Contemporary practices of high-performance swimming coaches on pacing skill development and competition preparation

K. E. McGibbon, D. B. Pyne, M. E. Shephard, M. A. Osborne, K. G. Thompson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Pacing is arguably more crucial for optimal performance in swimming than in land-based sports, however little is known about the process of developing pacing skills in swimmers. The aim of this study was to examine the current practices of high-performance swimming coaches in relation to pacing entrainment and competition preparation. Twenty-one swimming coaches who were currently coaching or had coached swimmers at national open, international age or international open level, participated in a semi-structured interview. Interview transcripts were examined using hierarchical content (qualitative) analysis to identify general dimensions, higher-order themes and sub-themes. Data were categorised into two main areas: training and competition. The general dimensions of monitoring, pacing aids, periodisation and training for multiple events emerged within training; whereas optimal strategy, racing, warm up swims and multiple main events emerged within competition. Coaches identified the importance of a highly individualised approach based on swimmer needs and characteristics. However, the difficulty in achieving this goal when working with large groups of swimmers was identified as a challenge. Although swimming is a time-based sport, efficient technique and pacing were considered vital to success. Despite this, it appears that key variables including stroke rate, stroke count, split times and rating of perceived exertion were not monitored by a number of coaches. These parameters are likely important tools to maximise pacing skill development, especially in young swimmers. However, given the current lack of information on how athletes learn and develop pacing skills, coaches would benefit from evidence-based guidelines in this area.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)495-505
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternational Journal of Sports Science and Coaching
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


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