Patrick Miley, a helicopter pilot and amateur swim coach, developed a prototypical swim rate monitoring device that he named the Aquapacer in the mid-1990s.
One of the fixed principles of swim training is that to improve swimming speed, the swimmer must increase either stroke length or stroke rate while maintaining the other at its current level. Stroke rate improvement engages a number of possible training techniques, including methods of reinforcing fixed stroke rates through training. In a long workout, it is sometimes a difficult proposition for the swimmer to maintain a desired stroke if the athlete is fatigued or otherwise loses focus. The Aquapacer technology represented a breakthrough in training stroke maintenance.
By 2000 Miley had developed a comprehensive training aid by which a coach could program a central control mechanism to convey signals to swimmers as they trained, using a receiver the swimmer attaches to a swim cap or goggles. The receiver then signals the stroke rate to the swimmer. The rate can be varied during the workout to permit the swimmer to engage in tempo training.
The Aquapacer's usefulness as a swimming training aid was cemented at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where 30% of the gold medal winners in swimming used the Aquapacer in training.
The Aquapacer is regarded as an excellent motivational tool for swim training because, much like an electronic metronome in music, the swimmer is required to keep pace. Although developed with elite level athletes in mind, the Aquapacer market has expanded to include Masters age swimmers and recreational swimmers who wish assistance in maintaining a consistent stroke pace as they complete their workouts.
In its latest version, the Aquapacer is manufactured as a multiple receiver unit, where a number of receivers can be programmed for the use of different swimmers at the same time. The Aquapacer is also available as a single unit that is programmed and attached to the swimmer's goggles or cap. In addition to its use as a stroke rate training aid, the Aquapacer can be employed to assist in assessing the fitness level of a particular athlete or the speed with which an athlete may be recovering from an injury.