Full Workout with Stations and Quality Set

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

Most of the time on this blog, I publish single sets that we do within a larger workout. Today, I am publishing the entire workout how I have it written out for my group. You may need to zoom in a bit to see it well.

I usually start with a quote — sometimes we discuss it, sometimes we just get right in. Today we did our “Standard Warmup,” which we probably do for 80% of our practices. Our standard warmup is:

400 smooth swim choice @:20 rest

4 x 150 choice kick/drill/build by 50 @:20 rest

4 x 50 choice sprint any 20 of the 50 @:20 rest

Total: 1200m, ~18-20 min

For this workout, we combined 3 power stations with a set of 6 x 50 off the blocks. We did it three times through, meaning each swimmer did each station once and the 6x 50s set three times. It was a good day for us — team energy and spirits were high, performances were good, and we spent time during our subsequent dryland discussing the previous weekend’s meet.

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Quality Night

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We split the group in two for this workout, and both sets went well. The mid/sprint set allowed enough time for some real technical focus. The distance set kept our guys “in the groove” for some very good 100s.

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Team Challenge 50s

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

Our swimmers had been asking for a set where there was some sort of group incentive or group goal. I was happy to oblige with the set below (SCM).

The idea is this: we are doing 50s off the blocks until we score 400 points. Swimmers would score 1 point for the team if they beat their 1st 50 time for their best 200. 2 points were scored if they beat their 1st 50 time for their best 100. If they were able to beat the 1st 50 time for their GOAL time, they scored 3 points for the group.

Time goals were derived from the pace cards available on our Tools for Coaches page.

At random times in the set, we would do a 100 instead of a 50 with the stated goals.

As we started the set, I was concerned that it might take us a LONG time to get to the 400 goal. We got to 100 points relative ease, then to 200 it took a bit longer. As fatigue began to build (even with an ez 100 thrown in), the points started coming a bit more slowly, though the team stayed positive and supportive. After about 50 minutes and just shy of 300 points, I offered “get out swims” to 3 swimmers. We ended up with some phenomenal get-out swim 100s, and concluded the set. If I would do this set again, I might structure the points system slightly differently, but I was still pleased with the effort and the results we got.

200 Race Pace Stroke Set

Alex Morris, Kansas City Blazers

Looking to build speed on the stroke 50s throughout the set, work on closing speed in a 200 race

2 rounds, can change stroke between rounds

100 free @ 1:45

2×50 stroke @ :50 – 200RP +1

100 Free @ 1:45

4×50 @ 1:00 – @ 200RP

100 free @ 1:45

6×50 @ 1:10 – 200RP -1

300 ez – 50 kick/50 scull/50 drill

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Excellent Fast 100s

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

2 x through:

6 x 100 all out from start

2 @ 5:00 (with a 100 ez)

2 @ 4:00 (with a 50 ez)

2 @ 3:00

200 easy swim

Swimmers had two options for strokes. They could either pick a stroke and stick with it for one round (6x100s). Alternatively, they could choose the “IM option,” doing all four strokes in IM order but tripling up on their best individual stroke.

This was a great set for us, with excellent esprit de corps and some pretty good results for early in the season.


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Quality 75s!

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This was a good challenging set for us in our first SCY practice of the new season (We have been LCM for the first 3.5 weeks).

We did the odd 75s from a dive and the even ones from a push… the goal was to keep the even ones within the amount of time listed for each stroke relative to the odds.

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Big Set with Quality 100s

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

LCM. The intervals for the longer swims were pretty loose on this set, and we got some good results out of the dive 100s, particularly for early in the season. On the black sets, swimmers could pick the freestyle or FRIM (IM with free instead of fly) track. On the purple 100s, the instructions were to pick one stroke and stick with it or go in IM order.

Build-up 100s

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


We did this quality set interspersed with some stretch cord work today.

The goal on the 35 and 65 was to get a total time faster than your best 100.

Goal on the 85 was to beat best 100 time by 4 seconds.

Goal on the 100 was simply AS FAST AS POSSIBLE.

I really liked how it demanded flat-out speed early on and then encouraged them to hold it for longer.

Build it up, then burn it down!

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This set consists of two stations done twice through. This allowed us to have half of the group doing the set while the other half is doing the 50s with a specific technical focus.

The purpose of the 100s was to help the swimmers get in a groove during the first three (build it up!!!) and then be BLAZING FAST (burn it down!!!) the last three. We got some lifetime-best practice times with this set. FPA = Fastest Possible Average.

Quality Set with a Psychological Twist

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

LCM. This set was a pretty standard one, but the little psychological twist we added at the end made it interesting.

4x (200 all out from dive + 100 ez free) @6:30

The twist: After #3, I thought we were doing well but not as good as we could be. I asked each swimmer to find an accountability partner and tell their partner their time goal for #4. The goal was supposed to be challenging but possible, a time faster than they had gone already. Then I informed them that the partner of each individual who failed to meet his goal would do 10 burpees. This led to a little extra buzz and encouragement before the last one.

What came next pleased coach the most. Approximately half of the group achieved their goals. Several who failed apologized (“no problem, I’m getting stronger” came the reply!!!). A few even got out and did the burpees with their partners even though they didn’t have to.

Overall, the twist led to some more motivated and faster swims, and some excellent displays of team spirit.

Big Burn Set

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

The goal was to all out on each 75, keeping the ones from a push within the margins listed in the box on the right. Swimmers could choose their stroke but had to do the same stroke for an entire round.

Sprint Set for Meters

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This set can be done in a SCM or LCM pool. All 35, 65, and 95s are done from a start and times to the head crossing the line.

Athletes are instructed to go all out on the 35. The goal for the 65 equals 2 x 35m time. The goal for the 95 equals the 35m time + the 65m time.


35m sprint, 100 ez @4:00

65m sprint, 100 ez @4:00

95m sprint, 100 ez @5:00

We did the set 4x through to allow our IMers to go 1x each stroke.

Extend the Sprint!

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

The idea behind this SCM set was to challenge our swimmers to maintain “top” speed over progressively longer distances. It turned out to be a very difficult set, but one that went well.

We used our pace cards to set objectives for the 15m sprints, and then the instructions from there were to go “all out” on the 35s.

From there, we set goals for the 55s and so on.

For example:

15m time = 6.6

35m time = 18.2 (difference = 11.6)

55m goal = 18.2 + 11.6 = 29.8

75m goal = 29.8 + 11.6 = 40.4

95m goal = 40.4 + 11.6 = 52.0

This gets difficult quickly! As an alternative to the math above, you can re-calculate the goal after the 55s and the 75s.

One thing I would change would be to give a little more active recovery between swims. We just didn’t have the lane space/time to make this happen.

Racing With Coach Mike Cook and the Mason Makos

Mike Cook
Mason Makos

We had extra room today and so we decided to have the kids race a lot.  We wanted them to understand that even though they were tired they were still able to get up and race back to back.

24×25 free with snorkels@30 (focus on long stroke head steady)
24×25 back @30 (focus how far can you push the underwater, but you have to be up in 5 seconds)

Pre set
12×50 kick @1:00
12 x50 free pull@1:00 paddles
12×50 free to back @1:00 fast turns hold underwater for 5 seconds

Main set
1×50 free all out for time
10×50 free all out for time with fins ( must beat time fro first)
100 easy kick and get ready for one more 50
1×50 free for time with fins (fastest of day)

We had 24 8-12 year olds and all 8 lanes (3 heats of 8 with one heat swimming at a time. The next heat was responsible for getting the time and letting them know.  The kids had a good time and felt involved with each other.

Did you like this post? Check out Coach Cook’s IM Ready Set and his Broken Miles Set

Race Pace Set for a Well-Oiled (Team) Machine

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

This set is a really simple one, variations of which have appeared on this blog multiple times.  I am sharing/re-sharing it today to further explain how we execute this set.

Recently, we moved several swimmers up into our top group, so I have taken that as an opportunity to re-emphasize our procedures.  I like to run a very clean, efficient practice, one where every swimmer knows what he or she should be doing and what the expectations are.

For this set, we had 4 or 5 swimmers per lane across 5 lanes.  The aim of the set is to swim at 200 race pace on EVERY 50, but I instructed them to be mindful of  taking it one-at-a-time.  The early interval gives them good rest to be able to achieve that pace (and build some confidence for later), and then we tighten it up and get a REAL test on #5 and #6.

I typically solo coach 15-25 athletes in a given practice, so in order for things to function efficiently on this set, we do the following:

  • Swimmers push off 10 seconds apart.  This means I don’t have to do any subtracting of times — if I read “Matt…three-two,” he knows that his time was 33.2, not 23.2 or 43.2.
  • Swimmers are timed “to the feet,” meaning they complete a turn at the conclusion of the 50. This corresponds how we would time a mid-race 50 back or free (feet-to-feet) or breast/fly (hand-to-hand).
  • Every swimmer on our squad knows his or her pace for best times and goal times.  Each swimmers always has this info handy using our laminated Pace Cards.
  • I time every swimmer, but with this many swimmers in the pool, I can’t possibly keep track of who is making their pace and who is not, so we have set up a signalling system. If a swimmer achieves her “best time” pace (but slower than goal pace), she gives her self an open-handed tap-tap on the head. If she achieves her “goal time” pace, it is a closed-fist knock-knock on the head.  If the swimmer failed to make goal or best time pace, no signal is performed. This gives me excellent instant visual feedback on how we are doing.

 That’s just one coach’s example of how we keep practice humming right along… what strategies do you use?