LYNX fall group swim sessions are underway and I want to talk about one of my favourite pieces of swim gear, the Finis Tempo Trainer.  This little gadget isn’t overly complicated but there are a few things I’m going to share in this post to make things easy for you to go from package to practice without having to read the instructions!  Sample workout included at the end.

This is the Finis Tempo Trainer Pro and a goggle mount:

Most people do not use the goggle mount because it is really hard to snap on your goggles. Instead, all my swimmers just shove their tempo trainers up under their caps – usually near their temple or above their forehead – anywhere it doesn’t conflict with google straps.  What you need to know:

  1. once out of the package, remove the thin plastic film from the front of the face
  2. turn it on by pressing and holding the bottom right button
  3. to turn off the unit, you hold down the bottom two buttons together
  4. cycle through the 3 modes by pressing and holding the top single button

Note:  if you start experiencing trouble here and are not able to move through the different modes, you could have a unit with a dead battery.  I have seen many of them not work right out of the package. The unit does come with a battery but assume that it might be dead or is going to die quickly and stock up with a spare battery. The unit takes a 1620 battery sold at most drug stores and it’s very easy to change.

Mode 1: Pacing mode with the most precision. Swimmers usually set this to a specific 25m pace. The unit in the first photo is set in mode 1 to 24.5 seconds.  It will beep every 24.5 seconds over and over again. If the swimmer were trying to hold this pace, they would want to be turning on the wall and hearing the beep every 25m. This equates to a 1:38 100m pace (24.5 x 4) with the tempo trainer providing pace feedback (i.e. beeping) every 25m.

Mode 2: Also a pacing mode but with less precision.  Below, the unit is in mode 2 and set to beep every 49 seconds.  Here, if the swimmer were holding pace, they would be hearing the beep every 50m as they turned on the wall. This also equates to a 1:38 per 100m pace (:49 x 2) but with the tempo trainer providing pace feedback every 50m rather than 25m.

Mode 3: This mode is for stroke rate – the number of strokes (each arm) you take in one minute.  Note, this is not a measure of strokes per length but rather your turnover rate in one minute. Think of this like rpm (cadence) on a bike but it’s the rate your arms are moving in a minute rather than your legs.  Below, the tempo trainer is set in mode 3 at a rate of 64 strokes per minute (SPM).  In this mode, the swimmer will hear a metronome-like beat of 64 SPM. This mode is great for helping swimmers work on symmetry in their stroke if they are working on removing a hitch or improving bilateral breathing timing and rhythm.  It is also useful for developing a faster stroke rate for chopping open water conditions.

Earlier this week my Tuesday night swim group did the workout below, written by my mentor and Swim Smooth founder Paul Newsome. It’s one of my favorites because it includes technique, endurance and CSS work nicely tucked into 3000m.

*The 2nd 500 Free using the tempo trainer was “CSS +3” pace.

Here is what that meant:

  • Each swimmer knows their CSS pace.  To learn what that is, go to the  CSS blog post here.
  • I take each swimmer’s CSS pace, add 3 seconds to it and then divide by 4 to get a 25m pace
  • Swimmers then set their tempo trainers in mode 1 to their specific pace for 25m and then swim this 500m trying to “stay on the beep” as they turn on the wall every 25m.  If they stay on the beep then they know they are swimming at their target pace.

Here’s the math:

  • Sample swimmer has 100m CSS pace of 1:57
  • CSS pace + 3 seconds is a 2:00 pace
  • Divided by 4 (to get 25m pace) is 30:00 per 25m.If you own a tempo trainer and are not sure how or when to use it, I hope this post is helpful.  If you want to join group swims and use your tempo trainer with coach guidance then Contact Us!
  • Swimmer then toggles to mode 1 on their tempo trainer and sets it to 30:00. They shove the beeper in their swim cap, hit the single button at the top to “reset” the clock and take off.  Then they swim at a pace so that they are hearing the beep each time they turn. If they hear a beep before they hit the wall, they are behind the pace. If they hear the beep after they turn on the wall, they are ahead of the pace. This feedback allows the swimmer to constantly modulate their pace.

If you own a tempo trainer and are not sure how or when to use it, I hope this post is helpful.  If you want to join group swims and use your tempo trainer with coach guidance then Contact Us!