Level 1 – Tempo Practice Instructions

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  • #16789
    Admin Mediterra


    This is the general outline for your Tempo Practice:

    • Tune-Up (a.k.a. warm-up) – your choice
    • Main Set 1
    • Main Set 2
    • Review (a.k.a. cool-down, or wrap-up) – your choice

    The distance and complexity of these tempo sets are designed according to the stage. You will find those sets listed for each practice plan.



    To begin you will need to experiment (if you don’t already know) to find a tempo that feels quite natural to you already. This would be a tempo that is comfortable to hold for as long as you can swim right now. We will call this TC (for Tempo – Comfortable).


    • To increase precision of movements during breathing.
    • To improve the consistent timed rhythm of those movements.


    The main sets will total about 500 to 2000 meters.


    Work around RPE 3 to 4, with the expectation that improvement in control over breathing will lower your sense of effort from RPE 4 to 3.


    The challenge level (the neurological complexity) is determined by the focal points you choose and the standard for quality you set for each of those focal points, and the tempo at which you try to perform.

    For Level 1 swimmers you may keep the tempo at TC for the entire course – though I anticipate you will feel like increasing it slightly within a few weeks, as your breathing gets better. You are free to keep it the same or increase slightly, according to the prescriptions in the practices.

    For Level 2 swimmers I will recommend tempo increases at each stage (or per week). In the first week you will keep you tempo at TC. The tempo will increase in certain increments, no more than -0.02 steps at a time.

    I will give those recommendations, but again, you will need to adjust a little more or a little less to suit your individual needs.

    Success Is… (a.k.a. Measurements)

    Your quantity objective is to hold the assigned tempos for each set. Your quality objective is to successfully achieve your focal point goal 60-90% of the drill or interval at 2 or 3 Star performance (see Rating System For Qualities article above for definition of Quality Star Rating). 

    Failure Points

    When you notice yourself failing to achieve your objective for the task that is the trigger for you to find the possible cause so you can make adjustments in your focal point or adjustment in your task complexity. If you are failing to meet your standard for more than 50% of  the time you may add more rest, or lower the tempo slightly (by .01 or .02 seconds).

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