IM Warmup

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

In the past, we have often done a “standard warmup” 90+% of all practices. We have a good routine and it has served us well.

As we come back from the pandemic, I am no longer doing standard warmup (for now).We have shorter practices and I don’t want us to fall into any routine — I want to keep everyone on their toes. Here was our warmup preparing for today’s IM set.

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Video Station and Back or Breast

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

SCY. This morning we set up our underwater camera to get a closer look at our dolphin kicking and how we can improve it. Swimmers at that station kicked a 25, watched their video, panned the camera for their next teammate, and then got back in line to kick.

The second station got some short rest quality swimming with good technique.

Kick set to finish off the session.

Back in the Water!

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

Our team got back in the water yesterday for the first time since March 13. We are limited on time and space, but at least we are swimming. Here is our first practice, 55 minutes in length in a SCY pool, focused on freestyle body position and stroke length.

600 warmup free with open turns and 4 dolphin kicks off each wall

6 x 75 25 flutter kick on R side/25 on L/25 catchup @:10 rest

4 x 3:00 Fartlek @3:30

#1 – 20 flutter kicks on your side and then take 1 stroke

#2 – 16 kicks and same

#3 – 12 kicks and same

#4 – 8 kicks and same

6 x 200 @:20 rest

Odds 25 free min cycle count / 25 back

Evens free descend to 80% effort

100 ez warm down

IM’ers Delight

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

SCY. Every good IMer needs to be a breaststroker. This set worked a little of both. We started from the shallow end of our SCY pool, so the 200 breast included 20 eggbeater kicks in a vertical streamlined position in the middle of each 50 where we would have deep water.

This set was first published to this blog in May 2020.

Sprint Challenge Set for Meters

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This set can be done in a SCM or LCM pool. All 35, 65, and 95s are done from a start and timed to the head crossing the line.

Athletes are instructed to go all out on the 35. The goal for the 65 equals 2 x 35m time. The goal for the 95 equals the 35m time + the 65m time.


35m sprint, 100 ez @4:00

65m sprint, 100 ez @4:00

95m sprint, 100 ez @5:00

We did the set 4x through to allow our IMers to go 1x each stroke.


This set was originally published to this blog in May 2018.

Blackjack with NRG

Raymond Keown, NRG Swimming, Leavittown, PA

Blackjack Drill:
-100/125/150s (or appropriate distance for ability) on a moderate to tight interval (make it harder over time).
-Swim 21 cycles then streamline kick the remaining distance.
-If you make the distance 3x in 21 cycles or less= BLACKJACK- your done with the set.

This encourages kids to lengthen their strokes so that they kick less and get more rest at the end of the repeat.  The tight interval keeps them from exaggerating their stroke too much and maintain some moderate tempo.

*we do allow the kids to “cheat” by doing more underwater dolphins off the walls (kills two birds with on stone).

Once someone gets Blackjack, they move up in distance x25.

This set was originally published to this blog in April 2017

4 Lanes, 4 Speeds, 1 Freestyle Set

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This SCY set allowed us to keep the group together on the same 5:00 interval. Each group/lane swam different distances (as indicated at the bottom of the dry-erase board) based on their ability.

We started each new round together. Swimmers were instructed to descend (swim faster) across the three swims even if/when the distance might stay the same.

This set originally appeared on this blog in May 2018.

Kicking Test Set for all Abilities

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This kick set worked well with the wide range of kicking speeds in our group. Swimmers aim for the fastest total 400 time (25+50+75+100+75+50+25=400), always doing a 50 easy on a :50 interval. 6 easy 50s means there is a total of 5:00 “active recovery” in the total set. Coach can start the watch and just subtract 5:00 from the total time at the end of the second 25. We had swimmers pick one kick (stroke) for the first round and then they can change for the 2nd round.

This set was originally published to this blog in April 2018

Kick Set for Varying Abilities

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This kick set was able to provide a good challenge for everyone in our group, regardless of their kicking ability. Intervals were the same across the group for the 25s until the last round. Swimmers chose their longer distance based on kicking ability.

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The Set That Only Went O.K.

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

I had our distance group try this set earlier this season. The idea was for them to do 6 swims of indeterminate length on a 9:00 interval. Swimmers could decide their distance using the guide written below. The instructions were to either go farther or go faster from swim #1-3 and again #4-6.

The set ended up just being O.K. The swimmers gave it a good effort, but I didn’t give them enough rest to really do a good job going faster/farther. Next time I would do it differently in one of two ways:

1. Tell them that they need to get at least :40 rest (i.e. be done before the 8:20 mark), or…

2. Swim for a certain amount of time (like 8:00) and have them increase the distance swum 1-3 and 4-6. This would allow them to swim a distance that isn’t a multiple of 25 (stopping mid-pool when coach yells stop at the 8:00 mark) and they could then return to the wall to start the next repeat.

We’ll be better next time!


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Bucket Power!

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

SCM. Pick a stroke and stick with it for a round. Count cycles on the 3 x 25, strive to maintain that cycle count through the 2×50 and 1x 75. After the 10×25, go faster on the way down than on the way up.

Another issue of “the wake-up swim” is coming soon. Check out the archives here to see what you’ve missed or you can sign up here.

Swim and Dryland Hybrid Set

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

SCM. We have the luxury of having a decent amount of deck space and a brushed concrete deck that allows us to safely combine dryland and swimming into hybrid sets like this one. The swimming parts are free and descend BY ROUND 1-3 and 4-6. An “in & out” starts in the water , then climb out and jump back in.

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How You Could (In Theory) Keep Swimming in Your Backyard for Under $160

Olympic Open Water Champion Sharon van Rouwendaal yesterday posted a video of herself training in a small backyard inflatable pool.

Here what  you need to get Rouwendaal’s set-up for a total of less than $160.00

(full disclosure: I have not tried any of these products, but I am strongly considering it)

#1 – Intek 10-foot x 30-inch pool (~1,000 gallons, same pool that Rouwendaal used) – $74.99


#2 – Milliard Floating Chlorine Dispenser – $16.99

pool 3

#3 – BioGuard SilkGuard Complete 1 Inch Chlorinating Tablets (4.5 lb) – $30.99

pool 2

#4 – Strechcordz Safety Cord Short Belt (only 4 feet long, you may need rope to tie off to a tree or other stationary object) $35.60

pool 1

TOTAL COST: $158.57 + Shipping

Pound that IM and Free

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

SCM. This set worked well for us, meaning we got some excellent efforts and good times at the end of the set.

The instructions matched the intervals – the IM swims descend to an all-out 400 IM. The freestyles start off with a very strong 400 free and ascend to a smooth 100.

Make sure you are following the Swimming Wizard on Instagram and Twitter for hundreds more ideas, sets, and swim workouts from coaches all over the world.

Fly Harder

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We performed this fly set with 22 athletes in 5 narrow lanes (lanes 2-6 in a 6-lane pool). We did the 5 x 25 “snake style” (Swim a 25 in lane 2, move to lane 3, Swim the 2nd 25 in lane 3, move to lane 4, etc). Doing the 25s this way allowed us to practice breathing low to the surface of the water and avoid taking 1-arm sloppy strokes. The 10 squats in between rounds provided a little extra stimulus that made the 25s more challenging too.

Make sure you are following the Swimming Wizard on Instagram and Twitter for hundreds more ideas, sets, and swim workouts from coaches all over the world.