training speeds competitionTraining by competitive swimmers typically consists of repeated bouts of shorter or longer intervals in a short-course or long-course pool. Intervals span a con­tinuum from longer slower intervals (50-1600 m for developing aerobic or endurance fitness) to shorter faster intervals (15-200 m for developing anaerobic or race pace qualities). The basic prescription of in­terval training can be simplified to four primary vari­ables: (i) the number of intervals or repeat efforts, (ii) the length/distance of the interval (15 m to con­tinuous swimming), (iii) the intensity (i.e., pace or velocity) of the interval, and (iv) the rest period be­tween intervals (variously formulated as the cycle time or rest period).

The resulting training sets can be pre­sented in the well established format of number of intervals/repeats x distance (pace) on cycle time/rest period. Two examples are 20 x 100 m (1:20) on 2:00, and 16 x 50 m (@ 200 m race pace) on 1:30.

A fundamental challenge for coaches and scien­tiste is the accurate determination of specific training paces. A common approach is to base training times on the goal or predicted competition time for each individual swimmer. At the international level, this is achieved by examination of the most recent cham­pionship performances and where necessary forward projection to the upcoming major competition.