The 2050 Challenge

Coach Gwynn Harrison, Bridgewater College

This is a test we do at least 1/season (often 2).  I keep all results and have an all-time spread sheet of overall time and times for each effort.  This way, swimmers can compare progress from 1st-2nd semester, as well as over course of career at Bridgewater.  It started as a way to get the swimmers more comfortable on the blocks, and more able to swim back to back events during dual meets.  Mostly, its a mental challenge because it is all the individual events of a college dual meet (short order) back to back, all best effort.  I try to do it toward the end of our overload training period to mark the occasion 🙂  Though they complain about it – it occupys a positive tradition in our program

800 Free

200 Free

50 Free

200 IM

100 Fly

100 Free

100 Back

400 Free

100 Breast

**All 100’s + 50 free are done from dive in heats / all others are from push

*We are short course meters pool, so the distance events are 800/400 instead of 1000/500

*We go a 50 recovery after each effort and take an additional 1 minute between efforts

The Aqua Decathlon

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We took this challenge head-on and made a competition out of it. I prepared a spreadsheet ahead of time that allowed us to quickly determine a winner (as determined by % off of best time in a 200 free, 200 IM, and 100s). Excellent challenge that got ‘em going!

Another issue of “the wake-up swim” was published this week. Check out the archives here to see what you’ve missed or you can sign up here.

Baseline Kicking Set for Early Season

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

Used this set to get a some baseline data on everyone’s kicking speed early in the season. Looking forward to using this info to better organize our kick sets and make appropriately challenging goals for each individual.

Another issue of “the wake-up swim” was published today. Check out the archives here to see what you’ve missed or you can sign up here.

400 IM Test Set with Alex Morris of KC Blazers

Alex Morris, Kansas City Blazers

One round of each stroke, take the average of each round of 3×100 and add together for an estimated 400 IM time.

4 rounds, IM order by round:

4×25 desc 1-4 @ :30

3×100 stroke @ 1:45 best average/AFAP

2×50 kick/scull @ 1:00

1:00 rest between rounds

You can still sign up for our weekly e-newsletter to get an info-packed email about all things coaching and swimming delivered straight to your inbox every Tuesday morning.

Challenge Kick Set

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This set is a spin-off from the 15-minute Kick for Distance Test Set from yesterday.

Use the distances achieved in that set (1/3 of total distance achieved in that set) to set a goal for this one:


(5:00 kick for distance + 200 ez free) @9:00

Divide the swimmers into two teams — the team that successfully achieves their 5:00 goal the most times wins (think of a good reward for winning).

15- Minute Kick for Distance Test Set

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This is one of my favorite kick sets. For each of the blue times, the swimmer is trying to kick as far as possible. I use a wrench banging on the side of the pool to tell each successive group when their time is up. When they have completed the time, they pick their head up and check their distance (I have set kickboards on the side of the pool every 5m/yards) to the nearest meter. Returning to the wall, they immediately start the 200 ez.

The goal for 2:10= 2x the achieved 1:00 Distance.

Goal for 4:30 = 2x the 2:10 distance

Goal for 4:20 = beat the 4:30 distance.

Goal for 2:00 = beat the 2:10 distance.

Goal for :50 = beat the 1:00 distance.

Total time kicked is 15:00, so we write down the distances and add them up for total distance kicked in 15:00.

The Sprinter’s Dozen

Ryan Woodruff

P100 = 100 yd race pace. We performed the first one of each set from a dive and the rest from a push.

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=”//”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

Distance Kicking Test Set

Ryan Woodruff


We performed the following kick set last night in order to test our kicking ability and fitness coming off a recent taper meet.  It is essentially three broken 1,000s with some easy swim and drill mixed in between.

In the first 1,000, swimmers could use a board if they liked or could kick in any of our standard body positions. Typically when given this option, many of our swimmers prefer to kick on their backs.  For the second 1,000, no boards were allowed and swimmers had to wear a snorkel, meaning that they had to kick either face down or on their side (which we do for free and fly kick).  The third 1,000 used Streamline Sticks at the 12.5 yard mark and emphasized underwater dolphin kicking (in any body position) and the swimmers could choose the body position to continue kicking in once they surfaced.  We recorded total times for each 1,000 and will use this information to develop kicking intervals for the next few months of training.

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=”//”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

Distance Swimmers’ Delight: The Followup

Ryan Woodruff
!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=”//”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);
Last week I posted the Distance Swimmer’s Delight workout on this blog.  It was one of our most viewed workouts ever.  This past weekend, several of the swimmers who completed that set competed in a meet.  I thought it would be interesting to compare the results from the practice with results from the meet.

                           Broken Mile   Meet     Broken 1000       Meet      Broken 500    Meet
Swimmer 1            15:47            15:55             9:50                9:26             4:31           4:36
Swimmer 2            16:14            16:29            10:04               9:42             4:41           4:45

I should also mention that all of the times at the meet for these two swimmers were best times except Swimmer 2’s mile (missed best by .03)

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=”//”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

A Kick Set That Burns

Ryan Woodruff

I like having our athletes kick for maximum distance in a specified amount of time.  Like most teams, our range of kicking speeds is greater than our range of swimming speeds, so kicking for distance becomes an effective way to challenge each athlete when we don’t have the ability to go on 6 different intervals.  When we kick for distance, I like to put markers on the edge of the pool every 5 yards so that the athletes can determine their disance kicked to the nearest yard.

5 x 3:00 kick for distance @ 4:00 (descend 1-5)
100 easy swim @ 2:00
4 x 2:00 kick for distance @ 3:00 (descend 1-4)
100 easy swim @ 2:00
3 x 1:00 kick all out @ 2:00


Broken 200s Workout

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA
12 x 50 @ 1:00
Sprint 2,4,6,8,10,12 cycles on #1-6 and repeat

Main Set – 1 hour set
4 x 200 free @ 3:00 w/fins and paddles
1:00 rest
Broken 200 choice (50, 100, 50) w/:10 rest at break points
2:00 rest
4 x 200 @ 3:00 w/fins and paddles
1:00 rest
Broken 200 (50, 100, 50) w/:20 rest at break points
2:00 rest
4 x 200 @ 3:00 w/fins and paddles
1:00 rest
Broken 200 (50, 100, 50) w/:30 rest at break points
5:00 rest to swim easy
200 for time…goal is to beat first broken 200 w/:10 rest
100 easy swim

Kick Set – 20 min – no kickboards
4:00 kick for distance, descend rounds 1-4
1:00 rest

Mucho Kicking For Distance

Ryan Woodruff

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.

Today’s Kick Set

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach, Parkland Aquatic Club

This set uses performances from our 15-minute Kick Test Set to set goal distances for each swimmer. Total distance from that set divided by 10 gives the goal for each 1:30 segment below.

4 x 1:30 kick for distance @ 2:00Link200 easy swim
3 x 3:00 kick for distance @ 4:00
200 easy swim
2 x 4:30 kick for distance @ 6:00
200 easy swim

Triple Crown Set

This set comes from Coach Sean Quinn, former head coach of the North Carolina Aquatic Club. He had his swimmers perform it once a season:

3x through (all swims fast for time):
1,000 free @ ~16:00
500 free @ ~10:00
400 IM @ ~10:00

Record all times. Fastest total time wins the “Triple Crown!”

Turn Test Set

Ryan Woodruff
Lynchburg YMCA

SCY This set is intended to test an athlete’s turning ability as well as encourage him or her to improve this all-important skill. It works for open turns with fly or breaststroke swimming. If you have touch pads that can measure turn time, this set could also be good for back or free.

Swimmer performs 1 x 200 for time. Coach times the swimmer’s turns (from hand touch to feet leaving the wall) cumulatively using the start and stop buttons on the watch. Record swimmer’s total turn time and average turn time. For instance, a good total might be 7.00 seconds, average turn time of 1.00 seconds per turn.

Swimmer then performs fast 50s on a moderate interval (perhaps a 1:1 work:rest ratio). If the swimmer’s total turn time was 7 seconds, then he does seven 50s. If it took him 10 seconds, he does ten 50s. During the 50s, the coach times the swimmer’s turn. Swimmer must beat his average turn time by .2 seconds and give a good effort on the 50 for it to count.

If doing this set in a group setting, divide the swimmers into teams, each swimmer with a partner on the opposite team and a stopwatch per partnership. Team with the least # of 50s to do wins.

Miler 25s

Gary Galbreath, Dayton Raiders

Did this set early during taper for the Distance Group
Repeat Set 3 Times.  All 25s are to a hand touch.  Do Not Flip.
2 x 25 @ 25 Smooth
3 x 25 @ 20 Fast
2 x 25 @ 25 Smooth
3 x 25 @ 19 Fast
2 x 25 @ 25 Smooth
3 x 25 @ 18 Fast
2 x 25 @ 25 Smooth
3 x 25 @ 17 Fast
2 x 25 @ 25 Smooth
3 x 25 @ 16 Fast
2 x 25 @ 25 Smooth
3 x 25 @ 15 Fast



Ryan Woodruff

Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

This set challenges the athlete to swim at speeds approaching race pace over an increasing distance. Use cones or markers on the side of the pool so that both coach and athlete know the finish line. Time stops when the athlete’s head passes the cone. The goal on each swim is to beat your lifetime best 200m time.

Swim #1 – 175m
Swim #2 – 180m
Swim #3 – 185m
Swim #4 – 190m
Swim #5 – 195m and finish to the wall to get your 200 time.

Can You Spot Me?

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach, Lynchburg YMCA

This set uses yesterday’s Sweet Spot Test

Warmup w/ fins
400 smooth swim B3
4 X 100 build @ :20 rest
4 x 50 choice 15m sprint then ez

Main set using a Tempo Trainer

3x through:

1 x 50 @ 1:20 in sweet spot range
1 x 100 build @:10 rest
1 x 100 ez @ :10-:20 rest (leave on next multiple of 10)
1 x 50 @ 1:20 in sweet spot range
1 x 50 @ 1:10 in sweet spot range
1 x 100 JUST GO FAST @ :10 rest
1 x 100 ez @ :10-:20 rest (leave on next multiple of 10)
1 x 50 @ 1:20 in sweet spot range
1 x 50 @ 1:10 in sweet spot range
1 x 50 @ 1:00 in sweet spot range
1 x 100 JUST GO FAST @ :10 rest
1 x 300 25 drill/25 swim

On the JUST GO FAST parts, use the Tempo Trainer as a guide, but do not worry if you cannot hold it.

Practicing Race Habits

Ryan Woodruff

You can use this set to build up race habits and teach the desired race pattern. We put a watch only on the 4th 200, 100, and 50.

4 x 200 @ 3:30
#1 – 50 fast/150 ez – make the 2nd turn as good as the first
#2 – 100 fast/100 ez – hold tempo steady from 1st to 2nd 50
#3 – 150 fast/50 ez – work the 3rd 50 faster than the 2nd
#4 – 200 for time – put it all together!

100 easy

4 x 100 @ 2:30
#1 – 25 fast/75 ez – work breakout and hit the first turn dead on
#2 – 50 fast/50 ez – work 2nd turn as fast as the first
#3 – 75 fast/25 ez – strong kicking on the 3rd 25
#4 – 100 fast for time

100 easy

4 x 50 @ 1:30
#1 – 15m fast – work on the breakout
#2 – 25y fast- be aggressive into the turn
#3 – 40y fast then cruise to a perfect finish
#4 – 50 fast for time

Underwater Kicking Test Set

Ryan Woodruff
Lynchburg YMCA

Here is the set that I used to define the underwater kicking speeds in The Swimming Calculator:

10x through @ 3:00 per round:
12.5 Fast UW kick/ 12.5 ez kick – Timed to the tenth of a second to the athlete’s head crossing the line.
75 – 25 kick/25 drill/25 swim

Do 3 rounds dolphin kick face down, 3 rounds dolphin kick on back, 3 rounds dolphin kick on side or breaststroke pullouts, and the last round is choice.

We do the UW kicking in lane 1 with an athlete leaving every 10 seconds. This allows the coach to rapidly time every athlete to 12.5 yards. Upon completing the 25, the swimmer moves to lane 2 or 3 for the 75. This helps the keep the lane clear for the underwater kickers. For purposes of the The Swimming Calculator, I have defined the levels of kicking ability for senior swimmers as the following times to 12.5 yards.

For Men:
4.6 seconds or faster – World Class
4.7-5.2 seconds – Elite
5.3-5.8 seconds – Great
5.9-6.6 seconds – Good
6.7-7.4 seconds – Average
7.5-8.2 seconds – Poor
slower than 8.3 seconds – Awful

For Women
5.4 seconds or faster – World Class
5.5-6.0 seconds – Elite
6.1-6.6 seconds – Great
6.7-7.4 seconds – Good
7.5-8.2 seconds – Average
8.3-9.0 seconds – Poor
slower than 9.1 seconds – Awful