Pace Work

By Garrett Weber-Gale//Olympian

Championship season is right around the corner, and soon we’ll be ready to do some seriously fast swimming.


Before we get there, it’s essential to crank out some pace sets in practice that will help prepare us for the races we’re about to compete in. Pace work not only allows us to get our bodies moving fast, but also lets us work on our stroke while mimicking the speed of a race.


Doing pace work can be different for each person depending upon how old they are, what they swim and how much they train. My pace usually consists of 50’s and 75’s, that are often descended. Sometimes if I’m at the start of my taper season, I’ll throw a couple 100’s pace in there to keep my endurance strong.


The following is a pace set Eddie Reese, head coach at the University of Texas, gave me to help me prepare for the U.S. Nationals in Atlanta starting Dec. 1.


Three 200s, broken at each 50, descend:

  • For the first 200, the 50s are broken on :45.
  • For the second 200, the 50s are broken on 1:00.
  • For the third 200, the 50s are broken on 1:15.
  • The goal is to descend the effort and times on each round of 50’s. At the end of each round we add the 50 times up and are left with the time of a 200. Each 200 should be faster than one before it.

These were my times:

  • 4x50 on :45: 23.1, 23.7, 23.4, 23.0.
  • 4x50s on 1:00: 22.1, 22.5, 22.5, 22.6.
  • 4x50s on 1:15: 22.0, 22.0, 22.2, 22.0.

Between each round of 50s, I took an 8-to-10 minute break to swim around and relax my body. These intervals are not set in stone. Feel free to alter the set with your coach so that it is right for you. Don’t skimp on the effort.


I was very happy with this set. Before starting the set, I was unsure what I would be able to do. Starting taper, my body often feels weird. At times my practices can be a bit unpredictable. If this happens to you, don’t worry. It’s normal. Pace sets like this give me a lot of confidence moving forward towards my championship meets. 


Even though we’re trying to swim fast, we must always remember to have as close to perfect technique as possible. Efficiency is one of the keys to fast swimming.


Train hard, eat right, swim fast!

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