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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Former ODU Monarch Swimmer Creates Updated Pace Clock

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Former Old Dominion University swimmer Nate Tschohl isn't one of those one-week-every-four-years type of swimming fans.

For the past week, Tschohl has been like many Americans, focused on the exploits of Katie Ledecky, Michael Phelps and the other Team USA superstar swimmers. But for the Virginia Beach native, swimming is a year-round obsession.

And the 32-year-old former Monarch swimming captain and assistant coach believes he has found a way to bring an indispensable swimming aid - the pace clock - into the 21st century.

At a time when NASA helps make swimsuits more aerodynamic and athletes are constantly tweaking their swim technique to save fractions of seconds, the digital pace clock on pool decks remains the same.

"In swimming, we use clocks to pace ourselves," Tschohl said. "When you look at the pace clock, though, it hasn't changed at all since the 1970s. You turn it on, and it simply counts seconds upwards."

So Tschohl, through his Virginia Beach-based company, Swimnerd, has attempted to modernize swim practice. His new pace clock not only counts up or down, but also provides coaches the ability to program practice sets by entering the number of laps and the time they must be swum - or intervals.

"Interval training is at the heart of swimming practice, yet the clocks we use force us to do the math in our head," Tschohl said.

The Swimnerd pace clock is Bluetooth-enabled, so it can be linked to portable devices through a mobile app. And most important, Tschohl's American-made clock is about a third the price of traditional swimming pace clocks.

Unsurprisingly, when Tschohl launched his product last Thursday - timed for maximum attention because of the Olympic swimming events - he received 14 orders in the first day.

"The response has been incredible. We've identified a problem, and we've created a solution," he said.

The product has been endorsed by the International Swim Coaches Association.

"Swimnerd is advancing and contributing to the growth of the sport by innovating swimming's most important training tool: the pace clock. We look forward to a longtime relationship built on interdependence," said president Doug Fonder.

Now that the Olympic swim meet is complete and local swimming seasons are coming to a close, Tschohl plans to contact coaches of every competitive team. "I've told people about our clock, and they'll immediately say, 'We're going to order two.' It's really exciting." he said.

Tschohl graduated from Old Dominion in 2006, after swimming for four years for the Monarchs. He came back and coached for an additional four years for ODU before entering the business world.

For more information, see the company website.

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