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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > September 2018 > SET THE PACE


These training sets from Fiona Ford will help you improve your pace judgement, a critical racing skill


Using a pace clock is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your pacing as an endurance swimmer. Being able to read and use a traditional pace clock is a fail-safe way of training smart using your numbers (i.e.your target pace as determined by your critical swim speed), as many pools will have one on display. Using such a time-proven method to train means you can develop your intuition and judgement, which are vital components of effective pacing skills.

Good pace judgement and control is critical for optimum performance for all swim distances except perhaps the 50m dash. The longer the swim, the more important it becomes. If you are training for typical open water distances of 1500m to 10km then understanding your pacing tendencies in training is a good place to begin, if you haven’t already noticed trends in your times. What happens to your speed on a standard main set of 10, 15 or 20 x 100m? Do you tend to set off relatively fast in your sessions, due to the effort feeling easy initially, and then see a drop-off in pace? Or do you follow the opposite trend and sustain your initial pace throughout and perhaps increase your speed on the final reps? An elite swimmer will produce race split times with the second pattern. Often amateur swimmers will be training the opposite conditioning system: starting fast and fading.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

A growing number of endurance athletes are swimming for good rather than glory. Perhaps the most prominent of these is Lewis Pugh, UN Patron of the Oceans. We were privileged to join him on a leg of his Long Swim of the length of the English Channel, which he is undertaking to raise awareness of the plastic in our oceans. Elsewhere in the magazine we bust some more technique myths, visit the Galapagos Islands and the Peak District, test the latest outdoor gear for swimming adventures and meet the writers of best-selling book The Salt Path.