Gotta Hit Those Walls

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This set was originally published here in 2016

So much of performing good turns in short course fly and breaststroke swims comes from spacing the cycles out correctly.  The key is that swimmers hit the wall at the conclusion of a full cycle, and not on a short stroke or a long glide.  This set is simple but demands exactly that.

6 x 25 Breast @ :35 — Hit the wall correctly at specified cycle count or it doesn’t count (take :20 extra rest and then continue

100 ez free

6 x 25 Breast @ :30 — same instructions as above

100 ez free

6 x 25 Breast @ :25 — same instructions above.

100 ez free

200 Breast  odd 25s at min cycle count, even 25s 15m speed drill, 10m long and smooth strokes

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“Almost Fast” Fly Set

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

The idea for this fly Set was to a good amount of “almost fast” fly on the 25s and then put together some good fast 100s. We incentivized the 100s and swam so well that we ended up doing only 1 each round (instead of 1,2,3). Some of the best fly we have done this early in the season!

The Swimming Wizard Blog is always looking for submissions. If your practice yesterday was a good one, tell us what you did:

Flying Pigs

Coach Doug Russell, Austin Trinity, Austin Texas

We got this base set for under-waters from the women’s program at the University of Arkansas several years ago and we use it often with variations. We call it Soo-E-Pig.

We almost always use it as a fin set. We train in a 25 meter pool. The basic set is 4 under – 1 recovery (we call it “over”) , 3 under – 1 recovery, 2 under – 1 over, 1 under – 1 over. We usually repeat it 4 times though. Today we went with a variation to work our butterfly and up tempo our Freestyle.


1 6 dolphins – 3 strokes Fly – if not at wall back under water and work finish.

2 5 dolphins – 4 strokes Fly – same

3 4 dolphins – 5 strokes Fly – also

4 3 dolphins – 6 strokes Fly – again

As they work through the set they drop a round in sequence.


Round 1 Soo-E-Pig > :40

Swim 6 x 50 Free > :40 (Descend 1 – 3, 4 Negative Split, 5 Build, 6 Faster than first three)

Round 2 Soo-E-Pig > :35

Swim 6 x 75 Free > 1:00 (Descend 1 – 3, 4 Ez-Ez-Fast, 5 Ez-Fast-Ez, 6 Fast-Ez-Ez)

Round 3 Soo-E-Pig > :30

Swim 6 x 100 Free > 1:20 (Descend 1 – 3, Descend 4 – 6)

Round 4 Soo-E-Pig > :25

Swim 1 x 200 Free > Goal Time for 200 Free LC minus 3 – 6) They have fins on!

Total 2650 meters SC

Editor’s note: This set was first posted to this blog in June 2014.

Short Axis Throwdown

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

3 x 100 @ 1:30 25 sprint fly/75 free B3
1 x 300 5 cycles fly/5 cycles breast @ 6:00
3 x 150 @ 2:10 50 sprint fly/100 free B3
1 x 200 5 cycles fly/5 cycles breast @ 4:00
3 x 200 @ 2:50 75 sprint fly/125 free B3
1 x 100 5 cycles fly/5 cycles breast @ 2:00

100 easy free

20 x 50 fly, breathing 1 up/1 down
Put cones or markers on bottom 10m from the finishing wall. No breathing after the cone. Try to keep time consistently strong on all 20.
4 @ 1:00
3 @ :55
2 @ :50
1 @ :45

Editor’s note: This set was originally published to the blog in July 2012

Butterfly Jeopardy

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We did this set as a fun twist on our tradition of doing a fly Set today. The secondary goal was to expand their knowledge of times (and encourage them to memorize theirs).

One swimmer picked a category and distance. I then asked them for the correct question (this is Jeopardy, remember) to go with my answer.

For instance, if a swimmer picked “Your best times (SCY)” for 200, I gave the answer “this is your best time in the SCY 200 IM. Swimmer would say “What is 2:01.26.” If he was within the range mentioned in the picture above, the group performed the 200 as 50 kick/100 drill/50 swim all fly. If he was incorrect, we did the 200 fly fast for time and a 100 ez free.

This picture below shows which swims we ended up doing fast (red X) and which we did as 1/4 kick, 1/2 drill, 1/4 swim. The swimmer who was the contestant selected the member of the group who went next.

There are of course tons of variations you could do on this theme. I printed up our best times, team records, and world records ahead of time, but I imagine this could also be fun to do with swimming trivia.

Flying Snakes!

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

I have posted here before how we sometimes use “Snakes” (swim one direction in each lane, sidewinding your way down the pool) as a means for training fly in narrow lanes. This set took it a step further with the final 25.

I timed each individual on the final 25. Their goal was to score points by achieving their individual race pace but also by kicking underwater to one of two orange hockey pucks placed on the bottom at about 8 and 12m off the Wall. This dual incentive led to some individual experimentation with more underwater kicks than they are normally comfortable with.


When swimmers finished the final 25 of each snake, they added the points to a tally counter on a nearby iPad. This helped us keep an accurate tally without me doing extra work. We ended up requiring 6 rounds to achieve our 300 point goal.

Broken Butterfly

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

This was one of our recent most popular fly sets among the swimmers.  We had 5 lanes and 22 swimmers, so the broken 200s happened in 4 lanes with half of the group while the 5 x 50 happened in the 5th lane (against the wall) with the other half.  We had only two or three swimmers in lane, allowing for good fly technique.

F.L.Y. = Fantastic Laps, Y’all!

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

We did this fly set recently (SCY).  The  different instructions for A, B, and C groups were determined based on swimmers’ ability to maintain the integrity of their stroke technique over time.

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Simple Fantastic Fly Workout

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that our Friday Fly workouts are some of my favorites to post.  This particular workout was one of our best fly sets ever.

We train in a SCM pool primarily.  The lanes are a bit narrow and we have about 20 swimmers in 5 lanes (really not bad from a space standpoint, but still hard to train fly with doing 1-arm strokes).  This set allowed us to swim fast repeatedly with out sacrificing stroke quality for safety.  We had 16 swimmers at practice, so I split the group into two squads of 8.  The first squad of 8 swimmers used 4 lanes (2 per lane going :05 apart so that swimmer 1 would still be kicking underwater when he or she passed swimmer 2) for a fly set and then moved into a single lane for the “recovery set.”  Then squad 2 would move into the 4 lanes and do their fly set.  Thus they alternated doing the fly set and the recovery set.

The groups were split not based on speed/distance orientation but more based on how well each swimmer holds his or her fly technique under fatigue.  Those whose technique tends to suffer under duress were in group 2.  Both groups were well challenged and nobody could complain about being in the “harder” group because both swam the same total distance butterfly.

We had some excellent performances, particularly on the 75s and 100s at the end.

Free and Stroke Set for SCM

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

We performed this set in a SCM pool, same as for most of the sets I post during the September-May time period. In this one, the time expectation of beating our best 500 SCY time during each 400 was key to the success of the set.

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Free and Stroke Set for SCM.

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