Freestyle and Underwater Kicking

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


Instructions on the 400s were to keep it steady and make the interval by :10+. Intervals for 200s are a bit faster with instructions to push the pace. 25s are to maintain an underwater focus under fatigue. A,B,C intervals for 400s and 200s. For the 25s, A group does 8, B group does 6, C group does 4, allowing us to stay pretty close together on the set.

Freestyle T-30 Substitute

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


At the beginning of my career (20+ years ago), I would have my team do a T-30 test multiple times per season. Since that time, I have gradually moved away from long steady paced swims such as that. The set below is the kind of thing I am more likely to do now. Each of the timed sets is “As Many Rounds As Possible” (AMRAP) with a set distance and rest to repeat. The amount of rest scales down with the distances, which allows for a pretty direct comparison of pace as the times decrease. We recorded each swimmer’s distances (to the nearest meter) on a dry erase board for all to see. As the time was cut in half, swimmers were urged to exceed 1/2 of their previous distance on the next swim. The 5:00 swims in between allowed for recovery and emphasis on technical reminders. Overall, it was a successful set with high levels of effort and engagement!


Ryan Woodruff,  Lynchburg YMCA

I’ve posted before about The Guessing Game and The Guessing Game for Sprinters.

Tonight we tried the guessing game with a new twist: Elimination.

We had 12 swimmers in the pool near the end of practice.  Everyone swam a 100 free (any speed) and immediately had to guess their times.  Top 3 swimmers who guessed closest to their actual time got to climb out and go home. Everyone else swam again and repeated the process. Incredibly, in order to be in the top 3 in the first round, a swimmer had to guess within 0.8 seconds.  Similar results happened in subsequent rounds as the group sharpened their skills. One swimmer managed to finish 4th in both the first and second rounds.

The final three swimmers had the task of cleaning up the deck (equipment, etc.) before leaving.

Overall, it was a fun (and agonizing for some) way to finish practice.

150s Madness

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


The format is similar to my most recent other post, with a more aerobic focus. The intervals stay the same for each part, with the quantities at each interval shifting slightly. The effect is a set that gets steadily a bit harder, with the peak intensity coming in the final 4 x 150 at the end. FPA = Fastest Possible Average.

Check Your Catch – Freestyle

Coach Molly Hebzynski, University of Northern Colorado

We’ve done set variations of this set, but the one below is my favorite, and our swimmers too! We focus on maintaining a good body line and maximizing every catch without breathing. LB = Low buoy, NB = No Breath, the strap is a band around the ankles. On the 25s, our ultimate goal is to see how fast they can move across the pool in a 25 with no out-of-water arm recovery to check their catch efficiency.



2×150 @ 2:30 50 Strap/50 Reg/50 LB (The switch at the walls is intended to be quick)

6×25 @ 1:00 NB Long Dog (Long Dog is the UW catch & pull)

R1: + LB 

R2: + Strap 

2×25 @ :45 Free NB @ 20 BB (20 Beats below Max HR)

1×100 @ 2:00 Reset/Recovery

The Best Practice We Have Had This Year

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

I know we aren’t very far into the year, but this one was REALLY good.


Swimmers partnered up. The 25s and 50s were fast off the blocks for time. Half of our group swam while the other half videoed them using their phones (“peer coaching”). Swimmers gave each other feedback. I was impressed with the quality of the feedback and the amount of teaching/learning that was happening. And we swam fast too!

Swimmer A would do all three of the 25s before swimmer B did the 25s. This allows for shorter time between performance, feedback, and repetition. Coach feedback was used to supplement and guide swimmer-provided feedback.