Set for a Big Combined Group

Todd Kramer
Assistant Coach
Columbia Swim Club

Here is a workout we did last week that ended up being fairly successful. This season, on Fridays we have to swim our Senior 2, 3, and 4 groups together due to limited pool hours. Swimmers range from 13 years old to 18, and in ability from just below Sectionals to OT qualifiers.

Our main set was this:
10×100 kick @ :10 rest. We gave each swimmer their total time for all 10x100s, they needed to subtract 90 seconds for the rest plus however far back in the lane the went. Kick must be the same for the entire set. 
1×500 kick – Goal was to beat their time for the 10x100s(with the math) divided by two
200 ez swim
10×100 free @ :10 rest – Same deal as above
1×500 free – Beat the time from the 10x100s(with the math) divided by two. 

I wasn’t sure how successful we would be on this set, but the overwhelming majority beat their goal time on the kick by a few seconds and those that missed were within five seconds or so. On the swim we were a little bit less successful, a little less than half beat their time, but again those that missed were within about five seconds or so. As a whole we were very happy with the efforts. We felt that the overwhelming majority of the swimmers did not take the easy way out and give less than their best on the 100s, so they set the bar high on their 500s. Overall it was a great practice and a good way to involve swimmers of different ability levels training together at the same time. 

Sprint Free Tournament

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

For the last 15 minutes of our practice, we only have 2 lanes for the 20 swimmers in our National group.  Today we had a fun “Sprint Free Tournament” in that time. Every swimmer must know his or her best 50 free time to the tenth of a second. Here’s how it works:

1. Coach selects a swimmer (or youngest can go first). This swimmer chooses a teammate to race in a 50 free.
2. The race is handicapped, meaning that if swimmer A’s best time is 24.0 and swimmer B’s best time is 25.2, swimmer A must swim a time at least 1.2 seconds faster than swimmer B to “win” the race.
3. The head to head race commences.  The winner advances to the next round. The loser is out.
4. Repeats steps 1 – 4 until all swimmers have competed once.  Continue until only 1 swimmer remains as the champ. Be sure to keep an eye on each competitor getting amounts of rest between swims to keep it fair.

Works best with 8, 16, or 32 swimmers, but can be done with any number. Enjoy!

Freestyle Pre-Set with Deep Practice

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

We used this as a little pre-set before a longer freestyle set.  It really helped many of our swimmers get in a “good technique groove.”

“Deep Practice” is a concept we use to denote whole-stroke swimming while maintaining a very specific focus on an aspect of the stroke.  The list at the bottom was our brainstormed list of freestyle deep practice possibilities.

First Set of a New Season

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

We started a new season today with some freestyle work emphasizing underwater kicking, technique and a little bit of speed (think reverse periodization).  Here is the set:

12 x 100 free @:20 rest with streamline sticks @ 6m off wall
#1 – done with open turns and clean breakouts, kicking out past the sticks
#2 – done with flip turns and clean breakouts, kicking out past the sticks
#3 – done with fast flip turns, fast dolphin kicks, and 1 sprint cycle after kicking out past the sticks

12 x 75 free with snorkel @ :15 rest with hockey pucks on bottom @ 6m off wall as breakout target
1st 25 scull “Y” position
2nd 25 reach and catch scull (high elbows)
3rd 25 one-arm free

12 x 50 free @ 1:00
odd minimum cycle count
even descend 2-4-6 and 8-10-12

12 x 25 free @ coach’s pace
odd RACE! off the blocks
even max uw distance dolphin kick and then swim ez

The Pacer

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

12 x 100 Free
3 tight descend to P1500 @1:20
1 ez @ 1:40
3 tight descend to P800 @1:30
1 ez @ 1:40
3 tight descend to P400 @ 1:40
1 ez @ 1:40

300 scull/swim by 25

9 x 100
2 at P1500 @1:20
1 ez @ 1:40
2 at P800 @1:30
1 ez @ 1:40
2 at P400 @1:40
1 ez @ 1:40

300 same as above

6 x 100 all @1:40
2 at P1500
2 at P800
2 at P400

300 same warm down

How many can you do?

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA


We used this set to challenge our swimmers ability to repeat/hold a swimming pace. It made for a excellent set yesterday.

Warmup & 3k aerobic free followed by

? x 100 Free, make as many as you can without stopping

1st time you miss an interval: Take 1 x 100 off, then continue
2nd time you miss an interval: Take 1 x 100 off, then put fins on and continue
3rd time you miss an interval: Climb out and begin dryland (5 pushups @ :30, 10 squats @ :30, repeat)

Our intervals for each of 5 different lanes (and ranges of ability) in the group:
1:04, 1:07, 1:10, 1:12, 1:15

Two Kinds of Pain

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

I needed some swimmers to do distance freestyle pace.  Others to do some fast stroke work.  22 swimmers in 5 lanes with 1 coach… how to manage?  Parallel sets that allowed me to go back and forth timing the two groups.

A photo posted by SwimmingWizard (@swimmingwizard) on Jan 4, 2017 at 5:29pm PST


How to swim the 200 free

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

This was an effort to help some of our swimmers “figure out” the 200 free.  We followed up with a set specifically designed to practice for this event.  That set will come in a later post.

View this post on Instagram

How to swim the 200 free

A post shared by SwimmingWizard (@swimmingwizard) on

Ascending/Descending 75s

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

We did this set recently and for whatever reason we got some surprisingly good results.  I was even encouraging swimmers to slow down as they ascended the odds, and they put up some impressive times by the end.

The up arrow means to ascend the time on the odds (start fast, finish slower) and the down arrow means descend the evens (start slow, finish fast).

Mid-D Free and Kick Set with Coach Jeb Beaver of Monocacy Aquatic Club

Jeb Beaver
Monocacy Aquatic Club

Mid Distance

10 x 100
1)       25 kick fast 75 swim mod 1:40
2)       50 kick fast 50 swim
3)       75 kick fast 25 swim
4)       100 kick fast
5)       75 kick fast 25 swim
6)       50 kick fast 50 swim
7)       25 kick fast 75 swim
8)       100 swim easy
9)       100 @ 500 pace
10)   100 kick all out
200 easy

500 Free Set UP!

100, 200 , 300 , 400 = make the interval with enough rest to hit pace times
Non milers Guys 31 or faster for mile Girls 34 or faster

100 @ 1:20 or 1:30
4 x 50 @mile pace 40
200 @ 2:20 or 2:30
4 x 50 @ mile pace 45
300 @ 3:20 or 3:30
4 x 50 @ mile pace 50
400 @ 4:20 or 4:30
4 x 50 @ mile pace 55
Rest 1 min
500 Free all out

Kick & Distance Free Set With the Greensboro Community Y

Brad Herndon
Head Coach
Greensboro Community YMCA Makos

I keep getting great ideas from this page, so I wanted to give back…not even sure what’s originally ours anymore, but here’s our toughest set so far this season, based on how kids worked it and feedback we got:
Distance Free set for our National/National Prep groups, faster intervals were for our National kids, slower for National Prep – set took a little over 58 minutes for Nat, a little under 1 hr 10 minutes for Nat Prep.  The goal was to build kick each swim with the same amount of effort used on the 25 x kicks.
Note arrows on the left, kids went all the way up to 500 yard free for time, which they only did once (fastest boy 4:59, fastest girl 5:27), then went back the other way down to 2 x 25’s Kick (Total set yardage = 4000, 1500 kick, 2500 swim)