01/01/04 Coach Black’s Jumpstart 2004

This isn’t a typical New Year’s Day practice with lots of repetitive sets and long yardage, but it will definitely help you get a jumpstart on 2004. It’s a practice that I would do with my sprint group in the middle of the season. Most members of this group swim the 50 and 100 freestyle, and a third event. Some are short-axis sprinters who compete in the 50 and 100 freestyle as their 2nd and 3rd events.

Feel free to adjust the practice if it doesn’t fit your needs. I do this all the time. I prepare a practice plan of what I want to accomplish, but when I get to the pool I rely heavily on what I am seeing – and almost always adjust the practice to fit the needs of the group THAT DAY.

We start with starts. Rather than simply jump into the water to begin practice, we use this transition time as an opportunity to practice the dozens of little things that you can do to improve starts, We try to pick a couple every day. After reading Dave’s articles about how his team warms up with the same 4-4-4 every day, I decided to move to a common warm up. I keep the numbers and warmup yardage the same every day, but change how we do it. I like my sprinters to think about something while they are warming up, so I suggest various focus points. By knowing that they’ll do the same yardages every day for warmup, they can focus on what they are doing rather than on how far they are going.

I always have them do a post warm up set to get them moving a little more before the main set. This is usually a flexible part of the practice, but it will always have some fast swimming of shorter duration. A typical post-warmup set is IM work with a mix of drilling and fast swimming. This is also a good place to mix in some fast kicking sets to get the legs warmed up.

The main set is tailor-based on the day. The set that you see here would be used on a Tuesday or Thursday because these are the days that we do more of our fast swimming. On a Monday the main set would be more aerobic in nature. Wednesdays are primarily active recovery days when I mix in more drilling and focused swimming. Fridays are meet-preparation days in which the main set helps us focus on race skills.

This is all a pretty simplified explanation of what we try to do as a team. These are things that we have found work well for our particular situation. I get a lot of my ideas for sets from reading articles by other great coaches, and from conversations with coaches and athletes. I try to steal everything that I can from everyone else, because I am that kind of person. My Dad, Glenn, Dave, Barbara, and Don are a few that I have plundered from in the past. What do you expect from a swashbuckling Swim Coach?

Some of you have asked for a key to help decipher my practices. I write all of my practices in shorthand because I use them more as a note card then as a finished speech. I write down little things to remind myself what I want to accomplish with each set. When I’m on deck, I try to make all of the explanations for the sets come naturally — and not as prepared material. The athletes that I work with are given special decoder rings at the beginning of the year to help them break the shorthand code. They don’t really work, but I don’t tell them that. If I suspect that they have broken my code, I change all of the things that I have been writing. I think it is important to keep your swimmers guessing. Here is an explanation of some of the shorthand.

Drill Progression. Typically this means a freestyle drill progression, but sometimes it is choice. One freestyle progression would be Extended Balance — Nose Down followed by Wrist Drag then Fingertip Drag then Low Hand Recovery. All these drills are shown on the DVD Go Swim Freestyle and Backstroke Drills For the other strokes, each athlete makes up his or her own drill progression.

Long Flow. When I want them to concentrate on a long rhythm, I prescribe a certain number of cycles where this is ALL they think about.

Cycle Burst. When I want them to concentrate on quality speed, I prescribe a certain number of cycles where this is their sole focus.

Dynamic Balance. Switching from side to side while trying to stay in a balanced position.

Here’s the practice:


300 Stretch Swim

WARMUP: 1200
All Warm up is weak side balance and breathing.
400 (100 Extended Balance — Nose Down, 100 Fist Swim, 100 Drill Progression, 100 Wrist Drag)
4 x 100 your choice of stroke (Long Flow 2,3,4,5)
4 x 50 somersault in the middle, fast turn/ dolphin kick under water (breaststrokers do multiple pullouts)

MAIN SET #1: 1400
With fins and paddles.
2 x (4 x100) IM @ 10 Rest Interval (RI)
Rolling Fast swim (1st one fast fly, 2nd fast back, etc.) The rest is long swimming.

12 x 50 @ 1:00 all stroke other than Free
(Long Flow 3/Cycle Burst 3)

MAIN SET #2: 2600
Working Back Half Swimming
Swim 4 rounds of the following. Take :10 RI between all intervals. Take 1 minute between rounds.
300 @ 4:00 (200 pace + 100 all out)
200 @ 2:30 (150 pace + 50 all out)
100 @ 1:10 (75 pace + 25 all out)
50 all out (Finish stronger than you start.)

Rounds 1 and 4: Free
Rounds 2 and 3: Your choice, work on second stroke.)

MAIN SET #3: 800
Swim 2 rounds of the following:
4 x 25 Drill progression work on recovery
4 x 25 Dynamic balance — swim with your hips
200 @ 2:30 Control your rhythm

100 Wrist Swim focus on switching with your hips
2 x 50 one left arm only one right arm only
100 Rhythmic swimming

Sit on the couch for the rest of the day and enjoy the parades and bowl games. Drink a lot of water because it will help with the impending New Year’s Day headache.