Sunday, November 29, 2009

Training Set for the 200

One of the continual challenges for us as coaches is getting our swimmers ready for the rigors of a 200 race. This race is viewed by most world class swimmers as a "long" sprint in that it rarely takes longer than two minutes. It combines the elements of speed found in the 50 and 100 distances with a touch of endurance required as well, perhaps not the same measure as needed for a 400 or 500 but definitely something more than the 100.

If you look at the splits for the fastest swimmers you will see that all the laps are swum at virtually the same speed with the only difference being the first lap is faster due to the dive. So how do we get our swimmers to accept the notion and then be able to pull it off?

The answer to the first is education; we have them look at splits from the top swims in major competitions and then compare their own splits to find room for improvement. The answer to the second lies in the training for this swim. We have some success recently by tweaking the way we view a 200 swim. Since it is short course season here in California we are focusing on 200 yard swims but the same concept holds true for 200 meter long course except that you would adjust the training set below accordingly.

We swim the 200 by focusing on the three 50 yard segments that occur between the first and last lap. A set we did Saturday that works on the twin concepts of keeping those 3 x 50 times the same while keeping your "head" in the swim looks like this.

We took the goal time for the 200 and broke it into even 50 splits as follows (remember that we got these ratios by looking at the fastest swimmers in the world): the first 100 is two seconds faster than the 2nd 100. If you were swimming a 2:00 race you would be out in 59.0 and back in 1:01.0. The individual 50's would be 28.5, then 30.5, 30.5, 30.5. Conversely a 1:38 200 looks like this - out in 48.0, back in 50.0 with 50's that are 23.0, 25.0,25.0, 25.0. In our set each swimmer knows their goal time and has the splits figured out. The percentages below were set arbitrarily with the only goal being to keep all three 50's exactly the same, foot touch, preferably to the 10th of a second (at least that is the goal).

3x50/1 at 80% effort defined as race pace + 3.0 seconds
Easy 100 snorkel swim to regroup strokes

3x50/1 at 85% = race pace + 2.5 seconds
Easy 100 snorkel

3x50/1 at 90% = race pace + 2.0 seconds
Easy 100 snorkel

It is very easy for the swimmers to swim faster than the suggested times. We asked them to adhere to the times for consistency of effort with them occasionally commenting that it did require a touch more effort to keep the times the same. This is what happens in the race.

Then we went to the blocks and dove a 25 foot touch at race pace on the .30 interval followed by 3x50/1 foot touch at race pace followed by a 25 hand touch last lap. In a sense it is a broken 200 but we did not time the opening or closing 25's. All we were after was the 3 x 50 at race pace and for them to feel what the effort needed was like to achieve the times desired.

The entire workout was about 4500 yards with 450 at sub max effort and 200 at max effort. We are 21 days from our December shave meet. We will do this same set next Saturday which is 14 days from the meet. On this kind of set we are really fussy about details and the swimmers are focusing on the tasks while mindful of the results. Our mantra is stroke technique first during warm-ups, race composition during the set and finally goal times. We find that if the swimmer stays on point, that is, on task, the times will take care of themselves. These sets tend to build a ton of confidence since they know that they can stay sharp with their focus for 2 minutes +/- depending on the swim.

You can also do this for the strokes which have a variance for the splits and IM's as well. On the IM's the 50's are fly/back, back/breast, breast/free.

Anyone out there have a favorite set of similar nature, or any set for that matter? We will share around the coaching and swimming community. Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Suits that Make You Go Fast

This week we want to pass on some interesting insights from Shawn Klosterman.


As always, let us know your thoughts. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fresh Ideas

Every now and then we admit to plagiarizing workouts. This is one such case! Several of our club swimmers attend universities with major swimming programs. The workout below is from the sprint group at a top 10 NCAA Division 1 program. We find the variety refreshing and please note that the level of intensity is huge. You can re-work the amounts, intensity and interval to suit your needs. Think of this as a template...or just go for it as written. If you choose the latter, remember we told all that stuff about checking with your doctor before strenuous exercise...etc.

Have fun, let us know what you think and even send us your favorite, or latest creation. We'll share it with the swimming world; let us know if we can use your name/club etc.

Warm-up 4-4-4
400 flop
4X100 on 1:30
4X50 on 50

2 rounds

100 on 1:15 go 60 seconds exactly
2X25s kick
75 @ best 100 time
2X25s strong drill
50 on 50 go 30 seconds exactly
2X25s strong swim
25 200 pace
2X25s 0 breath

3 Rounds

100 swim 9 strokes/lap
100 kick strong
50 swim 100/2 + 7 seconds
50 kick fast
on the 4:30, about 5-10 seconds rest in between swims

100 swim 9 strokes/lap faster than first 100
100 kick strong
50 swim 100/2 + 5 seconds
50 kick fast
on the 4:30, about 5-10 seconds rest in between swims

50 swim 100/2+ 3 seconds
50 kick fast
25 swim fast
25 swim 0 breaths
5-10 seconds rest in between swims then right into

25 efficient swim
25 easy
25 efficient swim
25 easy
25 efficient swim
25 easy
50 easy

Then after
3 75s
25 kick fast
25 swim fast
25 swim fast hold breath to halfway
on the 130
25 kick fast
25 swim fast
25 swim fast hold breath to 15
25 kick fast
25 swim fast

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Great Idea!

We got an email from Ryan Woodruff at the North Carolina Aquatic Club. Check out his blog. It is filled with stimulating ideas. You can find it at The Swimming Workout Wizard.

Here at SwimCoachDirect we take great satisfaction in sharing information and ideas. We believe our sport is somewhat unique in that most coaches around the world are willing to share. Thanks to Ryan for 1 - having excellent ideas and 2 - sharing them!

His idea of Freedom Fridays is explained below. For more challenges go to his link. And then let us and him know what you. Have a great week at the pool!

Freedom Fridays by Ryan Woodruff.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

One of the young women on our US Swimming Club (North Bay Aquatics) was fortunate to be recruited and accepted at UCLA this fall. Her coach is Cyndi Gallagher. Cyndi is credited with having the #3 recruiting class in the nation this past year and has reloaded her team nicely; watch for fast swimming from the Bruins!

Cyndi was afforded the opportunity to attend the impressive 2009 Women’s Conference just recently. We thank you Cyndi for allowing us to share your comments from what was obviously an inspiring gathering of highly energized people.

One of the cornerstones of our coaching is to share what we have in hopes of making our sport more meaningful to all who are involved. Please feel free to share this posting with your swimmers, fellow coaches, parents and officials.

2009 Women's Conference, hosted by the First Lady of California, Maria Shriver.
Cyndi Gallagher's notes from the conference:

I was lucky enough to be a guest of Kristin Gibbs, the director of marketing for Lean Cuisine, one of the major sponsors of The Women's Conference. Kristin had the honor of introducing Maria Shriver - a big step from being a UCLA student-athlete and assistant coach at UCLA! It was an amazing day filled with emotions and inspiration. I walked away a different women - a better woman and so grateful to have been able to attend.

The mission of the Women’s Conference is to recognize your own voice, your own power and have the courage to be who you are. The conference is held to inspire, empower and educate women so they can be the architects of change in their own lives and the lives of others.

A few of the speakers last years were: Condoleeza Rice, Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem, Warren Buffett and celebrities Sally Field, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jennifer Lopez with Bonnie Raitt performing. A few years back, Dalai Lama and Michelle Obama were speakers.

Some of the speakers this year were Katie Couric, Madeleine Albright (first women secretary of state), Richard Branson (founder/president of the Virgin Group- airline/records-employees over 50,000 people), Eve Ensler (of the Vagina Monologs - hysterical!), Caroline Kennedy, Geena Davis, and Alicia Keys performed.

There were three topics presented in the program along with breakout sessions. The three conversations were “Tough Leadership Decisions in Tough Times”, “How A Women’s Nation Changes Everything” and the most powerful sessions for me was “Grief, Healing and Resilience”. It was moderated by Maria Shriver who is suffering from the loss of her mother and uncle Teddy and the three speakers were Elizabeth Edwards, who is currently battling breast cancer and lost her first son, 14 years ago, Susan St. James who lost her 16 year old son in a plane crash and Lisa Niemi, who lost her husband, Patrick Swayze, a few weeks ago. They are all in different stages of grief.

Another wonderful thing about the conference is the award ceremony called The Minerva Award. Minerva is the Roman Goddess of wisdom who is the tireless warrior and goddess of peace. The four women where honored from everything for tutoring homeless children (school on wheels) to having a pediatric hospice (George Mark Children's House) for families that are going through the devastation of a dying child. Their stories, and the lives that they have affected, are amazing.

Here are some of my notes from the conference:
  • If you want something - work hard and take opportunities – you can make it happen

  • Embrace change and give up the need to know

  • Be grateful – list the reasons your life is right.

  • Practice gratitude everyday.

  • Robin Roberts’ mother’s mantra: “Make your mess your message to help others”

  • You’re not too old, too young or too busy to serve. Find your passion to help the world, to serve

Good decision making:
  • Get opinions – ask others

  • Do not be afraid to try things and fall on your face

  • Do not take NO for an answer

  • Understand what the risks are and take calculated risks – protect downside!

  • Inaction is not an option

  • The more you make daily decisions, the easier it will become

  • Approach things positively, not with fear of failure

  • To be good in business be good in math or hire someone who is!

Good leaders: “Just be yourself, everyone else is already taken”
  • Listen

  • Make it fun for people who work for you

  • Have courage


  • Focus on solutions, not problems

  • Decide whether you want to be liked or admired

  • People change on what they feel (emotions), not what they know. Make the message inspirational

  • Leaders show their true selves in times of challenge. Courage and Wisdom

Build a team through good times and bad times. Zero tolerance for backstabbing. Be willing and able to agree and disagree with each other – saying it with respect.

Trailblazers: Madeleine Albright – the 64th Secretary of State and first women ever to hold that position. “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help women”
  • Don’t impose your values (spending more time with children, working less) on your spouse or judge choices of others (stay at home mom vs. working mom). Every woman has the right to choose

  • You are always evolving – communicate with your spouse, boss, and children

  • You define success for yourself – choose who you want to be

  • You can be what you envision – dream it and visualize it