The Best Things I Read, Watched, and Listened to in 2018

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

2018 was a fun and busy year here at the Swimming Wizard blog.  I posted a workout almost every day, started a weekly e-mail “the wake-up swim” that now has over 500 subscribers, and published my first e-book, “The Quotable Swimming Coach.”  I am thankful for those who have followed along, and appreciate the positive feedback I have received.

Here are my favorites from my year of reading, watching, listening, and learning.  My aim is to become a better coach and human being, and it’s fun to look back on what I have learned to share it with you.  A few of the links below are affiliate links.  This means that if you wish to support my efforts to bring you new ideas, sets, and workouts every day, buying the books that I am recommending will kick a small bit of change my way without any extra cost to you.

If you like this list you may also be interested in my lists from 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, and 2012

Enough bluster — onward to the list!!!


conscious coachingConscious Coaching: The Art of Building Buy-In by Brett Bartholomew

Coach Bartholomew is a strength and conditioning coach, but I loved reading his thoughts on how to “move” people.  We can have all the knowledge about technique and training in the world, but we must understand the people we are coaching and how to individually reach them.  This book dramatically improved my understanding of the psychology of coaching, particularly as it relates to the dramatic differences between individuals.  This book has without a doubt made me a better coach. You can also follow Coach Bartholomew’s insights on twitter and listen to his “Art of Coaching” podcast.

The-Champion-s-MindThe Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow

Never have I read a book that was so densely packed with usable tips and inspiring stories as The Champion’s Mind. If you want to help your swimmers be stronger mentally and help them get the most out of themselves, read this book.  I read it to our top group this fall, and the discussions that it inspired were awesome.  This book is nothing short of brilliant and I plan to revisit some of its key concepts with our group this spring.

endureEndure; Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson

What if we can all go farther, go faster, and push harder that we thought possible? Hutchinson’s book is an extraordinary work exploring these questions and telling stories from the frontiers of human experience.  The title connotes distance, but I found Hutchinson’s work thought-provoking even for sprint training in swimming.  At the minimum, this book will help redefine in your mind the parameters of what is possible. I also enjoyed this podcast with the author.


You Have No Competition and Great Things Take Time by Nick Maggiull, Of Dollars and Data Blog

Podcasts and Videos:

I enjoyed the Rich Roll Podcast (also mentioned in previous years), particularly the interesting conversation with Australian legend Michael Klim and the epic, inspiring story of shark-attack survivor Paul de Gelder.


The documentary Free Solo about Alex Honnold’s death-defying  3,000′ vertical climb up El Capitan has been wowing audiences this fall.  Honnold’s TED talk about his feat was an interesting peek into his psyche and preparation for the climb:






To finish, I would like to share an excerpt from the book, “Rocket Men,” the story of the astronauts on Apollo 8, the first manned craft to orbit the moon and return to Earth.  NASA accomplished this incredible feat 50 years ago this month.  Author Robert Kurson’s account of the astronauts’ view of “Earth-rise” is very moving, particularly given the challenges we face and the events of 2018.


Here’s to a happy 2019, everyone!


Our 10 Most Popular Guest Workouts of 2017

This year, we have posted over 330 workouts, sets, and ideas to this blog.  We are so thankful for the many coaches who send in their ideas. Here are our 10 most popular guest posts this year.  Contribute a workout and maybe you will appear on this list next year!

1. Middle Distance Push/Tolerance Set with Coach Brad Herndon

2. VO2 Max Set with Coach Mathieu Leroy

3. Zig-Zag Ironman with Coach Ken Thorley

4. Empty the Gas Tank Set with Coach Todd Kramer

5. Technique and Efficiency Workout with Coach Mathieu Leroy

6. Wild and Wacky Kick Set with Dan Mascolo

7. Intense Focus on Streamlines with Coach Rob Bond

8. Texas 25s with Coach Darian Townsend

9. Thanksgiving with Coach Tony Carroll of the Lakeside Seahawks

10. Another Good One with Coach Brad Herndon

For another “Best of” in 2017, check out our Top Reads from 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, and 2012

Our Most Popular Post of Each Month This Year

We have posted a new workout, set, or idea here every day this year.  Here is the most popular post from every month so far.

January: Middle Distance IM Set from Nittany Lion Coach Ryan Sprang

February: Boom Boom 75s

March: Aerobic Power and IM Transitions with Coach Mathieu Leroy

April: Sprint/Power Workout with Coach Josh Udermann

May: 200 Free Mania

June: One of the best ideas I ever had

12 13 Books Every Swim Coach Should Read

Our 3 Most Popular Workouts of the Week

1. Boom Boom 75s
2. UGA 25s
3. The Shoulberg 500

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Top 10 Swimming Wizard Posts of 2015

Ryan Woodruff

It has been a great year here at the Swimming Wizard blog.  We have had record readership (close to 400,000 visitors this year) and have enjoyed reading and posting ideas and workouts from coaches all around the world.  Below is a selection of our top posts of the year.

Send us your set at and maybe it will make next year’s top 10!

Have a Happy New Year!

  1. The Everything Set. This challenging set includes free, descend, some “wet-land,” and packs a punch at the finish.
  2. How to Train Consistently at Race Pace was our most popular post of the year.  Get our popular pace cards and a better philosophy of my race pace philosophy.
  3. Age Group IM Set from Coach Josh Sinclair, Queensland, Australia.  Coach Sinclair also gave us a good Kick Set.
  4. Lucky Sevens appears to be a favorite with coaches even if not with swimmers.
  5. Kick Set for Underwater Dominance.  These days, you are either dominating underwater or getting dominated.
  6. 400 IM Splitting with Greater Philadelphia Coach Matt Sprang.  Good thoughts from an excellent coach.
  7. FRIM=FUN. Keep the fun in IM by taking out the fly.
  8. Stopwatch Roulette. Fun idea to help your swimmers “have a say.”
  9. F.A.T. Tuesday with Glenbrook Aquatics is cooler than it sounds.
  10. Kicking Speed Set.  Does what it says.

Bonus: 11 Creative Ways to Spice Up Your Swim Practice and my top 10 Best Things I Read, Watched, and Listened to this Year.