Tracking your Laps

edited May 23 in General Discussion
I'm having trouble with this quite a bit since I made the change from competitive (coached) swimming to triathlon style training, where I basically swim long distances without someone else taking a lap tally for me. I usually forget where I am after 400m (I swim up to 5km).

Does anyone have a trick for this?

Comments

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited May 23
    The Swimovate PMB Unisex Adult Pool Mate Computer Sports Watch lap counting watch, should have been on the Recommended Products page. I have put probably over 4 million metres on mine by now over the last few years and apart from changing the battery myself every year, it's fine.

    image

    - Buy on: Amazon US | Amazon UK
  • SuirThingSuirThing Member
    edited May 23
    I got a Garmin Swim for Christmas, very efficient at the job too ....

    image

    - Buy on Amazon US | Amazon UK
    I tried to convince myself, but, orange flavour electrolyte, mixed with hot chocolate,
    tastes nothing like Terry's Chocolate Orange ....
  • danswimsdanswims Member
    edited May 23
    For a tighter budget these will do also, if you can remember to push the button each lap. Fewer fancy features but gets the job done.
    image

    - Buy on Amazon US | Amazon UK
  • jheynesjheynes Member
    edited May 23
    The new Garmin Fenix 2 is awesome. Bit expensive but well worth the investment.

    image

    - Buy on Amazon US | Amazon UK
  • FrancoFranco Member
    I have never had a problem with this but if you wear a watch it really isn't that hard. I usually check my watch every 400 meters to make sure my lap count is correct. I am a slower swimmer and I know that I am holding a pace on longer swims of about 7:00 +/- on my 400 meters. Even if I lose count, I can figure it out when I hit the next 400. It is just simple multiplication whatever your pace is.

    400 meters works well because it gives me a chance to see how I am doing on my mile pace . 1/4 fractions are the easiest to work with for me and I am able to get a good feel on whether I am holding the pace I am trying to keep. When I am swimming a 5K, I will switch to my 500 pace to keep the fractions easy.

    The fancy toys are nice but most people I know who use them become dependent on them and some seem to break after a short time. I usually get several years out of a $40-50 Timex Ironman.

    I have heard good reports about the Garmin products but unless you are going to take advantage of all of the functions, they seem a bit pricey for counting laps. I hardly use any of the functions on my Ironman. I like it though because it has large numbers that are easily readable coming out of my turns.

    Perhaps my lap counting and multiplication skills are much better than my swimming skills.
  • motivate99motivate99 Member
    edited May 23
    Franco said:

    The fancy toys are nice but most people I know who use them become dependent on them and some seem to break after a short time. I usually get several years out of a $40-50 Timex Ironman.

    I tried using a lap counter watch a few years back, much more of a hassle than a help...so I trained my brain and changed a couple of things to make pool tracking easier:

    - Alternate breathing each length - down right, back left, down left, back right - helps me track the count

    - Structured sets - generally warm up with a 3000 yard set that goes something like:

  • Sorry, hit the return button!

    - 500 Free / 250 Kick / 250 Free
    - 500 Back / 250 Kick / 250 Back
    - 500 Pull / 250 Kick / 250 Pull

    Then the rest of the workout with similar structures:
    - 5 x 300 - free, Back, Pull, Back, Free

    It makes it easier to track

    All of which is just a prelude to nthe real deal - swimming from here to there, and sometimes back again, and again...in the open water...

    Off to Cape Cod today, to try some of that great stuff!

    In summary...screw the watches, the MP3s, etc. Train your brain and deal with the pain!
    Stay wet, everyone!
  • edited May 23
    If you can keep track up to 400, then break your count into those multiples. (although 12 400s is a bit unwieldy).

    I was advised (here) to use letters and then try to use the letter as often as possible while swimming. So you could (say your in SCM) go A1- A16, B1-B16 up to L1-L16. Or Aardvark, About, Accord, Adrenalin, Aeon Flux, After, Again, Ahhhh, Aim, Ajax, AKC puppies, Almond Joy, Am, Annoying, "A O Let's go!", Apply, Band, BBKing, BC, BdBeedeebede (Flash Gordon), Bejesus, BFront, BGosh....

    What I find helps me is alternating between open and flip turns, and counting a lap as being up and back, so off the wall up flip 1 back, flip 1, up open 2, back, open 2...

    I swim 80 lap sets (20M Pool) and I break it into sets of 10 (which is 20 laps) Then all I have to remember is which set of ten I'm on.

    Beyond this, because I do still lose count. I'm ALMOST to the point where I don't really care. My mother always used to say, "You're only fooling yourself!" (my swim coach said the same thing). I try to count, and I usually give my self the doubt of the benefit (I'll opt for the lower number) and if I swam more than the mile, good for me. I'm in the ballpark according to the stopwatch I look at when I hit the wall after 40 (80) ish.

    Counting laps is sort of what we did to make sure we did the absolute least we could for the coach. I'm not doing this for (or against) the coach anymore. I'm not training to swim laps, laps are what I must do to train to swim miles. A few extra hundreds of meters in a nice flat pool is nothing compared to swimming up and down and across waves trying their best to drown my rear end. (That's the way I'm starting to look at it anyway.)

    I also found that saying to myself before I start, "You're leaving on :27!" It helps me focus on the next mile's count if I thought I was going to finish at :23 and I wound up finishing at :25 because I might have miscounted.
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member

    The fancy toys are nice but most people I know who use them become dependent on them and some seem to break after a short time. I usually get several years out of a $40-50 Timex Ironman.

    Did my first 20km pool swim with a timex. Hit the split button every 500 (7:30) and stopped every 2000 to start over at 30 minutes. Especially long course, this is super easy, if a pace clock isn't handy. And if the pool has a pace clock, I'm all set and don't even bother trying to count. I have a harder time counting a set of 10 x 200s than I do of just swimming 2000 straight. I'm terrible at math, but even I can do pace clock math in my head. Also, reciting multiples of three (200s on 3:00) keeps me very entertained: 200=3:00, 400=6:00, 600=9:00, etc. I can count from 0-100 by 3s in under 50 meters. And when that gets old, count by threes, starting at 1. And now I'm off topic. Pace clocks rule!
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited May 24
    ssthomas said:

    I'm terrible at math, but even I can do pace clock math in my head. Also, reciting multiples of three (200s on 3:00) keeps me very entertained: 200=3:00, 400=6:00, 600=9:00, etc. I can count from 0-100 by 3s in under 50 meters. And when that gets old, count by threes, starting at 1. And now I'm off topic. Pace clocks rule!

    Totally agree - the best lap-counting device is the pace clock. I love my gadgets in everyday life; I even splurged on a Fenix2, but I use it primarily for hiking & escorting/navigating other swimmers, not for my own swimming.

    I've tried almost all the lap-counting watches out there. The FINIS Swimsense is my favorite on the basis of its features, but is poorly constructed like all FINIS electronics and susceptible to water infiltration.

    In the end, nothing beats the pace clock. Key is being able to swim a consistent enough pace that you know the pace clock approximately represents laps completed. Like @ssthomas, I use round distances mapped onto round intervals. Reps of 1000m on 15min interval are a personal favorite, especially if you start the set on the hour -- very easy to keep count in that instance.
  • The Swimovate PMB Unisex Adult Pool Mate Computer Sports Watch lap counting watch, should have been on the Recommended Products page. I have put probably over 4 million metres on mine by now over the last few years and apart from changing the battery myself every year, it's fine.

    image

    - Buy on: Amazon US | Amazon UK

    Well I ended up buying a PoolMate. I'll see how she runs. I'm in Canada so I bought it from http://www.swimovatecanada.ca/
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
  • evmo said:

    ssthomas said:

    I'm terrible at math, but even I can do pace clock math in my head. Also, reciting multiples of three (200s on 3:00) keeps me very entertained: 200=3:00, 400=6:00, 600=9:00, etc. I can count from 0-100 by 3s in under 50 meters. And when that gets old, count by threes, starting at 1. And now I'm off topic. Pace clocks rule!

    Totally agree - the best lap-counting device is the pace clock. I love my gadgets in everyday life; I even splurged on a Fenix2, but I use it primarily for hiking & escorting/navigating other swimmers, not for my own swimming.

    I've tried almost all the lap-counting watches out there. The FINIS Swimsense is my favorite on the basis of its features, but is poorly constructed like all FINIS electronics and susceptible to water infiltration.

    In the end, nothing beats the pace clock. Key is being able to swim a consistent enough pace that you know the pace clock approximately represents laps completed. Like @ssthomas, I use round distances mapped onto round intervals. Reps of 1000m on 15min interval are a personal favorite, especially if you start the set on the hour -- very easy to keep count in that instance.
    I just swim my workout and add the yardage up at the end. If I lose count on a longer swim, I'll give myself "credit" ands stay with the longer distance (1000 vs 950). If I screw up again, I'll downward depart and give the edge to the swim. It all evens out in the end. Missing a couple of laps here and there won't kill you.

    Like Evan said; the clock is the best way to count. Leave the gadgets at home.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited May 26

    In the end, nothing beats the pace clock.

    TwoThree reasons I personally disagree:

    1: Odd length pool. Much as I hate to even think about it let alone discuss it, @SuirThing and I mostly swim in the local 20m pool. So 100m is 5 lengths. When you are doing multiple 100s, I can guarantee you will lose track. The pace clock does work much better in a standard 25m, because you always finish the same end. In a 20m you will forget which end you finished at last, so you will lose track of your pace also.
    2: Counting on Animal set days. For the April's Fools 10+k swims, which I continued once a week to beginning of June, I swim in a 25m. I was increasing set and total distance every week (on the last week I was doing 2000m repeats). I wrote down my set times to see what the drop off was and it sufficiently deviated that without my swimovate, relying purely on the pace clock could have left me 2 lengths short as my pace varied as the set progressed. And because of variable speed attenuation, on a 16k set of 8x2k, the slowest were the 5th & 8th so not incrementally predictable. I don't have my times handy, but the variation over 2k was sufficient to be off by two lengths.
    3: Type of pace clock. Those which have second AND minute hands are far more useful for tracking laps on longs sets than those which are second only. Both pools in which I swim , only have a pace clock with a second hand.

    If you aren't obsessive about counting lengths (like I am), then two lengths won't matter of course. And if my 1k repeat time fit nicely inside 15 mins, that also would be helpful. But it doesn't. :-(

    Edit: It's another strokes for folks thing, like your choice of grease or goggles. If you don't need a lap counter, good for you. That doesn't make it the only way.
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member

    Much as I hate to even think about it let alone discuss it, @SuirThing and I mostly swim in the local 20m pool. So 100m is 5 lengths.

    OMG. That's my worst nightmare. I'd need a counter for that, too! I'd also need my head re-examined because I'd be super dizzy from all the flip turns.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin

    1: Odd length pool. Much as I hate to even think about it let alone discuss it, @SuirThing and I mostly swim in the local 20m pool. So 100m is 5 lengths.

    Ouch. I think I too would become a lone swimmer in that case! You must have some massively developed quads & hammies from all those turns.

    You've probably already considered & dismissed these ideas, but off the top of my head, this is what I'd do:
    - Put a second synced pace clock at the opposite end.
    - 120m reps instead of 100m. Nothing magic about 100s (also the pace equivalence is off because of the extra turn).
    - Or just avoid 100s and use 200 (10 lengths) as the base distance.

    2: Counting on Animal set days.
    ... on the last week I was doing 2000m repeats. without my swimovate, relying purely on the pace clock could have left me 2 lengths short as my pace varied as the set progressed.

    In my experience, swim watches often miss 2 lengths out of 2000m anyway, so it's a wash. I'm guessing you've tested the swimovate's accuracy, what did you find?

    On super-long repeats (> 40 lengths) I pick my head up briefly every so often to confirm my lap count against the pace clock. This avoids the deteriorating pace issue you mentioned.

    But generally I avoid super-long repeats anyway. Almost always, I would consider a set of 4x500 on a tight interval to be more useful than a single 2000m swim. (my personal opinion)
  • @ssthomas, no, your nightmare is having to train in a 15m pool! Or not having a pool! If I thought about it, it would be a problem. Years ago I decided I would not let it be a problem so I just accept it. Though I do have to admit that my knees are increasingly sore or even painful for the first kilometre before they warmup.
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    @loneswimmer: I suppose I was exaggerating a little. My worst nightmare would to be told I could never swim again. If it was never swimming again or being in a super hot 20m pool, I know what I would choose!
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited May 26

    You must have some massively developed quads & hammies from all those turns

    . Well the future Mrs LoneSwimmer can probably comment on my arse size better than I, but it does feel sometimes like I never stopped cycling. :-)

    Put a second synced pace clock at the opposite end

    @evmo, this is so far removed from the reality of a small town 20m overheated public pool run by non-professionals, with only two serious swimmers in all the years I've been there (me 'n @SuirThing), where the management committee once said there was no place in the pool for us, that I lol'ed. The one lap clock we have wasn't even put in by the pool, but by the age group club (smallest in the country). I think you'll find a simple lap watch is a more ... proportionate response! :-)

    Nothing magic about 100s.

    Yes there is. They add and multiply easily for a tired lone swimmer! Yes, I do 120s, but not a lot. Everytime I'm in a 25m pool it's almost a joy.

    I'm guessing you've tested the Swimovate's accuracy, what did you find?

    ?The only inaccuracy I've seen is if I mess up on a turn & don't give the accelerometer time to increment the lap register. It's 100% accurate on lap counting otherwise.

    2ks are extremely rare. I was progressing each weekly animal set through increasingly longer sets to try to measure speed drop as a consequence of time and distance. (In a 25m pool). 200s, 400s & 1k are my preferred pool distance sets. None "require" the lap watch as essential, as my intervals won't vary that much but I'm used to using it for totals.

    Recently though I've been wondering about speed drop off. Previously on animal sets, i would have always a mixed set. On shorter sets you will hold a better interval...and swim faster. But I've been wondering about getting a better estimate of sustained and sustainable speed over time. By doing increasing distances on one day each succeeding week, I wanted to see if I could get a better idea of speed attenuation over over a 3 to 4 hour period, without racing against the pace clock. So what was my cruising speed drop over 3 hours of 200s or 400s versus over 1600 or 2000s? Not sure I have a reliable answer yet.
  • KellieKellie Member
    These posts astonish me. I didn't even know they made 20m pools or pools measured in yards. I can't believe how lucky I've been to live in a country where there's basically a 50m public pool in every town without even knowing it wasn't like this everywhere. I will definitely complain less about my local pool now.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    In SF, the Olympic Club has a 33 1/3 yard pool.

    10x266.67s on 4:33... Ready, go!

    image
  • edited May 27
    Did i read somewhere that Stephen Redmond has to train in an 18m pool? Now that makes for some complicated sets....

    Also, I agree, the pace clock is the only way. I do allow myself the luxury of a cheap casio though for counting minutes. Which is also handy when the pace clock decides to run backwards, which keeps the brain ticking over too.
  • SuirThingSuirThing Member

    Did i read somewhere that Stephen Redmond has to train in an 18m pool? Now that makes for some complicated sets....

    I thought it was 16m ....

    I tried to convince myself, but, orange flavour electrolyte, mixed with hot chocolate,
    tastes nothing like Terry's Chocolate Orange ....
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    @Kellie, I trained for my first 10K and Swim the Suck in a 15m pool. Actually, it was 50 feet 4 inches per length (I measured it), so I called three laps "100 yards" just to make it easy.

    I got really good at flip-turns. ;)
  • KellieKellie Member
    There's a guy I know from the public lanes at my pool who cannot bear to swim sets that don't add up to some multiple of 500. He doesn't even like it when the rest of us in the lane do it. I think if I tell him about all these pools it's going to blow his mind. My hat is off to all of you.

    @IronMike how did you keep count?
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    @Kellie, tried the swimovate for a while, but it would miss laps. Same with the Swimsense. They're not really good in short pools.

    After trial and error, I realized I'm not too bad at keeping count. Each time I got distracted (Am I on lap 34 or 33?), I'd always go for the lower number. I called any extra laps I happened to do "penance laps." I assume I did many, but I also assume I sometimes missed some, so figured it all equaled out in the end.

    For long sets, I'd use my watch. I'd set it to beep when I should hit the wall (every length, in other words), knowing that in 30 minutes I could do 1600/1700 in that half hour. I tracked the half-hour with the pace clock, so when I was done I'd look at how many times the watch beeped. As long as it was 95 beeps (6 per 100 minus 1 when I started), I knew I did 1600.

    When I didn't really care, just wanted to do a long swim (2-3.5 hours), I would just swim in 30 minutes segments, taking 10-15 seconds to drink something before starting the next 30 min section.

    I got used to it, and even returned last month and swam in it again. But I get so excited when I can swim in a LCM pool.
  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member
    edited May 27
    I solved this problem years ago. Before every practice I write down in my log how many yards/meters I am going to do. I get in and start swimming. When I feel like it I just get out. No need to do anything more than that. I've already recorded my yardage.
  • TheoTheo Member
    Where I grew up the only indoor pool we had for training until I was junior in high school was a 20 yard pool. Worse was it went from 1.5 ft deep to 4 ft and was primarily set up for teaching children (kept the water at 85 at least). Keeping track of sets and times was a nightmare. So anything now seems like a cake walk. Then the summers we would move to an outdoor 50 meter pool quite the transition.

    We use the pace clock for keeping track of distance and we try to set up intervals that help keep the counting easiter. We also now have the great luxury of two larger digital clocks so keeping track of the 15 minutes is easier.
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Member
    edited May 28
    evmo said:

    In SF, the Olympic Club has a 33 1/3 yard pool.

    10x266.67s on 4:33... Ready, go!

    How narrow are those lanes?

    After my college freshman year at Tulane University I stayed in New Orleans to train for the summer (and find a new school to go to since Tulane dropped swimming 5 weeks before school started up again). Afternoon workout was in your standard 25 yard pool. AM was a different story.

    We trained at Audubon Pool, which was about 75 meters long and 50 meters wide. There was a long wall that split the pool in half and ran length-wise. In the middle was a huge fountain pushing a ton of water and you along with it. No lane lines and a gravel bottom. Also a bunch of ants, which would get together, form an "ant raft", and drop the hammer on your back or neck. It was very hard to find a rhythm while doing crazy repeats on intervals that didn't make sense. I'm not sure that it evens exists anymore.

  • timsroottimsroot Member
    http://www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/audubon-park/favorites/nord-pool-audubon

    Is that it?

    In Baton Rouge, the Huey Long Pool is no longer in service, but Huey wanted it to be the longest pool in the country, at least at the time. 60 yards. Apparently two bulkheads.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited May 28

    How narrow are those lanes?

    Narrow. Still an awesome place to swim though. It feels either like really long short course, or really short long course... depending on your mood.

    We trained at Audubon Pool, which was about 75 meters long and 50 meters wide. There was a long wall that split the pool in half and ran length-wise. In the middle was a huge fountain pushing a ton of water and you along with it. No lane lines and a gravel bottom. Also a bunch of ants, which would get together, form an "ant raft", and drop the hammer on your back or neck. It was very hard to find a rhythm while doing crazy repeats on intervals that didn't make sense. I'm not sure that it evens exists anymore.

    Behold:

    image
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    edited May 28

    In the middle was a huge fountain pushing a ton of water and you along with it.

    I personally love pools with water features that push you along. Just add a water aerobics class and you're all set. Helps me to pretend I'm in open water.
  • timsroot said:

    http://www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/audubon-park/favorites/nord-pool-audubon

    Is that it?

    In Baton Rouge, the Huey Long Pool is no longer in service, but Huey wanted it to be the longest pool in the country, at least at the time. 60 yards. Apparently two bulkheads.

    I think the Audubon pool was a Long project as well. I tried looking for it online for the exact measurement, but I got the same pool you did. I'm guessing that it was filled in a while back. I was only there for the summer of 1989.
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Member
    edited May 28
    evmo said:

    Behold:

    That's the one! I hated training in that SOB.

    It wasn't that nice in 1989. Good score on the research.
  • evmo said:


    In my experience, swim watches often miss 2 lengths out of 2000m anyway, so it's a wash. I'm guessing you've tested the swimovate's accuracy, what did you find?

    I've used the swimovate original, garmin 910, and garmin fenix 2 **

    The thing they actually do quite well for me is track a steady, non-stop, freestyle swim.

    Sets with rests in them or fast sets of 25s, not as well. The swimovate can't handle sprint 25s of breaststroke. But a straight steady swim it is dead on and those are the types of workouts / sets I use them for.


    ** Yes I admit I have a problem.
  • athleteathlete Member
    edited June 3
    I LOVE my Garmin Fenix 2 also.
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