When I was coaching a college team, my favorite day of the week was Tuesday because every Tuesday we did a test set that involved all-out racing, from the blocks. It was a day of dread or joy, depending on who was looking at the practice. My favorite test set was the 200 indicator, because it allowed for the most improvement over the season.
The 200 indicator requires a bit of math, but when you are working with kids who score in the 1400s on their SATs, it seems pretty simple. The set is:
6 x 100 @ 5:00
Each 100 is from the blocks for time. I ran the swimmers in heats, so the rest interval usually turned out to be when the last group finished the first group would start. If you are doing this set by yourself, be sure to take PLENTY of rest in between 100s to make the set work.
Step #1 is to do the set. Make sure to record your times. My swimmers were geniuses and could keep track in their heads.
Step #2 is to throw out the slowest time and the fastest time, just like they do in diving competitions. This step isn’t necessary, but I think it helps to counterbalance being a little tight when you start the set and a little fatigued when you finish. You are then left with four times.
Step #3 is to average those four remaining times, to give yourself an overall time/100. So if your times were 1:00, :55, 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 1:02, you would throw out the :55 and the 1:02, and then average the 1:00s. Obviously, with this example your average time/100 would be 1:00.
In Step #4, multiply your average time by two to give you your expected 200 race time. This swimmer would be expected to go 2:00 in a 200 race situation.
I found this set to be quite accurate for predicting race times in season. As the season progressed, we whittled the set down to 4 X 100 and then, finally, to 2 X 100, and did not remove the fastest and slowest times when calculating the average time per 100.