The Ticking Time Bomb

As you’re probably aware if you’ve been following Swim Smooth for a while now, a key piece of gadgetry for many of our sessions over the last 10 or so years, is the humble Finis Tempo Trainer Pro. 

This little device was originally designed to allow you to manipulate your stroke rate with a regular audio beep to remind you when each hand should enter the water. You could increase or decrease your natural stroke rate depending on what you were trying to achieve with your technique. Despite many misconceptions in the early days with the original version (and its competitor, the Perth-based “Wetronome”) as being “only for the PROs”, we’ve found it to be brilliantly effective with all levels of swimmer, especially those learning to develop better rhythm and timing in their stroke as it helps to remove a lot of the “over thinking” commonly attributed to developing your stroke. 

Over the years we’ve posted a lot on various ways of how to use the Tempo Trainer Pro (this post being particularly popular: ) and within the new Swim Smooth platform, once you’ve inputted your CSS pace, for any of the 1,000+ training sessions you can elect to choose from (or even follow a bespoke training plan for your next event), you’ll be shown exactly what setting to use and what pace, cycle time or stroke rate to input based on your own metrics. This is something our Swim Smooth Coaches can seemingly do for their Squad swimmers blindfolded, but if you’re training by yourself, a little bit of a nudge in the right direction is always useful!

This week here in Perth our swimmers tackled another version of the infamous 5km Red Mist session in the pouring rain. To add a little gamification to the set, we used a method which we affectionately refer to as a “ticking time bomb”. 

Essentially this is similar to a Red Mist Cycle whereby you have to beat the beeper’s cycle time to achieve some rest (“swimming for your rest” as the Squad like to call it), but with the beeper set to an extended cycle time for a distance of greater than the usual 50m cycle. You work to gain distance and time ahead of the beeper, never quite sure when it’s next going to go off!

For example, if you swam at your CSS pace of 1:40/100m, you’d cover each 50m in 50 seconds, so a Red Mist Cycle of RM5 (50+5 = 55 seconds in this case) would imply that you’d get 5 seconds ahead of the beeper for every 50m you covered. You can elect to swim quicker and get more rest, or most likely in a tough set like the Red Mist session, you’ll be cautiously swimming quick enough to get some rest, but not so quick that you risk blowing up. Sometimes that margin is as fine as just 1 or 2 seconds per 100m!

With our Wednesday session we had a block in Part 1 totalling 1800m which was broken down into 6 x 150m at the equivalent of RM6, 6 x 100m at the equivalent of RM4 and 6 x 50m on RM3. Rather than setting the beeper at the 50m Red Mist Cycle though, in the 150m intervals, the beeper was set at a cycle time that would be the equivalent of RM6 over the whole 150m, meaning the swimmers only heard the beeper at the start of each interval and were tactically swimming at a speed quick enough to beat this “ticking time bomb”, but not so quick that they couldn’t complete the set. It provided a really fun and engaging challenge that is different to using the pool clock as a send off as you can be more accurate and specific to your send off time as well as the nervous excitement of waiting to hear that beep go off! 

Taking our earlier example for that first set of 6 x 150m, this would be 50+6 = 56 seconds, multiply this by 3 (for the 150m distance) and you get 2 minutes and 48 seconds to complete each swim before you need to be ready to set off for the next one. Working out the mental arithmetic for that on the pool clock when you’re under duress would be very difficult, but with the beeper set, it’s easy to focus on your swimming and just wait to hear the beep. 

For the 100m intervals on an equivalent of RM4, this swimmer would need to set their Tempo Trainer in Mode 2 to 1m48s and for the 50m intervals on RM3 down to 53 seconds. All these times include the swim and rest time, which is why they’re commonly referred to as “send off” times. 

If you’re back into the pool and only able to swim a short session due to COVID restrictions, Part 1 could be an excellent bang-for-your-buck session all in its own right! Give it a go and let us know how you get on - better still, swim it using your Apple Watch or Garmin device and get some feedback on how well you actually paced yourself using our Execution Score within the new Swim Smooth platform. 



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