You will certainly be wondering what these letters stand for, as I did when I first came across this new training theory. USRPT is the acronym for “Ultra Short Race Pace Training”.
You are probably still turning up your nose, because this has not made you any less sceptical about this new theory I am about to present.
But let’s begin by taking a look back into the past…. USRPT was first mentioned over half a century ago in Australia. That was back in the 1960s and Professor Brent Rushall, who was young back then, began experimenting with what was then a revolutionary method on a number of athletes. The revolutionary thing about Rushall’s approach was to base training around swimming technique and performance quality. Dr Rushall’s ideas reached as far as the USA, so he moved to the States and that is where this interesting theory really took off.
USRPT is, first and foremost, a system focusing on technique, which draws on a special training method to really focus on learning the technique used for racing. The second priority is to make trainers good teachers, so that they can help swimmers change their racing technique. Thirdly, bearing in mind that psychology determines results, this training system tends to emphasise this aspect.
Here is an example of training that highlights the aspects that have just been described, mainly focusing on streamlining, head position and reducing vertical motion while swimming:
– Warmup: 400 free swimming
– Work-out focused on reducing resistance to water: 12 x 50 m freestyle or backstroke at 60” for 200m pace. Each ‘odd’ rep in the set is swum as usual. Change the position of your head and shoulders for every ‘even’ rep, raising your hips and legs. Count the number of swim strokes for each even rep. If the number of arm strokes is less than for the odd reps, then you are on the right track.
– 5 minutes slow legs
– Using your new swimming position: 16 x 25 m freestyle or backstroke at 60” for 100m pace. Make sure your head and shoulders are in their new position.
– 5 minutes swimming anything but your usual swim stroke
– Using your new swimming position: 12 x 50 m freestyle or backstroke at 60” for 200m pace. Make sure your head and shoulders are in their new position.
– 10 minutes swimming any stroke
The first part of this article is not intended to reveal some absolute truth, just to arouse your curiosity and encourage you to find out more, because every training method has its pros and cons and it is up to all good coaches and swimmers to decide which is the best approach for them.
In the second part we will look at the more performance-related side of the USPRT method. Make sure you do not miss it and keep on following us!