Reply To: TP 5K


Mat Hudson

Hi Jamal,

It would be unusual, if not impractical, to keep the same SPL for all those gears. More realistically, you will permit the addition of one stroke 1+ SPL as tempo increases in certain calculated amounts. It is a calculated trade-off: the faster tempo requires a shortened stroke at some point because there is just less time to execute the stroke, but you must practice resisting that shortened stroke up to some point of increased tempo in order to ensure that you are swimming faster with a shorter stroke.

I use a spreadsheet calculator to estimate the gears a swimmer might aim for.

Matrix 1 shows you the SPL x Tempo Combination you must maintain as you switch from one SPL to the next, just to keep the same pace per length. Just to stay at even pace you can only afford to give 1+ SPL for each -0.06 increase in tempo (as a rough ‘rule of thumb’).

Matrix 2 offers a suggestion on how you might arrange your SPL Tempo Combinations. Working from left to right, top to bottom,

  • Gear 1 (walk): 20 x 1.48 = 34.1 seconds per 25
  • Gear 2 (jog): 20 x 1.40 = 32.5
  • Gear 3 (cruise): 21 x 1.30 = 31.8
  • Gear 4 (run): 22 x 1.20 = 30.9
  • Gear 5 (sprint): 23 x 1.10 = 29.8


Tell me these measurements and I can calculate a more specific matrix for you:

Your wingspan in centimeters.

Your average (consistent) glide distance, to your first underwater stroke. This is usually 4 to 5 meters (about where the backstroke flags are) – 3 meters is very short and 6 meters is very long but possible. Just be consistent about your glide distance.

The comfortable SPL x Tempo you’ve been using on longer swims. 20 x 1.30?

And, you might just try it out of curiosity – your time and then your SPL or Tempo on your best 100 sprint.

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~ Coach Mat