Everyone can read the pace clock with a little practice. If reading intervals intimidates you and prevents you from leading your lane, these tips should help. All age group swimmers need to master the skill of reading the pace clock.
If your coach says, "swim 8x25s on :30 seconds," you will simply push off of the wall every 30 seconds.
If you start "on the top" (or "on the 60") you will always leave when the red hand is on the 60 or the 30.
Similarly, if the coach says, "start on the 15" you will always leave on the 15 or 45. You are still leaving the wall every 30 seconds.
If your coach says, "swim 8x25s on :40 seconds," you will always leave every 40 seconds.
60, 40, or 20.
In order to stay on a :45 second interval, remember that you will always leave the wall every 45 seconds. If you begin "on the top" you will leave 45 seconds later, on the 45, then the 30, then the 15, and finally, back to the 60.
Let's say your coach calls out "6x50 on :50 seconds." First of all, remember when you leave the wall. When you first leave on the top, start counting by 10s backwards! You will leave the wall again on the 50, then the 40, the 30, the 20, the 10, and finally when the hand is back to the 60.
An interval of :55 seconds will be similar to the :50 second interval, but you count backwards by 5s. Therefore, if you leave the first time on the 60, the next time you leave the wall should be 55 seconds later on the 55. And then 50, 45, 40, 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5, and finally the 60.
If your coach says, "swim 8x50s on 1:00," you will always push off the wall when the clock reaches the same number you initially left on. That interval is the easiest!
What about 8x50s on 1:05? Again, the most important thing to remember is the number you pushed off on the last time you left the wall. If your interval is 1:05, and you leave on the top, the next time you leave will be on the 5, because that is one minute and 5 seconds after your initial push off. Keep counting by 5s and you will do great! (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60)
And on and on...
What about 1:10? Same drill, but count by 10s! (10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60)
OK-1:20? This is similar to the :40 second interval because you can remember the same numbers: 20, 40, 60 and they stay in order from least to greatest.
Don't hesitate to ask your teammates and coaches for help. Just make sure you are trying to figure it out on your own. Good luck!