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.

200 Free Prep and Fast Stroke

Brad Herndon, Greensboro Community YMCA

This set worked real well for some fast 200 free and 100 Stroke times this weekend, takes 44 minutes, 11 mins a round, they did this 2 weeks out and were right on their 200 FR and 100 stroke goal times:

3 x 175 FR @ 2:20 (hold goal 200 Fr time)
1 x 75 Stroke Fast @ 1:00
1 x 50 Stroke Fast @ 1:00
1 x 25 Stroke Fast @ 1:00
1 x 25 EZ @ 1:00 (start early after the 25 stroke fast)

Stroke = Swimmer chooses OR some did IMO by Round, but 4th Round = Fly-Back-Breast on the 75, then drop down by choice to finish with 25 of your best stroke (other than fr)

Fast Feet to the Wall

Mike Cook, Mason Makos

For senior prep 11-15 year olds. We notice a lack of effort with our flip turns. Knees in a ball and feet not accelerating over the top. We worked on Monday with them and put them through this set today. The whole time reminding them the focus feet over the top and accelerate into the wall.

The next 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.

Age Group Long Axis and Dolphin Kicking

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This practice was for our group of 10-12 year-olds. We focused on long-axis efficiency and finished with an emphasis on underwater kicking. The “bang bang” refers to a coach tapping a wrench in the side of the pool to indicate when to take a stroke.

Do you sometimes need an idea for practice? Would you like to receive a free email to help spark your creativity? Then sign up for my e-newsletter to get a dose of information, inspiration, and innovation delivered every once in a while.

Long Axis Day

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This practice was devoted entirely to long axis strokes – back and free.

The blue set in the middle was a technical progression. The 25 was scull, the 50 was 25 scull/25 kick and rotate, and keep adding a skill or drill up to 150. On the way back down to 25, subtract the skill/Drill from the front end to finish with a 25 Swim.

“People paddle” = free with underwater recovery, like advanced doggie paddle

The next issue of “the wake-up swim” is coming soon. Sign up here.

Age Group Speed with Coach Gordon Brown

Coach Gordon Brown, Head Age Group Coach, Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut

This is another one for my 10-13 year-old swimmers that go 6-days a week for 1-hour & 45-minutes. I included a description of what we talked about prior to each set.


CTAG 100119 workout for Swimming Wizard


Big focus on the first IM & UW FL kick set is replicating the feeling of a 200 IM with 25’s of race plan swims mixed with 25’s UW FL K. We talked about some of the key transitions in the IM before we began the set.

For example, we begin with a 25 UW simulating what they will do off their start and how they should focus on holding their rhythm in butterfly to finish the 50. When they get into backstroke, they need to establish their tempo and make sure they have a great wall leading into breaststroke. This is why we started with BK swim into UW kick. We talked about breaststroke being the make or break part of an IM. Having a strong build to the BR leg of the race really sets up a big finish in free. Starting with UW kick into BR sprint w/flutter kick allows them to really turn on the hand speed. Lastly, we finish with Free sprint establishing tempo right off the wall and finish with UW kick to ensure we have a great last wall. We did this all with fins.

They looked great and were putting down some good speed with the swims and improved their UW 25’s as the set went on.

We finished up the day with a Max VO2 set they will do about every 3 weeks. This was their first attempt at this set this season so they knew they were establishing their baseline times. Since we have a distance meet on Friday and a Long Axis Pentathlon on Saturday we wanted to focus on FR and BK. Everything in the set is all out effort and we mix in a kick distance that rotates by round. To keep it entertaining, I gave them some goal times that allowed them to earn “medals”. As the distance gets longer it is more difficult to earn Gold.

They really enjoyed the “medal” aspect of the set and were definitely going after it!

Underwaters & Speed Backstroke

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

In this set, we used orange hockey pucks on the bottom of the pool to mark the 10m mark we wanted them to kick past.

Make sure you have signed up for my once-in-a-while e-mail to keep up with the best and most interesting workouts and much, much more from the Swimming Wizard blog, delivered straight to your inbox every Tuesday morning.

Backstroke “GO!” Set

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This is a variation on the Nitro whistle set. We just did it backstroke, I shouted “GO!” as the intervals came up rather than blowing a whistle, and we added a few quality swims.

Swimmers begin with a 25 back @:20, then a 25 @:25 and so on, increasing to a 50 at the earliest opportunity, increasing to a 75 at the earliest opportunity… and so on. Their instructions were to make the jump in distance as soon as they felt it was feasible.

We paused after the :50, after the 1:30, and after the 2:00 to do the 50 ez – 100 fast backstroke-50 ez. We had some excellent performances on the 100s backstroke.

Do you coach swimming and love good quotes? Then you need this:

Back and Breast Together Set

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This set allowed us to keep the group together while some swimmers trained back and others trained breast. This was a small group at an early morning practice, so keeping the group together was helpful for keeping the energy up.

For the 50s, backstroke drills are in blue, breaststroke drills in green.

We went on the same intervals for both strokes — backstrokers did 150s and breaststrokers did 125s.