The key to faster racing: Negative Splitting

For middle- and long-distance swimmers pacing is a key element in successful races. The ideal pacing, which leads to the fastest possible times, is to negative split. A negative split is where the second half is faster than the first half of the swim. To achieve this goal, you must swim this way at workouts. Here are some helpful concepts that will improve your ability to negative split:

  • Start easy and increase your effort. In order to maintain the same pace over distance you need to work harder. During the early phases of the distance the selected pace should feel easy to maintain. As your body tires, you need to work harder to hold the same time. If you start out feeling like you are working hard a, how will you be able to get faster later?
  • Do sets on an interval which will give you only a short amount of rest. The better shape you are in, the shorter amount of rest you need. Start on an interval, that allows you to successfully hold your pace and then drop your interval over several weeks/months until you can hold getting less than 5 seconds per 100 yards/meters swum.
  • Do not do the sets on some number of seconds rest. Stick to using the interval. Intervals give you more rest when you are going faster, and less rest when you drop off. This will help you develop consistent pacing
  • Do sets that are longer than the goal race distance. If you race distance is a mile do sets that are 2000 yards long. They don’t need to be straight 2000 yards swims.
  • Use a tempo trainer. If you continue to struggle to hold pace and find your splits ascending instead of descending, a tempo trainer may help. A tempo trainer is also a great tool for those who swim in open water and don’t have the advantage of watching your splits. A tempo trainer is a metronome for swimmers. Worn under a cap or attached to a goggle strap you set the trainer to beep at a consistent predetermined interval. You then keep your stroke in time with the tempo trainer’s beeps. While not as good as watching your interval times, it can help you to maintain a consistent pace.

These training hints, are meant to help you learn how to negative split. Once you begin to successfully, hold your pace and descend you need to do some race pace training. This is when you swim the actual distance at the same pace you are attempting to achieve in the race.

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