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Basics

Intervals
Most swimming sets are based on timed intervals. Intervals should be set so that everyone in the lane is able to finish a rest a pre-determined amount of time. Each person will normally leave five seconds behind the person in front of them. Watch the clock to make sure you are not impeding on the person’s space in front of or behind you.

Pace Clock
Swimming is based on sets or intervals. One of the most difficult things for a new swimmer to do is to keep swimming while figuring out when they are supposed to leave for the next interval. Think of the clock in sections.

Intervals or pace that is exactly one minute (or two minutes or three minutes, etc.) are easy. Whatever number you leave on the first time, will be the same number for all repeats in the entire set.

When using intervals or pace that are 30 seconds (or 1:30, 2:30, etc.) you will always leave on one of two numbers. Those numbers will be directly across from one another on the pace clock.

Intervals of either 20 or 40 seconds section clock into thirds. This means you will always leave on one of three numbers. If your interval is 20 seconds (or 1:20, 2:20, etc.) your numbers will rotate clockwise. If your interval is 40 seconds (or 1:40, 2:40, etc.) your numbers will rotate counterclockwise.

Intervals of either 15 or 45 seconds will section the clock into fourths. Intervals ending in 15 seconds (1:15, 2:15, etc.) will have send-off numbers rotating clockwise. Send-off times in 45 second intervals (:45, 1:45, etc.) will have send-off numbers that rotate counter clockwise. In both cases, send-off numbers will alternate ending in 5 and 0.

Intervals of 10 seconds (1:10, 2:10, 3:10, etc.) and 50 seconds (:50, 1:50, 2:50, etc.) are easy. For 10 second intervals your next send-off always advances in a clockwise rotation. Send-offs for 50 second intervals always retract in a counterclockwise rotation.

Intervals of 5 seconds (1:05, 2:05, etc.) and 55 seconds (:55, 1:55, 2:55, etc.) will always advance and retract one number respectively.
You will often hear swimmer say, “Let’s leave at the top or the bottom.” This means on the 0 seconds (the top of the clock) or on the 30 seconds (on the bottom).
A big thank you to WSU Masters swimming for the Pace Clock Help!
Circle Swimming
Circle swimming is an art form so it is important to remember a few key points.
  • Always swim down the right side which means you will swim counterclockwise
  • If you are getting passed, stay close to the lane line on your right. If you are passing someone, go to the middle and be cautious of someone coming towards you
  • When coming to a wall, begin moving to the middle or left of the lane a soon as you pass the person in front of you
  • When you finish an interval, be aware that the person behind you wants to get to the wall so move to the left for them, but be careful not to step in front of someone leading the lane