The Best Practice We Have Had This Year

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

I know we aren’t very far into the year, but this one was REALLY good.


Swimmers partnered up. The 25s and 50s were fast off the blocks for time. Half of our group swam while the other half videoed them using their phones (“peer coaching”). Swimmers gave each other feedback. I was impressed with the quality of the feedback and the amount of teaching/learning that was happening. And we swam fast too!

Swimmer A would do all three of the 25s before swimmer B did the 25s. This allows for shorter time between performance, feedback, and repetition. Coach feedback was used to supplement and guide swimmer-provided feedback.

The Speed Machine

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

Problem: Schedules and pool availability meant we had a crowded pool and only 5 lanes.

Solution: The Speed Machine

SCY with starting blocks at one end

Swimmers start in lane 1 and progress to lane 5. All swims timed by coach to a hand finish.

We did 8 rounds @7:00. Swimmers stick with a single stroke for each round.

Lane 1: 1 x Dive 25 fast, climb out and walk back around to lane 2 @1:30

Lane 2: 1 x Dive 25 fast, finish, get time, and then duck under the lane line to lane 3 @:40

Lane 3: 1 x 50 fast from push, get time, duck under lane line to lane 4 @:50

Lane 4: 1 x 50 fast from push, get time, duck under lane line to lane 5 @:50

Lane 5: 50 easy and then climb out and walk back around to lane 2 to begin the next round.

We went in a generally fastest-to-slowest order and swimmers went :10 apart. This setup allowed for excellent racing opportunities. Swimmers always had a swimmer faster or slower than them in the next lane to race.

Race Pace Set For Split Group

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


For this set, our training group was organized into swimmers who specialize in 200 & down (shorter) events and those who specialize in 200 & up (longer) events. For the first two rounds, the instructions were the same. For the last two rounds, we performed the 50s slightly differently.

P200 = Race pace for a 200 yard event

P100 = Race pace for a 100 yard event

P500 = Race pace for a 500 yard event

PMile= Race pace for the 1650

EZ = Easy

The 500 served as active recovery/technique work and preparation for the following set of 50s.

Golf & Quality

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


Golf= add time (in seconds) + cycles (per 50). Bring this score down.
OTB = off the blocks, fast.
All choice, but do the Golf and OTB the same stroke for each part.
Context: we are less than 48 hours after our first SCY meet of the season, where we swam a very full order of events in short sessions. We had a medium-difficulty practice yesterday. We were on fire with this today.

Animal 50s

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We did this set in a pool with maximum depth of 4.5 feet. That allows for some challenging blastoffs (push vertically off the bottom in a streamline) and some good vertical turns (push off the bottom into a flip turn that happens mostly OUT of the water). We ended up doing them on 1:30 in a 25m pool.

Pre-Set with Fast Turns and Then We Go Racing!!!

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

In the pre-set, we used an approximately 10-foot long rope (with a loop in each end) to have a swimmer stand on deck and pull a teammate into a fast turn (imagine a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier accelerating from zero to takeoff) and then sprinting through the breakout and one cycle. P100 = 100m race pace. OTB = off the blocks, FAST!!! EZ = Easy speed. We did this set in a 25m pool.

Speed Lemons

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This set was a pretty good one for us tonight. Swimmers who were diligent with their efforts got some very good results, particularly at the end. All of the 50s were swimmer’s choice of stroke, but the instructions were to stick with the same stroke for three 50s in a row. We did this set in a 25m pool. The 50s on :40 definitely made them feel the squeeze of fatigue, but they were able to give it a little extra juice when the interval opened up at the end.

Speed Power Power Speed and GO!

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We did this set this week and got some tremendous results. Swimmers got to choose their strokes by round. The 2 x 25s with the bucket seemed to help awaken their speed for the following 100. We did this in a SCM pool.


1 x 25 fast from start @:40

2 x 25 fast resisted with a bucket @:40

1 x 25 fast (no bucket) from a push @:40

1 x 100 easy swim any stroke 2:30

1 x 100 all out from dive

1 x 400 25 kick/25 swim with paddles and snorkels

Infinite 50s Mindbender

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We started this set with about 40 minutes left in practice:

We started doing 50s fast from a dive. I wasn’t sure how many we would do. Just when I thought their enthusiasm (and speed) was starting to wane, I challenged an individual to hit a faster time to end the round for the group and start the 200 easy.

It worked better than I could have hoped. On each round, we had at least one swimmer expand their perception of their capability and get to be the hero for their teammates.

Speed with Unique Challenges

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA


Each round of this set, we swapped in a mystery set that the swimmers did not know ahead of time as the “unique challenge” in brackets.

The last challenge was “Save your partner”. Each swimmer had to swim a 100 off the blocks under a certain coach-determined time. Fail to make the time and your partner has to do it too. It was a somewhat clumsy attempt to get some peer-pressure motivation going.

The rest of the set worked well, with some of the unique challenges being a bit off-the-wall.

FPA = Fastest Possible Average

Blasting Buckets and Sox

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

LCM. This set makes use of the 12m diving well that sits alongside the 50m lanes we use. In order to maximize our space with our entire team practicing at once, we occasionally use it this way. For ease of communication, we call one width of the diving well a “25.”

We used 1-gallon buckets tied to waist belts for the set of 8 x50, timing each 25 and emphasizing racing a teammate.

For the diving well set, we used the aquavolo drag sox. The contrast between resisted kicking and non-resisted (when we take the Sox off) leads to some excellent speedy UW kicking.