Tick, Tick, Tick, It's Stopwatches
Updated: Jun 29, 2022
Every coach has their favourite stopwatch. Some coaches spend hundreds of dollars for the most advanced settings or even the heavy-weighted feel of a good watch. I like simplicity, offering just what I need to time and pace multiple lanes of swimmers.
When I first started coaching, I was lucky enough to work closely with some of Australia's best coaches. I watched them time multiple lanes and guide multiple time cycles with millisecond accuracy. It was like watching a master conductor maintain Beethoven's metrical rhythm. I couldn't imagine how coaches juggle between lanes and track so many swimmers.
After years of coaching my go-to coaching stopwatch is the Finis 3 x 300m stopwatch.
“Don't watch the clock; do what it does. Keep Going.” Sam Levenson
Fifteen years later, there is little I enjoy more than timing an entire swim squad and keeping swimmers accountable to their pace (to speed up or slow down). The challenge clears my mind and gives me peace of mind all simmers are achieving their required physiological adaptation. Fluctuations in time throughout the set also provide great insight into each swimmer's adaptation and indications to changes in their stroke mechanics.
Find what you need
There is a wide range of stopwatches out there. Some are much more advanced than others. Advanced watches offer a wide range of features, from multi-split readings to the ability to download results after each session. There are a few things to remember when choosing your stopwatch; function, durability, and budget.
Simple watches only give you one split time after pressing the lap button and the final time after pressing the stop button. For swimming, a stopwatch that offers a few split times and counts the number of laps achieved is ideal. A watch with a recall button allows you to trace back previous splits. It is perfect for relaying times for swimmers or recording times after swimmers leave the wall for their next lap. The Finis 3 x 300m stopwatches offer a lap counter which helps count laps or work out the order of times when coaching multiple swimmers in a lane.
The Finis 3 x 300 stopwatch has four modes; elapsed time, lap time in progress, stroke frequency (stroke rate), and time/calendar. For coaching a single swimmer or multiple swimmers on the same time cycle, the elapsed time is best, offering the most accurate times and total running time for the set/ distance. When coaching multiple lanes, I find using the lap time in progress best for functionality. I ensure swimmers leave ten seconds apart, so I only press the lap button for a new effort (every 100m of 10 x 100m's), then call the running time after some quick and easy mental math. The disadvantage of this method is the time will not be accurate. I reset the clock occasionally to ensure the stopwatch matches the pool-deck lap timer swimmers read. This function is also handy for counting the number of efforts swum.
I label each of my stopwatches to make it easy to assign each watch to a lane or group on different time cycles.
Durability and Budget
I am clumsy. Most coaches are. The pool deck is not a soft place, and on occasion, these great stopwatches have left my hands and taken hold by gravity. For this reason, I tend to use stopwatches that are easily replaceable. I have seen many coaches in despair as they pack away their broken and expensive stopwatches.
As you can see by stopwatches, they have experienced the test of time. Despite this, the Finis 3 x 300m stopwatch lasts me 9 - 12 months. Each watch comes with a lithium battery which lasts well after the shell of the stopwatch has deteriorated. I use a small go pro box to keep my stopwatches safe between coaching sessions and store my pens and reference sheets.
The Finis 3 x 300m stopwatch is my favourite for its multifunction use and cost, assuming I purchase a new series of watches each year.