How Do I Find My Comfortable Tempo?

Forums Library Training FAQ How Do I Find My Comfortable Tempo?

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    Admin Mediterra

    Every swimmer – trained or not – has a relatively comfortable tempo he/she can swim with right now, usually the tempo you fall into when you are just thinking about swimming as easily as you can. We just measure how fast the arms are moving through the stroke cycle when you are swimming at your most comfortable stroke.

    Your current tempo or tempo range might be on the fast side or the slow side of what we universally consider Fast or Slow, but nonetheless each person can move their arms through the stroke cycle at some tempo. Whether that range is suitable for your goal is another question. But don’t worry, your tempo range can be expanded through systematic training.


    Finding Your Current Comfortable Tempo

    We encourage you to play and experiment with your Tempo Trainer Pro (which we will refer to as the ‘TT’) to find out what tempo range you currently find comfortable.

    You will use your current comfortable stroke count (strokes per length or SPL) and you will swim several lengths maintaining that SPL. If you don’t already have a guess as to what tempo to start with, in Mode 1 set your TT to 1.45 seconds and swim one length. If that feels too fast, slow down the TT by +0.03 and swim another length. If that starting tempo of 1.45 feels too slow, then speed up the TT by -0.03 and swim another length.

    If you are not sure where to start or what is too fast or too slow compared to others, you may read more in Functional Tempo Range.

    Repeat that process of adjusting tempo and swimming another length, until the tempo feels more comfortable, which means you can maintain your normal SPL at that tempo for a long swim (whatever is ‘long’ for you). As you hone in on that most comfortable tempo (which we label at ‘TC’) make smaller changes in tempo, like +0.02 or +0.01 until you hit the center of what feels comfortable.

    When you feel that you have found a tempo close enough to your comfortable center, then that can be your first TC reference point. Keep in mind that as you train more with tempo your TC will certainly shift; as your skills and fitness expand, what feels like a fast tempo to you right now will become quite comfortable later on.

    A swimmer might work through a series of repeats trying to zero in on her comfortable tempo, like this…

    • Starts at 1.45 and it feels too rushed
    • Changes to 1.45 + 0.03 = 1.48 and it still feels too rushed
    • Changes to 1.48 + 0.03 = 1.51 and it still feels fast, not as much
    • Changes to 1.51 + 0.03 = 1.54 and it feels easy, but perhaps slightly slow
    • Changes to 1.54 – 0.02 = 1.52 and it feels better
    • Changes to 1.52 – 0.01 = 1.51 and now it feels just right
    • She swim another couple lengths at 1.51 to confirm that this feels like the comfortable tempo TC.


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