Pace clocks are an essential piece of equipment in the training environment for a competitive swimmer.

Pace clocks are the instrument or tool which coaches use to regulate and manage the entire program as they are the mechanism which is used to create order in the delivery of the session. Without pace clocks it would be virtually impossible to conduct an effective workout with a large group.

“Pace clocks are to a swimming coach what sheep dogs are to a farmer.”

The farmer can control a large, number of sheep with just one dog and likewise a swimming coach can control a large number of swimmers with just one pace clock.

For the coach, the effectiveness of the pace clock depends on a number of things:

  • The positioning of the clocks in relation to the pool. The clocks need to be positioned adjacent to the ends of the pool. This position is ideal because the swimmers can easily see the clock when they look across the pool. Swimmers should be pushing off on their side so it is best place to locate the clock in this position.
  • Sometimes clocks are placed at the end of the pool which is most unsatisfactory as the swimmers are often much lower than the bulkhead. The blocks obstruct the view, there may be many gear bags on the bulkhead and coaches and other people are all at the end of the pool obstructing the view.
  • Clocks must run true to time not fast and not slow.
  • If there is more than one clock they must be synchronized.
  • Regularly service the clocks so they don’t breakdown.
  • The hands of the clock and the face must be in good condition and well painted in contrasting colours which are clear for the swimmers to identify.
  • Permanently mounted clocks must be placed in a position which is high enough to avoid obstruction of the swimmer’s view.
  • It is the coach’s responsibility to teach the swimmers how to use the pace clock which includes how and when to push off on time.
  • It is the swimmer’s responsibility to keep track of the cycle that they are on and push off on time.

Pace clocks are a wonderful training aid but they can cause havoc if they are not set up and maintained adequately.