Ian Thorpe A Virgin?
Tom Dolan's 1997 NCAA 1,650 Freestyle Pacing

Reader Question: Pacing the 1650

Every so often someone emails me with a swimming question.  Sometimes it's an easy question about finding a local pool or USMS team which I can just send a link away.  Sometimes the questions are all about me and I just reply with a quick answer.  But every so often I get an email like today that calls on me to ask for everyones collective experience.  MInd you I have my own ideas are will post a bit later but for now let's all help C out and find his/her pacing time for the 1650...

I was searching for some pacing information and one of your old posts came up from 2008.  I was wondering if you'd give me your 2 cents on a target pace?
Next month I'm swimming in a race for the first time in 25+ years- the 1650 - I basically haven't swum since then. I'm not trying to get faster, just trying to figure out what is a reasonable pace.
I swam 3x's with some of these results:
- 1,000 at a 1:30-1:32 pace - very manageable
- 8x 100 with about :20 rest at about 1:25 pace - still quite manageable
- a 600 a little under 1:30 pace
- several 50's at about :37 with :20 rest.  all very comfortable, but moderately hard
I'd like to do one workout next week that will tell me what kind of pace I can hit.  Do you think if I can do 12 x 100 at sub 1:25 with :20 seconds rest (without killing myself), then that might be a pace I can hold for 1650?
 I'm 48.
thanks for any advice!

In a follow up with me C writes back:

One other thing that is probably important is that I do compete at a high level in other sports in races that run about 20-23 minutes, pretty similar distance time-wise. so fitness-wise, I am in shape for this distance.  But I just don't know how to tell what is the magic pace that will not put me above AT in a swimming event, short of doing an all-out 1650 which I don't think is the right strategy.
thanks again!

Feel free to comment below and I'll pass it all along to C.  The power of social media and fitness.  Speaking of which soon I'll be linking to an article on PBS.org on the vert topic of people who use social media (ie. blogging) to achieve fitness goals.  I was lucky enough to be approached by PBS to be part of the article.  But for now let's all help C out.  Also since I have notice a lot of traffic in relation to the 1500 and the 1650 I've decided to put it in it's own category and over time including a series over the weekend will be posting more about these two events


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I'm not sure if this will help your reader or not Joel, but here goes:

Determining a race pace for a first time out is a difficult thing, particularly if (like myself) you are a better race swimmer than a practice swimmer. For me a first attempt at a distance race is better based on perceived effort rather than hitting a particular time pacing goal.

To keep my splits nice and even, I'd begin by concentrating on hitting my stroke and turns. In terms of effort, I'd use the practice instruction "strong", and increase perceived effort at benchmarks along the way.

I would also consider doing a meet simulation at a quiet lane swim, when I would do my warm-up, puddle about a bit, swim the race distance based on that plan (say going out feeling strong, building at 400's) although I might do open turns at the benchmarks to check the clock & see if I am on track.

I read C's question with interest.. it's a tough one to answer as obviously we are all different from race to training conditions, a few more variables emerge under race conditions... I use to swim the mile for my country, obviously we can all offer as much info but with time constraints i offer two simple suggestions based on my experience:

less rest between the 100's..ideally you would want to look at between 5-10 sec rest.. if that means slowing the pace so be it but it is more realistic...
even simpler, stroke counting per lap, yes, every lap... learn how many strokes per lap, correlate that to times you swim and use that as your benchmark.. it is great for rhythm but also if you are out, say swim 19 strokes as opposed to 17 learn to figure out why? technique, muscles soreness/ fatigue?

hope this makes sense....

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)