Tempo Trainer / Beeper

I strongly encourage swimmers to add a tempo beeper to their equipment bag. Here is a quick look at this nifty, valuable device:

training beeperTempo Trainer Pro - This small electronic-pacing device slides under your cap or attachs to your goggle strap to become your personal swimming metronome. You set a specific beep tempo to match your stroke to, and then bone conduction transmits the beep tones to your inner ear. Once you get good at syncing your strokes to the beep you can adjust the beeper to faster or slower tempos (in 1/100th second increments) depending on the type of work you are doing. A second mode allows you to set it to give you triple-beeps for each lap or repeat (adjustable in 1-second increments from from 10 seconds to 10 minutes). This is perfect for learning how to evenly pace longer swims. The Tempo Trainer Pro by Finis Inc is the most commonly used tempo beeper for swimming.

Check out this instructive product demo video from my friend Glenn Mills and GoSwim.tv:

The most valuable aspect of using a training beeper is when you couple its use with stroke count awareness. The idea is not just to swim your strokes at a faster tempo but to swim specific stroke counts at faster tempos. Since the Tempo Trainer allows 1/100th second increments for stroke tempos you can work any stroke count toward faster tempos in small enough steps you won't even be aware of the difference. By using such baby steps to steadily increase the tempos of each of your different stroke counts, you'll get progressively faster while you learn a lot more about your swimming than you could without the beeper.

It's not a bad idea to spend some dry-land time practicing switching your beeper between modes:

  • If you are in Mode 1 (static : colon) and you push and hold the right button to scroll up through the time settings from 0.20 of a second up to 9.99 seconds and then keep going, you then enter Mode 2 (flashing : colon), which allows for time settings at one-second intervals from 10 seconds up to 9:59 minutes. When the TT is in Mode 2, it gives a triple BEEP BEEP BEEP rather than the single BEEPs in Mode 1. Mode 2 is great for timing full lengths of the pool rather than strokes.
  • If you are in Mode 2 (flashing : colon) and you push and hold the left button to scroll down through the time settings to :10 seconds and then keep going, you then enter Mode 1 (static : colon), which allows for time settings at 1/100th-second intervals from 9.99 seconds down to .20 seconds. When the TT is in Mode 1 it gives single BEEPs that are great for syncing your strokes to.

Now go get you one them beeper thangs, y'hear!

Note: you may still find the original Tempo Trainer available - perfectly round in shape, it is not nearly as good as the Pro version. You want the TT Pro. It floats, which comes in real handy when it gets away from you in the water (and it will). Tthe battery is replaceable, which comes in handy when it dies (and it will). It is sturdier, which comes in handy when it gets away from you on deck (and it will). For just a few dollars more, the Pro version is a much better deal all around. Did I say, "get the Pro"? Get the Pro.

And be sure to check out the A Stroke In Time article series by Coach Emmett Hines.

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