The Swimming Calculator

Coach Ryan Woodruff

Ever wonder how much faster your swimmer would be if he would just fix his turns? Curious about the combination of tempos and cycle counts that will lead to the fastest time for your swimmer?

This is the tool for you.

The Swimming Calculator (click to download the excel sheet)

Toy around with it a bit and let me know what you think. I am interested to hear any suggestions, and if anyone knows how to set this up in an html format, I would love to be able to put it on the web to eliminate the cumbersome excel download.

The Swimming Calculator can also henceforth be found in the Tools for Coaches section in the menu above.

I.M. Sandwich

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

SCY A pretty straight-forward I.M. workout. With all of the fun and interesting sprint sets, there are some things you still have to do.

1 x 800 IM @ 11:20 (1:25 base)
200 Free pull B3 @ 2:30
2 x 400 IM descend @ 5:40
200 Free pull B3 @ 2:30
8 x 100 IM descend 1-4 @ 1:25
200 Free pull B3 @ 2:30
2 x 400 IM descend, faster than previous ones @ 5:40
200 Free pull B3 @ 2:30
1 x 800 IM Fast @ 11:20
200 Free pull B3 @ 2:30

5,000 yards, 1 hour, 10 minutes

Sub-Threshold Tempo Set

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

Try this set for a little tempo and technique work. Tempos should work well for free, back, or fly.

4 x 25 at threshold tempo @ :10 rest
100 ez swim at normal cycle count
4 x 50 at threshold tempo +0.20 @ :15 rest
100 ez swim at normal cycle count
4 x 75 at threshold tempo +0.30 @ :20 rest
100 ez swim at normal cycle count
4 z 100 – 25 at threshold tempo/50 at cycle count/25 at threshold tempo @ :20 rest

The Whatchamacallit

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

1000 warmup – 150 free/100 no free

2 x 500 free pull B3 @ 5:50

5 x 200 free swim
#1@ 2:20
#2 @ 2:30
#3 @ 2:10
#4 @ 2:30
#5 @ 2:00

20 x 25 @ :30 prime stroke w/ Tempo Trainer
odd – build to Threshold Tempo
even – ez kick

5 x 200 @ 2:40, middle 50 is fast prime, the rest is ez free

2 x 500 @ 6:15, middle 100 is fast prime

1 x 1000 middle 200 is fast prime

12 x 50 @ 1:30
#1 – 35 m fast, then ez
#2 – 25 y UW kick fast then ez
#3 – 15m fast then ez
#4 – all ez

Twenty Ways to Do 20 x 25 – #9

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

#9 – Hypoxic Freestyle Speed

The ability to swim fast while using little oxygen is a vital skill for sprinters. This set aims to improve that ability. For a little variety, do it with paddles and/or a buoy and fins. For a bigger challenge, do all max speed swims at your Threshold Tempo with a Tempo Trainer.

20 x 25
#1 – ez with 3 breaths or fewer @:30
#2 – max speed with 3 breaths or fewer @:20
#3 – ez with 2 breaths or fewer @:30
#4 – max speed with 2 breaths or fewer @:20
#5 – ez with 1 breath or fewer @:30
#6 – max speed with 1 breath or fewer @:20
#7 – ez no breathing @ :30
#8 – max speed no breathing @ :30
#9 – max speed unlimited breath @ :30
#10 – max speed no breathing @1:00

Disclaimer: Use caution when performing hypoxic restricted breathing sets. Do not push yourself too far or you risk blacking out. Do not hyperventilate in preparation for a swim. Only perform this set under the direct supervision of a coach trained in rescue techniques.

Twenty Ways to Do 20 x 25 #8

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

#8 – Backstroke Tempo & Kick

20 x 25
Use a Finis Tempo Trainer and set it for your Threshold Tempo
#1- Backstroke, build tempo to threshold :25
#2- Fast backstroke swim at threshold tempo :20
#3- Backstroke spin drill at faster than threshold tempo :25
#4- Underwater streamline dolphin kick :25
#5- ez kick on back :30

Spin drill is sitting up “like in a chair,” with head still, very aggressive kick, and arms spinning at maximum speed. Don’t worry about holding water with your hands or moving quickly through the water. The entire emphasis is on tempo here.

Twenty Ways to Do 20 x 25 – #6

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

#6 – Improving Breaststroke Tempo

In my opinion, kicking speed (specifically the recovery portion of the kick) is the limiting factor for most swimmers when it comes to breaststroke tempo. Speeding up breaststroke tempo thus must start from the legs. This set focuses primarily on kicking foot speed, and then works briefly on the pull, then finally on overall stroke tempo.

20 x 25 @:30
Perform the following sequence 4x:
#1-3: Br kick w/board & tempo trainer at Threshold Tempo
#4; Br pull w/ flutter kick, focusing on fast arm tempo
#5: Br Speed Drill (narrow pull, narrow kick, fast hands and heels)

Aerobic Tempo Set

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

In order to do this set, you should have already established your Threshold Tempo. This set will help you train your neuromuscular abilities while enhancing your overall aerobic fitness. For your “prime stroke,” choose whichever stroke you would like to work. I particularly recommend this workout for backstroke, freestyle, and butterfly.

T-Tempo=Threshold Tempo

6 x 600 @ :20 rest
#1,3,5 – 25 prime stroke at T-Tempo/25 prime stroke drill/50 ez freestyle swim
#2,4,6 – 25 prime stroke smooth swim/25 prime stroke at T-Tempo/50 ez freestyle swim

This set requires significant discipline on the part of the athlete to hold the tempo under fatigue.

Twenty Ways to Do 20 x 25 – #4

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

Developing Devastating Underwater Kicks

20 x 25
Put cones or other markers at 5-yard intervals on the pool bottom

#1 – underwater dolphin 5 yards fast then ez swim @:30
#2 – underwater dolphin 10 yards fast then ez swim @:30
#3 – underwater dolphin 15 yards fast then ez swim @:30
#4 – ez freestyle @:20
#5 – max speed 25 yard underwater kicks @ 1:00
repeat up to 20

To make this set even more effective, you can do the following:
1) Use a tempo trainer for the dolphin kicks. Suggested tempos: 0.50 for round 1, 0.40 for round 2, 0.30 for round 3, self-selected tempo (no device) on round 4. Only very good kickers will be able to hold 0.30 and still kick efficiently.
2) Time all of the kicks or just #5. If the athlete sticks to the tempos, these should give you an idea of the most efficient tempo for the athlete to be kicking at.
3) Do it all with a parachute on. That sounds like fun!
4) Do it fins on. Or fins and a parachute. Or running shoes!

Find Your Threshold Tempo

Ryan Woodruff
Lynchburg YMCA

One of my favorite pieces of equipment is the Tempo Trainer. Below is a set to help you determine what I call your “Threshold Tempo.” Your Threshold Tempo is the fastest cycle rate that you are able to hold for more than 25 yards (and less than 50) while maintaining your stroke length and technique. Essentially, this is a measurement of your neuromuscular capacity for rapid movement. By finding your Threshold Tempo, we are then able to design sets to gradually increase this capacity (enabling a swimmer to swim at a faster cycle rate). In order to find your threshold, do a proper warm-up including some short sprints and then perform the following set with the Finis Tempo Trainer under your cap:

12 x 50 @ 1:00 speed up your tempo by .10 s/cycle after each pair of 50s

Start at the following tempos for each stroke (intended for senior swimmers):
Fly: Men 1.60 Women 1.45
Back: Men 1.50 Women 1.40
Breast: Men 2.00-1.70 Women 1.80-1.60 (varies highly by individual)
Free: Men 1.60 Women 1.50

If you fail to swim at least 25 yards of each 50 at the prescribed tempo, slow the tempo by .05 for the next two and then try again. Continue to make adjustments

For example, a female swimmer’s results from the set done butterfly might look like this

Repeat# – Tempo – Result
#1, #2 – 1.45 – Success
#3, #4 – 1.35 – Success
#5, #6 – 1.25 – Success
#7, #8 – 1.15 – Failure
#9, #10 – 1.20 – Failure
#11, #12 – 1.22 – Success


What we are trying to do here is push the neuromuscular border between success and failure to new faster levels. Thus, we will use the slowest failure tempo that we tried as your threshold tempo.

More sets using the Tempo Trainer another time.