I.M. Mystery Sandwich

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


This set is a spin on a classic IM set. We build up from 50 to 150 like we are getting ready for a 200 IM. Instead of a 200, the IM swim in the middle of the set is a mystery distance ranging between 100 and 1000m, to be announced just before it is swum.

We did 3 rounds as shown. The mystery distance ms we did were 300, 400, and 100m. The 100 was done FAST for time.

Descending and Dropping Intervals

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


This freestyle set presents the challenge of descending within a set and dropping the interval. The four different columns of intervals represent different lanes within our group (this practice is in a 25m pool). We used the red sets of 50s in between as a buffer to allow us to regroup for each subsequent set. JMI = Just Make It.

Disappearing 100s

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


Some days I write the entire practice out for our group to see before we begin. Other days, I like to give it to them step by step or in parts. I firmly believe there is an enormous mental difference between these two methods of presentation, and each has its pros and cons.

This set was presented to the swimmers in parts. The first part was written on the board with the instructions to hold a consistent pace at each step and that we would be doing a total of four rounds, erasing one line from the set with each subsequent round and possibly changing the instructions. (JMI = Just Make It)

Round went well, so we upped the ante significantly for round 2:

Part 2 was a significant increase in challenge, leaving them wondering/guessing what part 3 would bring. Well, here it is. Not what they might have expected, but they could pretty well guess what Part 4 would be once they saw Part 3. And they stepped up with some great swims! OTB = Off the blocks (dive). FPA = Fastest Possible Average

Context: We are at the beginning of our third week of training and thus far we have done very little high intensity work for any significant distance. The swimmers who performed the set on the intervals listed have best 100-yard free times ranging from :43.8 to :47.3. We had a few other athletes with slightly slower best times performing the same set on intervals that were :05 slower for Part 1 and Part 2.

We ended up with many lifetime-best practice times and a challenging practice with a motivated group.

The 9-Descend Challenge

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


This set was a good challenge for our group in the second week of practice. For backstrokers, this set was all backstroke. For IMer/Fly types, they went 50fly/50back and could choose either stroke to do for the drill.

The main idea is to have the discipline and sense of pace to successfully drop time on the 100s nine times in a row. By the end of the set, those who were diligent were cooking pretty good. Intervals were set to be moderately challenging so that swimmers could slack off completely on the first one or two 100s. 1:20/1:30/1:40 represent A/B/C intervals for three different levels of swimmers.

Animal 50s

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We did this set in a pool with maximum depth of 4.5 feet. That allows for some challenging blastoffs (push vertically off the bottom in a streamline) and some good vertical turns (push off the bottom into a flip turn that happens mostly OUT of the water). We ended up doing them on 1:30 in a 25m pool.

Bit of Everything

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


We needed an all-purpose practice with a little bit of everything. This set was done in a 50m pool. (Olympic course).

3 rounds:

1 x 400 Free @ 5:20 Paddles & snorkel, steady pace but sprint 2 strokes into every turn

2 x 200 IM @ 3:10 Descend 1-2

3 x 100 No Free

Rd 1 – Descend 1-3 @ 2:00

Rd 2 – 50 fast/50ez @ 2:30

Rd 3 – FPA (Fastest Possible Average) @ 3:00

IM Sprint Day

Shawn Anderson, Swim Streamline at Northampton

The IM’s work on sprinting at Race Pace (RP) while the 50 Free drill forces us to focus on head and hand placement when tired.

TAO Drill (Tarzan, Alligator, Olympian) – This is a freestyle drill dividing the 25 yards (1 pool length) into thirds.

  • 1st – Third: Head is up looking straight ahead, hands entering the water at 11 and 1 o’clock
  • 2nd- Third: Head looking straight ahead, nose underwater, the eyes above water, hands entering the water at 11 and 1 o’clock
  • 3rd – Third: Head is down, hands entering the water at 11 and 1 o’clock

The set is done 3x times through, decreasing the 100s by 25 each and 10s off the interval each round. If you need more rest lengthen the 50-EZ interval as we want the swimmer performing the TAO drill when tired to force focus on head and hand placement/control.

Round 1
1×100 Fly RP @ 1:10/1:20/1:30
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:00/1:10

2×100 Back RP @ 1:10/1:20/1:30
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:00/1:10

3×100 Breast RP @ 1:10/1:20/1:30
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:00/1:10

4×100 Free RP @ 1:10/1:20/1:30
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:00/1:10

Round 2
(50 have more time to permit walk back to blocks)
1×75 Fly RP @ 1:00/1:10/1:20
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:10/1:20

2×75 Back RP @ 1:00/1:10/1:20
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:10/1:20

3×75 Breast RP @ 1:00/1:10/1:20
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:10/1:20

4×75 Free RP @ 1:00/1:10/1:20
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:10/1:20

Round 3
1×50 Fly RP @ 50/60/1:10
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:00/1:10

2×50 Back RP @ 50/60/1:10
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:00/1:10

3×50 Breast RP @ 50/60/1:10
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:00/1:10

4×50 Free RP @ 50/60/1:10
50-EZ (25xTAO Drill/25 Swim) @ 1:00/1:10

To make the set more challenging you can:

  • Flip the count on yardage by starting with 50 and work towards 100s
  • Flip the order of the quantity, start with 4×100 Fly and count to 1×100 Free
  • Add another set going down to 25’s


This set can be done with age group kids by starting with 75’s and counting down to 25’s and adjusting the time to fit the group.

Split Distance and Sprint

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We have days where the whole group does one workout. Other times, we split by strokes. On this day, we split along distance lines. Part of the group worked around their distance race pace, while the other group did a small number of intense 50s from a dive. The sprinters also watched their 50s back on video and did some active recovery during the 6:00 interval. This workout was in LCM.

LCM Sprint Stations

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This was the second time we set up a series of sprint stations in our long course pool utilizing a 10m diving well and the regular lanes. We got some great times overall.

We rotated through the stations 3x. The buckets we use are like parachutes, but are just 1-gallon buckets from Home Depot.

The run & dive “50s” in the diving we are really just 20m (10m across the diving well and return), so they got lots of rest there.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Butterfly Cycle Up and Cycle Down

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

LCM. The aim of this set was for us to train good-quality butterfly while accommodating the wide range of fly speeds in our top two groups. We used the :10 rest to allow swimmers to go at their own pace, and the changing instructions in terms of cycle count promoted mental engagement. Having some freestyle in each 50 also allowed them to recover their technique for the next 50 and avoided “butterstruggle.” Total fly cycles: 440.

IM Challenge Set

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We did this set the other day with a few of our 13-14 year-olds in SCY. It proved to be a motivating and challenging set.

In each 8:00 part, the goal was to do as many repeats of the given distance and stroke as possible. We recorded the total distance covered, which allowed us to calculate average pace and set goals for possible future sets.