We started our season the last week of august but unfortunately for us, our main pool has been closed for 8 weeks for some major building maintenance. Because of this my squad can only swim 4 times weekly + 3x1h land training sessions during this period.
So when the half term holidays are coming, I took the decision to not ask my swimmers to swim twice daily as we usually do during half-term: that’s why there are “only” 8 sessions.
A favorite way to end practice: The Guessing Game. Turn off the pace clocks and swim 100s at any pace based on feel. The group is one team, with the goal to get out of practice as soon as possible with a few fun incentive possibilities. Yes, we still had practice the next day.
We started off with a little swimming golf (add your time and cycles, bring the total lower) just to check in with efficiency before we really got going. Blue 50s at 200 race pace with fast 75s sandwiched in the middle. We got an excellent effort on the 75s kick, and that sometimes caused the 50s at pace to be a little off. After the 3rd sandwich, the 4 x 75s kick at the bottom were a surprise (they were not written on the set originally) and a challenge. Opening up the interval a bit and challenging them to rise to the occasion worked like magic.
Golf= add time (in seconds) + cycles (per 50). Bring this score down. OTB = off the blocks, fast. All choice, but do the Golf and OTB the same stroke for each part. Context: we are less than 48 hours after our first SCY meet of the season, where we swam a very full order of events in short sessions. We had a medium-difficulty practice yesterday. We were on fire with this today.
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.
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.
SCY. Today’s set combined two concepts. We used Golf (time in seconds + cycles per 50, descend the total 1-3) and Eddie Reese’s Texas 25s set. The result was some fast, efficient swimming. “That was harder than I expected!” said several swimmers with a smile.
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.
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.
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.
SCM. On the “fast” freestyle 150, I wanted the swimmers to push themselves but with a sharper focus on the technical aspects we have been working on than usual. “Don’t just give it a good physical effort, give it a good mental effort.”
We did this set using a few 50m lanes and a 12m diving well. The diving well has a chain link fence about 12 feet from the dive of the pool that is perfect for anchoring stretch cords. For the buckets/Sox station, we used hockey pucks on the bottom to indicate the distances.