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.

Fast Feet to the Wall

Mike Cook, Mason Makos

For senior prep 11-15 year olds. We notice a lack of effort with our flip turns. Knees in a ball and feet not accelerating over the top. We worked on Monday with them and put them through this set today. The whole time reminding them the focus feet over the top and accelerate into the wall.

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Turn and Racing Technique Workout for Age Groupers

Mike Cook, Mason Makos

This is the workout we did for 12 and unders before the last qualifier heading into JO’s.  A little bit of everything. Hope it helps -Coach Mike


12×75 (50 free/25 back) @1:20

All open turns emphasizing throwing our hips and legs into wall fast with good head position.

12×25 kick (25 easy choice/25 fast free)@35

Main set

12×35@1:15 (all choice) start at 10 meter. Execute perfect turn 4 fast strokes out of turn.  Nothing good happens near the wall if we slow down

12×15 fast free no breath

(Alternate through these)

Kick set to emphasize short bursts at end of races with partners

Go to the 10 as a group.  Now go to the 15. Now to the wall

Cycle through 12 times

Repeat the main cycle but with 4 main stroke and 2 free

Repeat kick cycle 6 times but go to the 15. Than go to wall. Last one the whole 25 fast

Main set 2 racing the 100. Do with fins


2×100 free @2:00

1×25 easy kick on back

Strong first 25 and race that middle 50 and get home. Don’t be afraid of the race accept the challenge

4×25 from a dive walk around. One each stroke. All out with great finishes.No fins.  (Backstroke big girl/boy finishes)

Turn Work

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

In my opinion, spending time “working on turns” is wasteful when it just involves starting from mid-pool and “doing turns.”  I prefer to do something more like the following set, intended for one of our freestylers who has been having a difficult time with getting the approach to the wall right.

9 x 100 @ 3:00 from dive
#1-3 80% effort (no higher) with maximum focus on approaching/attacking the wall, getting an excellent pushoff and streamline
#4-6  same as 1-3 but at 90% effort (only if #1-3 were completed satisfactorily)
#7-9 100 % effort, same level of excellence expected on turns. If #4-6 were not done well, these last three are still done at 90%

The Middle IM Solution

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA
This set is designed to work on the weaker of a swimmer’s two strokes that make up the middle of the IM.  For 2:00, weaker backstrokers perform scull-scull-stroke (two sculls on the right side + a right-hand stroke and switch to the other side) while weaker breaststrokers do 3 kicks-1 pull drill. A wrench bang on the side of the pool signals swimmers to switch to the second set of instructions for 1:30.  A second wrench bang signals the start of the :30 rest and swimmers proceed to the nearest wall.  The fast 75 works on transition turns and we specifically are trying to improve our back-breast crossover turn.

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Flyin’ at Heartland

Workout notes:
 -Only had 90 minutes on this particular day so things were a bit more condensed than normal. Was fortunate enough to have a couple of college guys back to train with my best 14 & under flyer. The goal was for her to do the set without breaking stroke and preparing for a great 200 fly without doing a TON of fly.
-The Short fins set was the speed work for the day, with the mindset of finishing a 100 fly really fast (fins were there to ensure holding stroke after the main set, aside from generating max speed). The underwaters were a hypoxic recovery and a mental challenge to use a whole body kick after the 100s on both rounds.
 – This was a good workout for the guys and an awesome challenge she rose up to on that day (not a typical daily workout, we were going into winter break, I believe there was no full day of school afterwards so she could recover fully). She channeled this memory about a month later into a PR in the 200 fly by about 5 seconds. 
5:00FR Swim @ 1:00 Rest
8 x 25 @ :30 IM Order by 2s, fast in the deep end
(IMO by 2s: 1-2:Fly 3-4:BK …. Essentially Odds: EZ/FAST Evens: FAST/EZ)

Main Set: 

2x through…
1 x 250 @ 3:20
1 x 200 @ 2:40
1 x 150 @ 2:00
1 x 100 @ 1:20
1 x 50 @ 1:00
1st Rd: finish each swim with 25 fly (example: 250 = 225FR 25Fly…. 50 = 25FR 25Fly)
2nd Rd: finish each swim with 50 fly

1 x 50 @ 1:40 Easy Swim

Repeat all of that again.

+ 1:00 Rest to put on short fins..

3 x 100 @ 1:40 50FR/50Fly
-Negative Split
4 x 25 @ :45 Underwater dolphin kick

200FR 100IM Drill
Wall Series: “Stolen” from Tom Beck at GOAL, modified to current form. Finish each warm-up with this mini set:
The following 7 steps are one time through, we finish each warm-up session twice through…
1. Streamline for distance* (goal; reach mid pool & beyond without propulsion)
2. From 1st red float back to start wall, submerge for underwater accelerator dolphin to wall, last few yards should be sprint. (swim back out to about 10 yards out)
3. FR race pace turn
4. 2 Reverse tucks from a horizontal & stationary position (working on quick knees & shoulders on open turn)
5. Fly or BR open race pace turn
6. Back race pace turn**
7. Accelerator at surface into choice race finish 
*The second round the streamline for distance is from the blocks. No kick, just gliding.
**The second round we substitute the BK turn on the 2nd round with a BK/BR crossover turn.

The "N" Set

Dani Caldwell
SUSA Stingrays

This was a great set for determining the “mental state” of my senior swimmers.  I also did a shorter, easier version with my age-groupers later in the day.  I did it as an evening practice for my seniors, which gave them extra motivation to push themselves!
Goal yardage (depending on the ability of the swimmers and duration of the workout):  6500 yards
1.  You have 15 minutes do get in as many repeats as possible.  Count your repeats. (Coach records them)
2.  You MUST take the specified rest.
3.  You determine how much effort you put in.
4.  Once you reach your goal yardage, you warm down 300 yards and you are done.
1.  15 minutes — straight swim
2.  15 minutes — n x 100 FR kick with fins and snorkel @5 seconds rest
3.  15 minutes — n x 200 FR pull (no buoy) @20 seconds rest
4.  15 minutes — n x 100 stroke (no FR, all the same stroke) @ 10 seconds rest
5.  15 minutes — n x 50 FR with snorkel (work on turns) @ 10 seconds rest
6.  15 minutes — n x 25 underwaters with fins @10 seconds rest
7.  15 minutes — n x 75 FR @5 seconds rest

Luke and Mariel Liked this I.M. Set

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

This set is a follow-up to the I.M. Transition Set from last week. Its purpose is also to work on transitions, though it does not depend on the rest from that set’s broken swims.

6 x 100 50 fly/50 back
3 @ 1:20
2 @ 1:25
1 @ 1:30

3 x 200 IM descend @ 2:40

6 x 100 50 back/50 breast
3 @ 1:25
2 @ 1:30
1 @ 1:35

2 x 300 IM descend @ 4:00

6 x 100 50 breast/50 free
3 @ 1:25
2 @ 1:30
1 @ 1:35

1 x 600 IM all out for time

Put a strong emphasis on the final 10 yards of each stroke and the first 10 yards of the next stroke.

The Chunker

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

18 x 15 meter sprint @ 2:00

#1 – from a start
#2 – 7.5m in and out of a turn
#3 – from mid-pool into a finish

All start and turn sprints are timed to the head crossing the line. Swim easy between the repeats. Use this chart to see how fast your 15m “chunks” need to be based on your best time.

Triple Turn Drill

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

This post was originally published to

This drill was recommended to me by Griff Helfrich, one of our assistant coaches. It is designed to help a swimmer set up and execute a breast or fly turn correctly with maximum rotational speed. I’ll call it Triple Turn drill.

The explanation is simple enough: when the swimmer approaches the wall, he or she executes three consecutive open turns. During the first two, the swimmer does everything but the push-off, then reloads the body for another turn. On the third one, the swimmer pushes off the wall as normal.

When executing the Triple Turn, the swimmer must pay attention to several technical elements – a strong knee drive, swift compact arm action, and driving the head straight back into an agressive streamline to depart the wall.

This drill could be performed in the middle of any breast, fly, or IM set, or could be done with the swimmer beginning from a prone kicking position and initiating the Triple Turn on command or on a whistle.

Here is a brief look at one of our swimmers, senior Bryce Mendes performing the Triple Turn during a breaststroke set.

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.