Training Use Ideas

1. PACE CLOCK & MARKER FOR BETTER TURNS, WALL WORK AND BREAKOUTS: Synchronize your PACE PAL® Underwater clocks with an “above-water” wall clock or another PACE PAL® on deck. Put the PACE PAL Clocks on the bottom of both ends of the pool about 1 yard farther out than your usual breakout stroke. Face the screens straight up so they cannot be read until directly swimming over the clocks looking straight down at the initiation of the breakout stroke. This encourages excellent turns, wall work, streamlining and not breathing on the first stroke out of a turn. Improving turns by 1 yard (or even a fractional amount) can have a significant cumulative effect on final times. In this application, PACE PAL® is used as a pace clock and marker. Some of the great Olympians use PACE PAL® in this way, as an underwater pace clock and marker for improved push-offs, streamlining and dolphin kicking, leading to a great head-down breakout. – Every turn becomes an opportunity to improve these key elements. The reward for improving these skills is significant! Mel Stewart wrote some great articles on PACE PAL® describing these and other benefits:

2. DISTANCE AND MIDDLE DISTANCE PACING SETS: PACE PAL® Underwater Pace Clocks are excellent for descending, ascending, ladder or constant pace sets. For example a descending freestyle set of 6 x 500 where the goal is to evenly hold 60 seconds per 100 on the first interval 500; then 59 on the second 500, 58, 57, 56, etc. The variables are unlimited. Strategically paced “ladder” sets with a given goal pace per 100 are greatly facilitated by a pace clock on the bottom of the pool. For example, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000 with the goal being to hold each and every 100 at a set steady pace (i.e. 59 per 100). The so-called “Fishburn Set” invented by my teammate, Dan Fishburn, at the University of Michigan in the early 1970’s is a natural fit for PACE PAL®.

3. ULTRA SHORT RACE PACE TRAINING (“USRPT”) WITH PACE PALs ON THE BOTTOM FOR HEAD DOWN FINISHES: USRPT can be implemented in a team setting by synchronizing PACE PAL® Clocks with a natatorium wall mounted clock before placing PACE PAL® on the bottom at both ends of each lane so swimmers see their time clock face down upon completion of each length. This promotes proper finishes. This is the way renowned Coach Mike Bottom uses PACE PALs for team USRPT when one-on-one coach timing is not feasible. Coach Bottom has 12 PACE PALs covering 6 USRPT lanes – a clock on the bottom at each end.

4. ULTRA SHORT RACE PACE TRAINING (“USRPT”) WITH PACE PALs ON DECK, ABOVE WATER: USRPT can be implemented in a team setting with synchronized PACE PAL® Clocks above water, on deck, at both ends of each lane so swimmers see the clock right in front of their face upon completion of each length. In 50 meter (long course) pools you may also want to put a PACE PAL® on the bottom facing straight up at the 25 meter mid-point. This provides additional feedback to the swimmer and makes them responsible for their own training speed. – It keeps their “head in the game.” PACE PAL® facilitates USRPT for a team when one-on-one coach timing is not feasible.

5. ULTRA SHORT RACE PACE TRAINING PLUS (USRPT+): Turns and wall-work are so important! However, typical USRPT is done in 1 length increments and fails to include a turn. To remedy this submerge a PACE PAL® clock mid-length (12.5 yards off the wall) on the bottom, facing straight up so you have to be directly over it to see the elapsed time. This facilitates accurate timing of 1 1/2 length short course swims with a turn. Example set: 10 x 37.5 yards stroke at 200 yard race pace followed by 12.5 yards active rest (easy swim) freestyle to complete each 50 yard swim on 1 minute.

6. OPEN WATER PACING AND BETTER “SIGHTING”: Find a nice beach front on clear water. Measure a long straight course with a cord (braided nylon/Dacron kite line) on the bottom (5′ to 10′ water depth). You could also measure the course using a golf course range finder capturing distance to an anchored float (i.e. milk bottle). Make the course as long as you want subject to bottom depth. PACE PAL® should not be placed deeper than 10 feet. Synchronize two PACE PAL® Clocks and put them on the bottom at each end of the course. Leave the kite line down on the bottom and swim over it if you are training for pool races. However, if you’re training for open water competition remove the line from the bottom and tether milk bottles as floats to the PACE PAL®’s. Then incorporate “sighting” into your breathing pattern by looking for the bottles as you train in the open water.


Synchronize PACE PAL® with an above water wall or PACE PAL® on deck. Tether swimmer to a starting block with a stretch cord. Have tethered swimmer push off and swim as fast and far as they can. Note how far head of swimmer reaches down the lane and place PACE PAL® on the bottom facing straight up at that point. Have tethered athletes push off and swim high intensity bursts fast as they can in holding in place over the clock for short intense interval (i.e. 10-30 seconds) or until failure. This is a valuable form of High Intensity Interval Training (“HIIT”).

8. RACE PACE TRAINING: HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU HEARD SWIMMERS COMPLAIN AFTER A RACE “I DIDN’T KNOW I WAS OUT THAT FAST/SLOW? I HAD TOO MUCH LEFT OR “DIED” AT THE END. A key trait of great swimmers is intelligent race splitting (“pacing”). This trait can be learned with practice and the proper tools, like the PACE PAL® Underwater Pace Clock.

The following are some great ideas PACE PAL® received from Coach Paul Mangen at Saint Leo University:

“We are using them for our distance kids between backstroke flags and wall for pace on distance stuff where a specific pace is demanded. I would rather they look down at the clock each hundred or even 50 than try to locate an on deck pace clock.

For sprinters we put the PACE PAL® in mid pool and have them hit a time as well. For 50 swimmer wanting to go 20, that is 10 seconds per 25 which is 5 seconds per 12.5…so I put the PACE PAL® right in the middle of pool where swimmer has to swim over the clock and see it go from 4 to 5 precisely. Same for stroke and middle distance swimmers.

Since we have 6 PACE PAL®’s at Saint Loe University we can also put them on deck of each lane on the opposite side from main clock so swimmers don’t have to look back into the sun (pool faces west/east) in the evening. In addition we use them for circuits for dry-land. We have groups/stations all over pool deck and fitness center and it allows for a concentrated effort to stay on task.

I also think it is important is to have swimmers incorporate some “blind pace” swimming. For example, swimmers do a set of 20 x 100 where they do 5 with pace clock, 5 without, 5 with etc. so they truly feel and understand the pace…” – Coach Paul Mangen,

9. DRY-LAND AND PRIVATE FITNESS COACHING: “I provide fitness coaching services and use my PACE PAL® in semi-private training sessions so my members can keep track of their own rest periods. It helps reposition me as the expert and do what I do best instead of being a counter! Love the large display. It helps them see it easily and stay on track for rest periods. They can also track intervals on their own while I am in coaching form.” – Philip Deer

10. STARTS WITH BREAKOUTS: Synchronize PACE PAL® with your wall clock or another on deck PACE PAL®. Place the underwater PACE PAL® face-up at the point where the swimmer should try to reach off the start at the breakout. Great for sprinters and all distances and strokes.

11. SPRINTS IN 50 METER POOLS: Place clock face up at the midpoint (25 meter mark).

12. ENDLESS POOL INTERVAL TRAINING: Synchronize two PACE PAL®‘s (one on the bottom face-up and one above water) to facilitate interval training in flow current pools. (i.e. 10 x 2 minutes with 30 seconds rest interval, viewed after you are swept back to the end of the tank, stand up, and wait for your send off from the above water PACE PAL®

13. SHAVED TAPER RACE PACE “FEEL” SWIMS: After shaving for big meets tapered swimmers “feel” the water differently. – This can lead to swims at 200 yards and above that are taken out too fast with dire consequences. PACE PAL®’s placed on the pool bottom for some short race pace swims can help the tapered athlete gauge “feel” and pace after shaving so they can race intelligently.

14. TAPER WORKOUTS: During taper workouts and/or before big meets, it’s extremely difficult for swimmers to control their speed–fast or slow. Shaving down compounds the problem. Placing Pace Pal clocks in strategic locations during taper workouts will help your swimmers “control” or manage their speed in these workouts and carry that knowledge into their main/big event.


Everybody is invited to make suggestions for training with the PACE PAL® Underwater (of course it works well on deck, above the water, too.)

At PACE PAL® we believe,after coach and team, the pace clock is a swimmer’s best training friend –THAT’S WHY WE CALLED IT “PACE PAL.”