The Modified 15-minute Kick Test Set

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

You may remember the 15-minute Kick Test Set.
Here’s a new wrinkle that I came up with last week: Instead of stopping after each distance and having the swimmers state their distance, and swim a 100 easy (which is good, but just takes a LONG time), simply make it a broken 15-minute kick stopping in place at the same intervals (1:00, 2:10, 4:30, 4:20, 2:05, :55). Take a minute rest treading water in between intervals. Swimmers keep track of their TOTAL distance rather than the distance kicked in each segment

+’s of doing it this way: Less time to complete the set, easier to calculate the swimmer’s total distance kicked.

-‘s of doing it this way: You no longer have the motivational “double-up” the distance and “double-down” during the set, as swimmers no longer are counting their yardage precisely in each set.

The Armada I.M. Set

Rick Shipherd, La Mirada Armada

The following set is from Coach Shipherd’s presentation at the 2009 ASCA World Clinic. He described it as one of the favorite challenging test sets that his team does.

4x through:

1 x 400 I.M. broken, :20 rest at each 100 (subtract 1:00 to get your time

1 x 300 done as 25 free active recovery@:25/50 fast stroke IM order (subtract 1:40 to figure your time for this broken 200 I.M.)

1 x 100 I.M. fast from a dive

The Blind Results Workout

Ryan Woodruff
Lynchburg YMCA

This workout is very similar to The Blind Goal Workout but has a single important difference: the athletes may see their respective coach-determined goals, but they do not get to hear their results. The coach may tell the group how many points they have achieved, but may not say who achieved them or what times the swimmers swam.

Follow the same format as in the Blind Goal Workout. It will be interesting to see how your group’s motivation ebbs and flows throughout the set. Steer them to being positive and supportive, then just watch what they can do!

Kick for Distance – Part 3

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

This set is a follow-up to the 15-minute Kick Test Set and the Kick for Distance – Part 2.

:20 pull-ups (do the maximum you can)
1:30 kick for distance. Measure distance to the nearest yard and record.

Use the athlete’s performance on the Kick for Distance – Part 2 to set a goal distance. Minimum performance goal should be to beat 1/2 of the average 3:00 distance. Feel free to substitute any other dryland exercise in place of the pushups to up the ante of the challenge.

Kick for Distance – Part 2

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

This is a follow-up to the 15-minute Kick Test Set.

:30 vertical kick w/ a snorkel
1 x 100 drill @ 2:00
3:00 kick for distance @ 5:00. Measure and remember distance to the nearest yard.

Use the athlete’s results from the 15-minute Kick Test Set to set a baseline goal for the 3:00 kick for distance.

(15-minute distance)/5 = Goal time for 3:00 kick for distance.

How Low Can You Go?

Greg Johnson
Carter Center Aquatics- Roanoke, VA
ALL KICK w/ Board
6 x (or wherever your best kicker(s) can get to):
    K 3 x 100 @ 1:50 (or wherever you decide) (r
    S 1 x 300 w/ snorkel D/S by 25 @ call
Drop 5 seconds each round to see who can make it down.  Once the send off is missed, you can either back the swimmer down to the last successful send off or have them wear zoomers or fins to keep up with the group.

Twenty Ways to Do 20 x 25 – #2

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

Every set has a distinct purpose.

#2 – Race-pace training for the 500 free.

This is essentially a broken 500.

20 x 25 @ :20 (for swimmers with best times 5:40 or faster)
or @ :25 (for swimmers with best times 5:40 – 7:00)
or @ :30 (for swimmers with best times >7:00)

Every 25 has the same breathing pattern. Always flip and put feet on the wall. Coach times and records each 25. Give swimmers a longer cool down after the set and add up the times. For best results, figure out each swimmer’s 500 pace (to the 10th of a second) per 25 before starting the set to give them a specific goal.

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.

Working 200 Race Pace

Ryan Woodruff,
Lynchburg YMCA

This a mid-season or late-season workout designed to push the athlete’s ability to swim at race pace for 200-yard events.  Before the set, determine the swimmer’s desired pace per 25, 50, and 75 to the tenth of a second (use our pace cards) for whichever 200 event you would like them to focus on.  Warm up, divide the group into 3-4 teams and then perform the following set.

30 x 25 @ :30
400 smooth swim @ 7:00
20 x 50 @ 1:00
400 smooth swim @ 7:00
10 x 75 @ 1:30
400 smooth swim @ 7:00

The goal for the swimmer is to beat their 200 pace time for as many of the 25s, 50s, and 75s as possible.  Swimmers are required to attempt to hold pace on every swim — no alternating efforts of fast and easy.  All turns are “to the feet” to ensure accurate comparison to race pace.  No need to remember times for the whole set — athletes should simply remember how many of each distance they successfully complete.  At the end of the practice, record their numbers, and assign 1 point for each successful 25, 2 points for each successful 50, 3 points for each successful 75.  Team with the most points wins and gets out first.  Team with the least points cleans up equipment or whatever other fun chore the coach can dream up.

The 15-Minute Kick Test Set

Ryan Woodruff
Lynchburg YMCA

This set is meant to test/improve kicking speed and endurance and can be performed SCY or LCM. Place traffic cones or some other markers every 5 yards/meters along the edge of the pool. Swimmers will perform six timed kicking efforts for maximum distance.

Effort #1 – 1:00
100 easy swim
Effort #2 – 2:10 Goal: Double your distance from #1
100 easy swim
Effort #3 – 4:30 Goal: Double your distance from #2
100 easy swim
Effort #4 – 4:20 Goal: Beat your distance from #3
100 easy swim
Effort #5 – 2:05 Goal: Beat your distance from #2 or half of #4, whichever is greater
100 easy swim
Effort #6 – :55 Goal: Beat your distance from #1 or half of #5, whichever is greater.

Use a whistle or bang a lane wrench on the side of the pool to stop the swimmers. Swimmers stop immediately upon hearing the noise and determine their distance to nearest yard, then swim to the nearest wall to begin the 100 easy.

Swimmers can kick with or without a board, with a snorkel, or with no equipment – coach’s choice. I prefer kicking with a snorkel for breast, fly, and free as it encourages good body position and keeps swimmers from being distracted by teammates. Open turns throughout the set for consistency and fairness between strokes. Pick one stroke to kick throughout the set.

Record all distances. To encourage competitiveness, write them on a dry erase board where everyone can see it as the set goes on.

1:00+2:10+4:30+4:20+2:05+:55= 15 minutes total kicking time