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Question about counting lengths

OK, so in 40 minutes at the pool tonight I did... I don't know how much.

Anyone have a good strategy for counting lengths? I get to about 6 and lose count. Frustrating, when I'm trying to train for an ironman and can't figure out if I'm doing 6 x 200m in my 40 minutes, or doing 1x200, 1x220, 1x240, 1x160, and 2x180.

Any good strategies for counting lenths / laps whilst swimming?


  • jibby26jibby26 Posts: 261
    I use a watch and measure my set times. With experience I have got to know roughly what time I should be on at each end, and can glance at the lap time to double check where I am in the set. If I am doing a long continuous set I split after every 10 lengths.
  • meakiemeakie Posts: 124
    if you are really struggling you can buy a clicker, a device you put on your finger and you use your thumb to click everytime you complete a length.

    Saw it advertised in 220 mag actually not so long back

    Failing that, just say it out loud on every even no, "2, 4. 6" etc.. if you arent tumbleturning of course..

    its a pain when you lose count innit..

  • GGBGGB Posts: 482
    Do a search on "counting legnths" there is a thread about this or two... I have ordered my counter but is on back order until forst week in April :(

  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    If you don't want to buy a clicker, then try going in twos....

    Doing two lengths is easy. Then you are halfway to four. Do another two and you are halfway to a set of eight. Repeat to make the full set.

    Sounds obvious, but I find it really easy to think in terms of 'quarter way there' or 'halfway there' rather than '1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,8'.

    Sets of 8 divide up nicely to do a 1600m set (8x8) in a 25m pool.

    Another technique, from a tip I picked up on these forums, is to use each 8 to concentrate on a particular aspect of your stroke... say catch, push, shoulder rotation, kick for 4x8 lengths. All this shoud help you keep count.

    ....or buy a clicker. Then you can start to get stressed thinking 'Did I click it?'.
  • gomiboygomiboy Posts: 59
    Thinking is the killer for me - too much time on my hands with too little stimulus... the mind wanders. Which is fine, as the workouts go much faster. But does mean that I tend to loose count.

    Thanks for the tips, though. I'll start with Bopo's as that sounds like something good for me, then if that doesn't work I'll look at getting a clicker.


  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    gomiboy.... know what you mean, mate. On the rare occasions when I do a long swim I do find that if I have a clear lane and don;t have to fight through plodders then it is very hard to keep count. After about 10 mins I go into a meditative state and can just keepo on cranking out lengths, but I've no idea how many.

    Of course, there's the other tip for counting that I forgot... for most sessions you should not be doing more than about 200m at a time anyway.
  • gomiboygomiboy Posts: 59
    Bopo - It's also about counting the 200s. I think this evening I did about 8 200m stretches, but it may have been 6 or it may have been 10... I swim in a 25m pool. So that's pretty close to your recommended 8x8. I'll try your method as I think I can keep that in my head for 3 minutes or so for each 200m set.
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    No more than 200s?
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    No more than 200s?

    Yeah, seems to work for me.

    For my weekly coached session we rarely, if ever, go over 200m at a time. My own drills session will be 3300-3800 total including just 2 200m swims, everything else is shorter - including single lengths. I do another session that I mix up a bit so this may once a month be a long continuous swim of 3-4km or 10x400m or maybe a load of sprints with some mates.

    Once a month I do a 400m time trial. Early morning swims are divided up into smaller chunks because of traffic.

    I suppose I could work out the exact distances, but I'd guess that over 90% of my swim training is done at distances of 200m or less, to ensure I preserve my form - such as it is.

    I find 8 x 200m with a 10-15s rest to be a harder and, most importantly, higher quality swim than a single 1600m effort.

    As always, though, please ignore me. I'm not a coach. Your mileage may vary etc etc.
  • combatdwarfcombatdwarf Posts: 258
    I can only say go with the Sportcount - I have been trying to count lengths since I was about 5 (when I started competitive training) and I simply cannot do it....mind wanders!

    Sportcounts are great but every now and then you do think - now did I press it or not....
  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    Bought the sportscount thingie a while ago and its really great. All the problems you describe, I had them too, but not anymore. It was almost like a revelation.

    I don't wear the gadget on coached sessions in our club, cause you follow a training plan then and can't loose count(unless the coach and allother swimmers lose count together with you[:D]).

    All the other swims I wear the lap counter(with handy timer and fastest/slowest split).
  • woodywoody Posts: 52
    sportcount 4 me as well, best thing for keeping track, last time in the pool I wore it and the swimp3 and clocked up 128 lengths.
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Nope, Bop not ignoring you at all, when anyone asks why no more than 200m I shall quote you & call your name, as a poor(ish) swimmer 200m is a nice number, altho' I do the odd 400m, but I don't like it.
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    ".... but Bopo MADE me do it!"

    tee hee. Just keep those rests short: let your arms recover, but not your heart rate. I often don't bother with looking at the clock, just allow myself ten deep breaths then back at it.
  • gomiboygomiboy Posts: 59
    OK, so I've ordered the sportscount thingy... seems like a good deal.

    I've also not been able to practice swimming as the bloody job keeps expecting me to work 20 hours a day... but I will try bopo's method at noon today come hell or high water.

    I've also got another request - what's a good pace workout? I'm doing an ironman in july, and I'm more concerned with wasting myself on the swim and bike and having nothing left for the run so I really want to work on keeping a steady pace for 4km that doesn't spend too much energy...

    Any ideas? I swim 3-4 days per week for about an hour at a time, covering around 3km but split up into drills and shorter pieces now. Should I be swimming long slow pieces?
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