what you are doing. So whatever you choose to do having a positive attitude about it is half the battle.

I actually think USRPT is better for middle and long distance than it is for 50 and 100.

In the end, it is all about swimming fast, so if the training you do produces fast swimming, then stay with that training.

dt28
October 25th, 2014, 08:33 PM
Couldn't agree with you more Glenn! Good luck with everything, hopefully see you around a pool at some point!