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by Cokie Lepinski

November 12, 2010

Introduction to the tempo trainer

Warm Up

Be sure and do a thorough warm up of 400-700 yards.

Mode 1


The following sets use Mode 1 of the Tempo Trainer (TT)

  • 4 x 25 Flutter Kick, no board, no fins
  • Tempo Trainer @ .20 (5 beats per second)
  • Push off on your back, arms held tight at your side. Try to match one kick with one beep of the TT. Don’t cut this short, go the full length! Rest :20.

Success comes from:

  • Keeping arms tight to side
  • Keeping kick narrow and compact
  • Keeping knees fairly straight, and toes pointed

Options: face down with snorkel, arms at side

Now try swimming 4 x 25 free without the TT but with the same kick


8 x 25 Freestyle Swim, no fins, with TT

Suggested start is between .84 and 1.04. Those with a faster turnover might try the lower setting and those with a slower turnover start with a higher setting. After every two 25s, lower the Tempo Trainer rate by .06. (Ask them to remember what their setting was on the second 2 x 25s as they’ll use this setting later.) Example:

2 x 25 at .88                        or            2 x 25 at 1.00    

then 2 x 25 at .82*                              then 2 x 25 at .94*

then 2 x 25 at .76                               then 2 x 25 at .88

then 2 x 25 at .70                               then 2 x 25 at .82

Which setting felt best? Was the fourth one an impossible rate or just slightly uncomfortable?


4 x 50 Dolphin Kick with fins on 1:00 to 1:10

TT @ .60 (just under 2 beats per second)

Streamline, face down and underwater. Breathe no fewer than every 6 kicks for the entire 50. After you breathe dive back under for 6 streamlined dolphin kicks. Ok to kick more than 6 kicks before breathing.


8 x 50 Freestyle, Pyramid,  no fins,  on 1:00

TT @ the swimmer’s 2nd setting from the 8x25 free set above *

Start on that 2nd setting from above and dial down .04 after each 50 from 1-4, from 5-8 work your way back up, dialing up .04 after each 50.


Follow with 200 easy anything


12 x 25 Freestyle Swim, no fins, rest = :10

TT @ 1.00

Start each lap leaving on a beep of the Tempo Trainer. Start with a hard push off into a perfect streamline under the water. Hold that streamline (ok to kick) through 5 or 6 beeps before starting the first stroke.

Note to coaches – play with this setting to find optimum streamline. If doing breaststroke pull downs, try holding for 3 beeps before initiating the underwater pull down and breakout stroke.

Mode 2

The following sets use Mode 2 of the Tempo Trainer (TT)

Vertical Kick

8 x Vertical Kicking at :30 (= approx. 200 yards)

Set Tempo Trainer in Mode 2 for 30 seconds.

Swimmers do vertical kick with kick of their choice (fins optional) for 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off. TT will emit 3 chirps when they hit the :30 mark.

A more challenging set is to do this vertical kicking in pairs while passing a medicine ball between them. Goal is to maintain a tight core and keep the head and hands above water the entire minute. Only one swimmer in the pair needs to wear the Tempo Trainer.


3 x 100 Freestyle Pacing, no fins

Each swimmer needs to determine their goal time to swim 3 x 100 freestyles at the same pace. For example, if their goal time is a 1:12, divide that by 4 (72 ÷ 4 = 18) and set the TT at 18 seconds per lap. You can allow them to rest through the next chirp series (18 seconds) or even two chirps (36 seconds in this case).

Options are to set the TT for a 50 split time and increase the swim to a 200 distance or greater.


4 x 50 Dolphin Kick with fins on 1:00 to 1:10

TT @ .40 to .45

Swimmers are on their back, hands at their side, and dolphin kicking to this quick tempo. This forces a short compact and efficient kick.

An option for advanced flyers is to assume the same position but raise their head to look at their feet, keeping their ears out of the water. This will really work those abs!

Warm Down

Warm down with at least 200 yards.

2400 - 2700 yards


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