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Thread: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

  1. #1
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    How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    Hi, everyone!


    I'm going to be focusing on middle-distance for at least the rest of the year. Splitting is one of the first areas I'm looking at to improve. During my first attempt at writing out some ideal splits for a 500, I realized I don't know exactly how much a time an average dive subtracts. Is it 2 seconds? 3? More? Less?


    These are 50 splits from my 500 freestyle PB, a 5:24.50:


    29.11
    31.33
    32.37
    32.49
    32.95
    33.03
    33.74
    33.50
    33.59
    32.39


    To me, it appears there are three important time additions: 1.) at the 100, adding 1 second per 50, 2.) at the 200, adding half a second per 50, and 3.) at the 300, adding 3/4 of a second per 50. From this, I have two big questions:


    1.) should I have gone easier on the first 100?
    2.) should those four 33.xx splits in the back half switch places with the 31 and 32.xx splits from the first half, opening the possibility that a completed 500 in this alternate timeline might have more 31.xx splits in the back half, and thus, a faster time?


    What does everyone think? I apologize if my second question was needlessly complex. I suppose I meant to ask: should I have gone easier on the first half?
    Last edited by Couroboros; June 27th, 2013 at 04:14 AM.

  2. #2
    Very Active Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    You can't win the 500 in the first 100...but you can lose it!

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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    I agree with Glenn. When I was swimming 500 in about 5:15, I would normally split the first 100 in 1:01, and you're splitting faster than that to get to 5:24.

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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    I like my responses in this thread to a related situation
    http://forums.usms.org/showthread.ph...-500-falls-off

    29.11 31.33 60.44
    32.37 32.49 64.86
    32.95 33.03 65.98
    33.74 33.50 67.24
    33.59 32.39 65.98

    250's
    1:38.25
    1:46.25
    8 sec diff

    you want to swim the 1st 250 so that your 2nd 250 is closer
    try to keep the diff between 0 to 4

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    Very Active Member Lump's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    Quote Originally Posted by ande View Post

    250's
    1:38.25
    1:46.25
    8 sec diff

    you want to swim the 1st 250 so that your 2nd 250 is closer
    try to keep the diff between 0 to 4
    What he said.

    The 500 is my favorite event. Not a sprint, but not distance. I've always done my best times when my 250's are nearly equal. There is nothing worse than knowing you went out too fast the first 250 and the pain starts coming on the next 100!

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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    After the first 50, try to keep the same pace until the last 50 sprint. They key is getting to know yourself well enough to allocate your energy properly so you don't fade but also don't have a ton left at the end. With enough practice, you can still split the race well no matter how fast you are at that particular time. Here are some examples of mine (400's and 500's)at various levels of conditioning:

    http://www.usms.org/comp/meets/swim.php?s=1894008
    http://www.usms.org/comp/meets/swim.php?s=1910069
    http://www.usms.org/comp/meets/swim.php?s=1837158
    http://www.usms.org/comp/meets/swim.php?s=736326
    http://www.usms.org/comp/meets/swim.php?s=855436

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    Very Active Member Swimosaur's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    Ok, here's another question. How do you train, so as to hit the ideal splits?

    I have been doing 5x100 on 1:20, or 1:25, which gives me 10-15 sec rest per interval. I can swim a set like that at close to race pace. In races, my 250 split differences are in the range 2-6 sec, so it seems to work pretty well for me.

    But doing that one set over & over gets tiresome! Any more ideas?

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimosaur View Post
    But doing that one set over & over gets tiresome! Any more ideas?
    10x50 on :45 at pace. To me it feels a lot different than doing 100s.

    And I agree with Ande on the original question. Breaking it out to individual 50s is a little excessive. Look at the 250s and try to be less than five seconds slower on the second half. In my opinion the 500 is not a distance race and should not be negative split. That just means you saved up too much for the end. But you don't want to be a lot slower on the second half.

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    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    There are some other pertinent questions to be asked. Do you typically see yourself as a sprinter, middle distance or distance swimmer? Your splits look like those of a sprinter. If that is so, I recommend a negative split swim, seeking a lot of control in the first half, using your speed to roll up the second. Real distance swimmers are very uncomfortable with changing speeds while sprinters are quite accustomed to it.

    Imagine your last 50 being the fastest, including your dive 50. That has terrific psychological benefits for you and crumbling morale for your heat mates. Make it an easy, relaxed first 100 and build the rest. Confidence is highly recommended with this strategy, as you will see several people in the heat swim away to large leads. Knowing that they will be watching you eat up their lead will help you and possibly put them in a panic. The last 50 will be very painful but made bearable by the knowledge and training of the sprinter.

    Train with lots of 50s on :45, broken swims and occasional full 500 with an eye on the clock to descend the swim totally. And keep up your speed work, it is what carries you the last 150.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine, not those of U.S. Masters Swimming. But maybe they should be.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    I go by 100's. 1-2&3 each a sec or two slower. The 4th pace as you did in 3 and the 5th as you did the 1st or 2nd.

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    Very Active Member Celestial's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimosaur View Post
    Ok, here's another question. How do you train, so as to hit the ideal splits?

    I have been doing 5x100 on 1:20, or 1:25, which gives me 10-15 sec rest per interval. I can swim a set like that at close to race pace. In races, my 250 split differences are in the range 2-6 sec, so it seems to work pretty well for me.

    But doing that one set over & over gets tiresome! Any more ideas?
    How about 6 x 125 @ 1:40/45?
    Also, a very fun mix is to do 4 x 150's on the 2:00 (or close to it) but the middle 50 - you only get to kick it!!
    I always try to race 600+ in practices, because I want to have enough gas in the tank for that last 100 - My coach has us do lots and LOTS of 100's on the 1:20 (yards) - like every single Wednesday. When we're swimming LCM, we do 12, when it's SCY we do 15 - and no resting after 6 or anything foolish like that. I think tightening up your interval so you get less rest will approximate your 500 better as well - at least if you're looking to drop time.

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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    "Real distance swimmers are very uncomfortable with changing speeds while sprinters are quite accustomed to it."

    This struck me. What do other D-folks think about this?

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    Quote Originally Posted by guppy View Post
    This struck me. What do other D-folks think about this?
    I agree. It's tough for me. When I get into a pace I'm not going to change it quickly.

    On Wednesdays at practice we usually do a main set involving a very long swim at a moderate pace (say 500 pace +10 seconds per 100), then a ten second rest followed by a series of short swims at pace (typically 5x50 with :10 rest between). We'll repeat this whole sequence three or four times. I'm getting better, but I have a hard time holding 500 pace on these short swims and it's more to do with my inability to change speeds quickly than fatigue.

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    Very Active Member Swimosaur's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    10x50 on :45 at pace. To me it feels a lot different than doing 100s.
    I tried this set today. It does indeed feel a lot different than doing 100s.

    But I had no trouble hitting the targets on a :45 interval. Perhaps I'll try :40

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    Very Active Member mcnair's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    I agree. It's tough for me. When I get into a pace I'm not going to change it quickly.
    Yep. My experience with both running and swimming distances is that smooth and subtle pace changes are essential. Since most distance swimming (and running for that matter) is at your aerobic threshold a sudden change in speed usually takes you into anaerobic zones, which means the pain is not too far behind... with lactic acid accumulating, you'll be forced to slow well below threshold to clear it out... or continue gutting through the pain until your large muscle groups seize up completely... That's why you never see elite marathoners sprinkling in speed bursts at their 5k pace during a 40-k race... they might get a couple of hundred yards ahead of the pack in relatively short order, but the trade-off is costly... pack slowly increases its pace, while the renegade runner has to slow pretty dramatically before too long... and may not have recovered fully when the pack catches up and leaves him in the dust because they increased effort slowly to avoid crossing that threshold and are now running at a pace they feel comfortable sustaining.

    Distance athletes can change speed rapidly if they want to (this happens in those attacks on the mountains in the Tour de France), but it is uncomfortable, and the results can be pretty disastrous.

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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    Quote Originally Posted by mcnair View Post

    Distance athletes can change speed rapidly if they want to (this happens in those attacks on the mountains in the Tour de France), but it is uncomfortable, and the results can be pretty disastrous.
    One thing cyclist have an opportunity to do during climb attacks is drop a gear or two to get out of saddle and engage different, more vast and powerful muscle groups

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: How to Split the 500 Freestyle

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimosaur View Post
    But I had no trouble hitting the targets on a :45 interval. Perhaps I'll try :40
    Well that's interesting. I find it pretty challenging and I try to hold :29s on a :45 sendoff, so about a 2/1 swim to rest ratio.

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