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Timed 1000's and what sets mean

posted Feb 20, 2012, 1:11 PM by Ellis Aquatics   [ updated Feb 28, 2012, 11:48 AM by Pat Windschitl ]
Have you ever wondered why some sets we do are set with different intervals for different swimmers and why some sets are on the same interval practice wide? Or why we would swim 3 timed 1000's back to back? This is all because of set classifications. Practice sets are labeled as REC (Recovery), EN (Endurance) or SP (Sprint), and these further breakdown as level 1 (the easiest)  to level 3 (the most intense). Each of these classifications and levels have a purpose in helping make you the best athlete possible.  

Let's look at these 3 levels in more detail:

REC (Recovery) 
These sets are generally done at either an easy interval everyone can make, or with no interval at all. Whenever you are doing an easy warm-up, cool-down, or focused drill work it's at REC pace. This level gives your body a chance to recover or lets you focus on completing a drill properly when you're swimming. 

SP (Sprint) 
Sprint sets with what could be called an easy interval too, if not for the fact we are asking you to move FAST! Faster than you ever have before. A sample SP1 set would include 10x50's at Race Pace on the 1:00. We do SP2 sets when we do broken 200's by 50's, with rest or easy laps between the 200's. And SP3 sets are 25's & 50's all out from a dive. This level helps us develop tempo, speed, and a feel for going fast in the water during a race. These sets are supposed to get your heart level up and racing! These sets let everyone have a lot of rest, but they also require everyone to be swimming FAST!

EN (Endurance): Our Main Topic Point
EN sets are the third type of set. Most of our training is done at this level, and most of this training is done at your approximate EN threshold pace. We can discover your EN threshold pace in many different ways during a practice. But right now we are just going to focus on one type, the ever popular timed 3x1000's or T-30 set.

The T-30 test set is a timed swim over a set distance that takes about 30 minutes to complete. This can be done with repeated distances of 100’s, 200’s, 500’s, or 1000’s at race pace.  Most recently this has been accomplished with our timed 3x1000's on Saturday Mornings. During this, Clay and I calculate split time averages to discover your 50 & 100 threshold pace (or time you can hold repeatedly for a distance swim). We can then use this time to design Endurance swims around where you are currently at. This lets us know that swimmer who held a 1:10's for a 1000 (11:40 pace), could reasonably hold 1:00-1:05's for 5x100's on the 1:10 pace, but it would be unreasonable to ask a swimmer who went 13:00's to do the same. 

This also helps us identify goal times for all of you when we do repeated distances. One example set could be 15 x 100 on race pace + :20-30 seconds rest (which would be told to you as 15 x 100's on the 1:30, holding either a 1:00, 1:05, or 1:10 pace). By knowing what you've held for distance before, we can better identify where you should be at today.

Some things to avoid
One of the biggest problems with SP sets is when swimmers are moving fast, but not all-out, I'm going to pass out, oh when is this over, FAST! When this happens the set stops being a SP set, and instead becomes an ineffective EN set that doesn't have enough yards to actually build endurance. But that's a topic to discuss in more detail later. 

Swimmers also run into problems when they don't recognize the importance of the set as an EN2 set and they might swim it too slowly. Instead of swimming them near our race pace and getting the 20-30 seconds rest you might find it easier to swim them at 15 seconds slower than race pace and get 10 seconds rest. But in doing so you turn the set from a an EN2 set into an EN1 set with much less of an effect and doesn't meet the goal of the workout, or might not help you maximize the set to benefit you the most.

If you want any more information on this, feel free to do some research starting here. Or If you've got a question on what a sets specific purpose is during a workout, please don't hesitate to ask about it. 

- Coach Pat