Set of the Week – February 16, 2007

 Conditioning, and reinforcing technique.

If all long sets are hard, and all hard sets require technique, are all long technique sets hard? Man, that’s a technically hard question to answer… it’ll take me a long time to answer. 🙂

So, coming to the end of the season, there needs to be a balance between maintaining a certain level of conditioning and allowing athletes to spend time focusing on their fine points. This set, in a way, addresses those issues.

First, it HAS to be said that this type of set should be given only under pretty close supervision and/or that it should be given only to athletes who have the utmost dedication. This could be one of those "garbage yardage" sets if it’s just swum through. As a coach, you should demand that the athletes follow the prescribed instructions, and don’t let them off easy when they mess up (a stern talking to, or shaking a finger, will get them back into line). The set is fairly long and repetitive, so the brain needs to be engaged, or they’ll fall asleep.

The entire set will be performed three times:

1 X 400 free on 5:20. Not a very fast interval, but something that keeps them moving just enough. This is freestyle, and the swimmers should breathe to one side or another on each length. If they start breathing to the right on a given length, they must continue to breathe to the right for the entire length. The same goes if they start with a breath to the left. The goal is to take an equal number of breaths on both sides, but leave it up to the swimmer to decide when they’ll switch. The really committed swimmer may want to delve deeper than one length allows when focusing on one of their sides.

1 X 300 pull on 5:00. Again, a fairly easy interval, but they’ll need to alternate a 50 of freestyle pull with a 50 of either backstroke or breaststroke pull. If the swimmer is a butterflyer, they can substitute a 50 of single-arm fly drill.

1 X 200 IM on 3:00. Focus on transitions and turns. At least 3 to 4 dolphin kicks off each fly wall, work the count on backstroke, fine tune the transition from back to breast, HUGE dolphin kick on the underwater breaststroke pull, and back to 3 or 4 dolphins off the wall on freestyle.

1 X 100 kick on 2:00. Almost a loosen down, or a break prior to starting the set again.

This one set is 3,000 yards, and keeps the swimmers moving, while not too hard, for quite a while. Keep them involved with feedback on how they’re doing, and frequent corrections. Show them you’re watching, and involved. If YOU (talking to the coach) zone out during this… you can GUARANTEE the swimmers will.