International Center for Aquatic Research. Interval training design. The Coaches' Newsletter of United States Swimming, 4(5).

When swimming repeats at a certain intensity level (speed x duration), the amount of recovery will determine the total effect of that set on improvement in the energy systems. The longer the rest, the more specific will be the training effect to the particular pace that was held in the set. With short rest periods and associated slow swimming pace, the more nonspecific to race pace the swimming will be. For example, if one were training for a 200 m event, 100 m repeats with a work: recovery ratio of 1:2 should encourage more specific training effects to the event than would occur with a a 1:1 ratio. Swimming 200 m repetitions provokes too much of an endurance response at the expense of race-pace specificity for 200 m competitions. Thus, repetition work will likely be at distances that are at least half the race distance and that can accommodate the maintenance of race-specific pace.

As an athlete adapts to the training stress, the volume of race-pace efforts should increase. That is a good field test of how conditioning is improving in swimming. When the volume ceases to increase then maximum fitness has been attained and swimming improvements should be sought through other training effects (e.g., skill efficiency, psychology).

Implication. It makes little sense to perform large volumes of non-specific pace swimming in training programs other than in the transition and basic preparatory periods of training.

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