Early Season Set That Worked Well (Part 1 of 2)

Brad Herndon
Head Coach
Greensboro Community YMCA


SET ONE:This set followed up on drills learned early in the week, and was designed for COMPLEX DRILL combos and OVER-EXAGGERATIONS:
·        8x (56 min, padded interval on last 100 free)
o   Part One (IMO by Round)
§  1 x 50 Drill @ 1:00
§  2 x 25’s Over-exaggerations @ :40
§  1 x 50 Swim @ 1:00
o   Part Two (All free)
§  100 Freestyle ¾ Catch-Up Drill (Power strokes/Body Alignment) @1:40
§  100 Freestyle FAST with GREAT TECHNIQUE @ 2:00
·        Drills during this set were the following:
o   Fly: 4 press/Underwater Recovery Combo
o   Back: Triple-Scoop (early catch only, 3x skull style, pause opposite hand at highest point perpendicular)
o   Breast: 4 press/1 cycle of breaststroke/plus 1 dolphin kick after cycle
o   Free: Sail Drill with 2 second pause each phase
·        Over-exaggerations:
o   Fly: TOO WIDE on hand entry
o   Back: TOO HIGH on recovery arm above water (shoulder blade lifted)
o   Breast: TOO LONG on stretch phase/i.e. low cycle count
o   Free: TOO MUCH BOIL KICK – over-kick so much so that it is awkward to move arms smoothly
Check back tomorrow for Part 2

Do the Funky Chicken

Susanna Grundstein
Assistant Coach
Stony Lane Swim Team
This particular drill was designed to encourage critical thinking regarding stroke technique. Word to the wise: it is designed to show swimmers why they don’t want to do certain things. Swimming this way doesn’t work. 
That’s the point.
 This drill, which I call “Funky Chicken,”  encourages children to think about the way they are swimming and what effect each motion has on their speed and efficiency. In this drill, errors are amplified, so even the simple mistake of swimming with open fingers or a closed fist makes a huge impact. 
 The goal: the ability to break apart your stroke and ask, “If the effects of this action were multiplied by 5, would the action be making me five times faster, or five times slower?”
Funky Chicken Teaching Tool
1) ATTEMPT 25 yards or meters of freestyle with thumbs locked in armpits. If you’re in a longcourse pool, at your discretion. THIS WILL BE DIFFICULT TO SWIM, SO BE PREPARED FOR IT. They often look quite comical. 
2) As the swimmers. to name specific pieces of the drill that made swimming that way so ineffective/hard. As they come up with reasons, point out what error equates that particular challenge. I’ve gone further into detail about this discussion below.
3) 25 yards regular freestyle to gauge which skills still need work, then branch into other drills once target areas acquired. I find following up with fingertip drag helpful. 
Discussion: 
At the other end, talk to the kids about why they think this drill was so hard to swim. Have them break it down. I’ve seen people come up with as many as 10 problems. For each problem they come up with, point out which error is equivalent to that problem. Here are a few of the answers people have come up with over the years, and an equivalent mistake. These are only some of the answers. There are more. I’ll do my best to give you the technical version, instead of the 9 year old friendly version, which can get pretty silly sometimes. 
a) Recovery practically requires contortion (recovery not easy) – Contortion swimming and arm-watchers. Shoulders don’t really do that. It hurts. Don’t try to watch your arm as you recover, and don’t stick it straight up in the air behind your shoulder either. It hurts. Finger tip drag a good follow up to this one. (generally only found in first year swimmers)
b) Hard to swim in a straight line– crossing your head during a stroke leads to wiggling. If you throw a ball like this (flop and round and finish throwing pointing at the floor) where does it go? Not where you want it to. Wherever you’re pointing is where the ball will go. Well, guess what? Wherever you’re pointing is where you’re going to go. And if you’re pointing one way on one stroke, and the other way on the next, it’s going to take you forever to get where you’re trying to go. 
c) Wiggling is TIRING– Yes. If you wiggle while you throw a ball, it doesn’t go far. The same thing applies to swimming. If you want to get any actual results from your actions, you’ll need to tighten your core muscles. 
d) Breathing was really difficult. Yes. Basically in order to breathe they have to breach like a whale. Equivalent to over enthusiastic rotary breathers and burrowers. Indirectly related to the fact that breathing forward partially closes your airway, so really, breathing forward barely counts as breathing. 
e) Every time I took a breath I stopped moving, and then had a really hard time getting started again. – Again, yes to both. Equivalent to breathing forward and/or treading breath. Lifting your head up stops forward motion, and it’s a lot easier to keep moving than it is to get started again. An object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an opposing force. On top of that, breathing forward allows a much smaller intake than rotary breathing, while still taking longer. 
f) only using half your arm– shortened stroke and/or windmilling. The shorter wingspan equates to, among other things, the decrease in power generated by strokes without full extension or when the back half of the stroke is chopped off. It also illustrates what happens when you don’t actually exert any pressure on the water during a stroke (i.e. windmilling) It’s not the number of strokes you take, it’s how much you get out of each one that matters. Long stroke strokes. Or, as I like to tell my kids, “You aren’t trying to get to the bottom of the pool, are you? Reach for your destination. That’s the wall, not the floor.” 
g) pushing with your elbow- nothing to push with – swimming with your hand in a fist or dropping either the wrist below fingertips  or elbow below wrist during the pull. In any of those situations the force generated is all concentrated on a single small point (the fist, the elbow of the heel of the hand). Instead of meeting with resistance, the single point of pressure pierces through it, so that nothing comes of the action taken. A flat surface is more effective at pushing than a single point, which will puncture.  In small children, the fist is the more likely error. In the middle age groups, the dropped elbow. In older children, the dropped wrist. Trying to swim with any of those is like forcing yourself to swim funky chicken…and why would anyone voluntarily swim funky chicken? 
h) hole in between upper arm and forearm- swimming with open fingers, The water goes right through the holes in between your fingers. You can’t eat soup with a fork. 
i) I kept sinking. –  This is a good one. Mostly it equates to burrowing, but it can be tailored to match the swimmer who says it. Because the kids are getting virtually no aid from their arms in this drill, their feet are doing all of the work. But because of the wiggling, it’s hard to keep kicking; they sink a little, then run into several other problems, particularly problems A & D (contortionists and breach-breathers). 
Basically any time you make one of the errors we just talked about, you’re forcing yourself to swim Funky Chicken. And why would anyone ever voluntarily swim funky chicken?
This drill works especially well for wigglers, contortion swimmers, and frantic windmillers.

Sunday’s Super Set

Ryan Woodruff
 
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400 25 free/25 no free  @ 5:20/5:40
12 x 100 no free descend 1-4 to best 100 + 10 seconds @ 1:25/1:30
6 x 50 kick @ :55
#1 – 25 fast/25 ez
#2 – 25 ez/25 fast
#3 – all fast

400 same
12 x 75 no free descend 1-4 to best 100 – 7 seconds @ 1:05/1:10
6 x 50 same

400 same
12 x 50 no free descend 1-4 to 1/2 of best 100 +2 seconds @ :45
6 x 50 same

400 same
12 x 25 no free RACE!!! @ :30
6 x 50 same

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Friday Butterfly Workout

Ryan Woodruff
ryan.d.woodruff@gmail.com

SCY
This was a solid set for our sectional-level butterflyers.  Not too tough, but some good early season fly work that didn’t make them get sloppy with the technique.  We did it in three 15-minute stations and rotated through in groups

PART 1
We started with some underwater kicking in a 20-yard pool:
16 x 60yds @ :55
Done as 5 rounds of
#1 – 25 smooth free/25 underwater dolphin kick/25 smooth free
#2 – 25 underwater dolphin kick/25 smooth free/25 underwater dolphin kick
#3 – all smooth swim
And then #16 – All underwater dolphin kick, take 1 breath at each wall

PART 2
16 x 50
#1 – Fly, 3 strokes R/3 strokes L drill @ 1:00
#2 – Fly kick on back @ 1:00
#3 – Breaststroke with fly kick @ 1:00
#4 – Fly swim @ :50

PART 3
3 rounds of:
1 x 25 fly easy drill @ :30
1 x 75 fly swim @ 1:05
1 x 25 fly drill @ :30
1 x 75 fly swim @ 1:00
1 x 25 fly drill @ :30
1 x 75 fly swim @ :55

Mucho Kicking For Distance

Ryan Woodruff
ryan.d.woodruff@gmail.com

The set below uses timed kicks for maximum distance. Mixing in some kick-heavy drill, this set lasts approximately one hour. In total, this is 35 minutes of kicking at high intensity. We gave our swimmers specific distances to shoot for during each timed kick, dividing them up into two teams. The numbers at the very bottom represent the running points total from the team competition.

Kick/Swim Set

Coach Erik Wiken
5X Through…
4 x 50 @ 1:00 #1 Stroke Kick, Descend 1-4, #4 is Sprint
1 x 100 @ 2:30 50 Kick Oriented Drill 50Sprint Swim
Rationale:
-The idea was to make the kick the primary focus of your swimming.
-Kick oriented drill was put after the 50s to focus on body position and kick technique in a taxed state and then have the kick be fresh in your mind and the focus in the fast swimming.
-Intervals vary depending on ability:
+50s were to get about 15 seconds on the 1st 50 and about 25 on the 4th for this particular group.
+Longer rest during the 100 to account for rest between rounds to make sure focus stays on kick, not just survival.
#1 Stroke Kick position had two options:
1. Streamline (Fly/Bk/BR @ Back, FR @ stomach with snorkel)
2. Kick in positions that also get an athlete to focus on the body.
Example:
Fly – Side Kick (bottom arm extended, no hula hands!)
BK – “Roller Coaster”
BR – Heel Check (arms down @ you back, heels to hands then big toes finish out of water)
FR – I prefer on stomach arms extended and hands at the beginning of the catch phase (kick in posture) or hands at sides, rotating. Rotating may make the interval tougher and may need to be adjusted depending on athlete.

Burning Both Ends of the Candle

First time I ran this, kids had never heard of the phrase before and didn’t understand why I would call this set that name. After 20 x 25s, they knew why…
 
1. Partner Up:
-You will need 1 Buoy & 1 Kickboard per tandem, both with center-mount snorkel (HIGHLY recommended)
2. 20 x 25 @ 1:00 (interval & # of repeats according to ability)
(want to make it longer?, suggest breaking @ 1/2 or 1/3s with a 50 easy on same interval)
One person does a 25 sprint scull (hands out in front of snorkel), head in line
 
The other person does a 25 sprint FR tombstone kick**, head in line
Rotate equipment after each 25
**Tombstone Kick: Stand board on end, grab a 1/2 way and stick bottom half in the water. Board stays vertical.  (We also do tombstone kick sets where the last repeat (usually 25s) we “bury it”, board is vertical and totally submerged.)

Masters Practice #3

Ryan Woodruff

SCY
This practice is meant to be adapted for three different ability levels.  The first interval or distance is meant to be for the advanced swimmer, the second for intermediate, etc.  (i.e. 500/400/300 @ 8:00/9:00/8:30 means advanced swimmers do 500 yards @ 8:00 and so on).

Warmup
500/400/300 smooth free swim

3 x 300 Kick/Drill/Swim by 100 @ 5:15/6:00/6:45

Pull Set
100 EZ @ 1:30/1:45/2:00
200  (100 EZ/100 Moderate) @ 3:00/3:30/4:00
300 (100 EZ/100 Moderate/100 Fast) @ 4:30/5:15/6:00
200  (100 EZ/100 Moderate) @ 3:00/3:30/4:00
100 EZ @ 1:30/1:45/2:00

3 x 300 IM or Stroke (50 drill/25 fast) @ 5:15/5:45/6:15

Warm Down
6 x 100 freestyle, Descend cycle count per 25 each 100 @ 1:40/1:55/2:15

Total yardage: 3800

Swim For Maximum Distance

Ryan Woodruff

This test set is useful when you have a large group of swimmers performing different strokes at different speeds in only a few lanes. Bang a lane wrench on the inside of the pool gutter to notify the swimmers when it is time to stop.

2:00 swim for maximum distance
300 ez drill breaststroke
4:10 swim for maximum distance (Goal: double your 2:00 distance)
300 ez drill backstroke
8:40 swim for maximum distance (Goal: double your 4:10 distance)
300 ez drill fly
1:00 swim for maximum distance (Goal: 1/2 of 2:00 distance +5m)
200 ez drill breaststroke
2:05 swim for maximum distance (Goal: 1/2 of 4:10 distance +10m)
200 ez drill backstroke
4:20 swim for maximum distance (Goal: 1/2 of 8:40 distance +15m)
200 ez drill fly

Yet Another Shreveport Set…

Dustin Myers, City of Shreveport Swim Team

LCM
 
3 rounds:
1 x 200  IM;  25 kick, 25 drill
4 x 100  fast;  round #1 = 50 fly 50 back, round #2 = 50 back 50 breast, round # 3 = 50 breast 50 free
 
2-3 min rest
 
3 rounds:
1 x 200  IM;  25 kick, 25 drill
1 x 200  worst stroke; 50 drill, 50 strong effort
1 x 200  IM;  all out from push
 
2-3 min rest
 
3 rounds:
1 x 200  IM;  25 kick, 25 drill
1 x 200  IM;  designated drills at aerobic pace
4 x 50  IM order; all out for an added up time better than your best time
 
 
 
The first 200 IM k/d of each round/set is meant for recovery.  On the second set I had kids coming within 9 seconds of their best 200 IM times (from a push too!).  On the third set I had kids who's add up 200 times were 2-4 seconds faster than their goal time for that season. 
 
When giving the practice only tell your swimmers one set at a time, that way they'll focus on each set individually.  So the 2-3 rest between sets is actually when you are explaining the next part.  At the end of the practice my kids admitted that if I had given them the entire set at the beginning they would have been a lot more cautious at the beginning.

July Fly


Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club
ncacheadcoach@gmail.com

This set accomplishes 3,350 meters of butterfly swimming while spacing out the freestyle recovery to allow swimmers to maintain their butterfly technique.

LCM
2 sets of 40 x 50m

1 @ 1:00 all fly
2 @ :55 first 35m fly, then free
3 @ :50 first 25m fly, then free
4 @ :45 first 15m sprint fly, then free
4 @ :55 all fly
3 @ :50 first 35m fly, then free
2 @ :45 first 25m fly, then free
1 @ :40 first 15m sprint fly, then free
10 @ :50 25 drill/25 build to perfect finish
10 @ 1:00 fly fastest possible average

Underwater Weight Kicks

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club
ncacheadcoach@gmail.com

Earlier this week, Louis Cavadini posted a set called Heavy 50s. At the end of the set, he described kicking underwater with weights. We performed a similar set this week, using bundled weight belts. We did the following set with fins:

SCY
400 smooth free, 25 drill/25 swim @ 5:20
8 x 75 descend 1-3 and hold #4 at P200 @ 1:20
4 x 25 underwater kick with fins and weight belt in a streamline @ 1:00
300 smooth free, 25 drill/25 swim @ 4:00
6 x 75 descend 1-2 and hold #3 at P200 @ 1:15
4 x 25 underwater kick with fins and weight belt in a streamline @ 1:00
200 smooth free, 25 drill/25 swim @ 2:40
4 x 75 descend 1-2 and hold #3 at P200 @ 1:10
4 x 25 underwater kick with fins and weight belt in a streamline @ 1:00
100 smooth free, 25 drill/25 swim @ 1:20
2 x 75 descend 1-2 and hold #3 at P200 @ 1:05
4 x 25 underwater kick with fins and weight belt in a streamline @ 1:00

On the underwater kicks, some swimmers performed them on their back and reported that the exercise really worked the backside kick. Use this sheet to Determine Your Goal Pace for LCM to perform the set.

Friday Fly Day in May

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club
coachryan@ncacswim.org

SCY
60 x 50
4x:
1 – Fly kick @ :50
1 – ez free swim @ :40
2 – Fly drill @ :45
1 – ez free swim @ :40
3 – Fly swim @ :40
1 – ez free swim @ :40
2 – Fly swim @ :35
1 – ez free swim @ :40
1 – Fly siwm @ :30

+ 4 Fly swim fastest possible average @ 1:00

Drill: Rotisserie Kick

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club
coachryan@ncacswim.org

This drill is to help with body awareness, core body control, and balance in the water. Rotisserie kick is simple: Get in a streamlined position, squeezing your head between your arms, and flutter kick face-down. When you need a breath, roll onto your back, keeping your streamline intact. When you have concluded your breath, roll in the same direction onto your front again. Repeat and continue as you need each breath. This is best done with fins.

Backstroke Throw Drill

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club
coachryan@ncacswim.org

Elite backstrokers make use of their propulsive movements and body rotation to generate incredible power throughout the stroke. I liken this motion to that of a kayaker. When paddling a kayak, the paddler places the oar in the water and pushes on the opposite hand to use the oar to generate leverage. So it is in backstroke.

Throw drill is essentially one fast stroke and one easy stroke, alternating. The emphasis is on the fast stroke. The swimmer uses the catch and middle part of the stroke as an anchor point and leverage into a high-velocity “throw” of the arm stroke on the opposite side. It ends up being a “limping” backstroke, but focusing on only alternating arm strokes allows for the athletes to really set up the throw motion well.

Tennis Ball Drill

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club
coachryan@ncacswim.org

To improve your feel for the water, hold a tennis ball in each hand while you swim or drill. Instead of feeling the water with your hand, use your forearms to catch water. This drill is particularly good for freestyle or butterfly, but can be used for back and breast as well. The effect is similar to anti-paddles, but in cheaper and more convenient form. After using the tennis balls for a few minutes, put them away and go back to swimming with an open hand. The shifting sensation can be instrumental in improving feel for the water.

Backstroke Race Pace and Drill

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club
coachryan@ncacswim.org

Here is a set designed for 200 backstrokers. Distances listed for even 25s, 50s, and 75s are for underwater kicking

12 x 25 backstroke @ :40
odd at P200
even kick, 5m+ on #2, 10m+ on #4, 15m- on #6
3 x 100 backstroke drill @ :10 rest

6 x 50 backstroke @ 1:00
odd at P200
even kick, 5m+ on #2, 10m+ on #4, 15m- on #6
3 x 100 backstroke drill @ :10 rest

4 x 75 backstroke @ 1:20
odd at P200
even kick, 10m+ on #2, 15m- on #4
3 x 100 backstroke drill @ :10 rest

Fly On the Wall

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club
coachryan@ncacswim.org

SCY Here’s a fantastic fly set that will get the swimmers going fast while preserving technique and motivation for the end. They will spend some time on the wall, however.
Use the Goal Pace Spreadsheet to determine P100 (100 race pace)times.

100 x 25 @ :30
For the first 96, do the following 8x:
#1-5 drill (#1 – 3R-3L-3cycles, #2 – w/br kick, #3 – w/flutter kick, #4 – clap drill, #5- triple kick drill)
#6 – Swim at P100
#7-9 Swim smooth at race cycle count
#10 – Fast swim at P100
#11 – easy kick on back
#12 – Fast swim at P100

#97 – 100 are all fast swim at P100

Configuring the 25s as I have listed above will allow the coach to stay at one end of the pool and time every race-pace 25.