Here’s a fun set that is as easy — or as difficult — as you want to make it. It’s also a lot of fun to GIVE the se. The look of confusion on the swimmers’ faces is what coaching is all about… creating intrigue (if even slightly… it still is just a swimming set).
First, how you give the set (what the coach should say):
"OK… listen up… main set coming up."
"We’re going 10 on the 1:00, and then 10 on the 2:00."
At that point… turn and walk away and wait to see what happens. It’ll probably be something like this:
"Ten what? Fifties?"
To which you can reply, "Well, OK, but I wouldn’t consider that too challenging."
Then you may hear, "Then how about 75s?"
To which you reply, "Well, that certainly would be more interesting, but don’t limit yourself on my account."
Then you might hear, "But, Coach…100s? YOU EXPECT US TO DO 10 X 100 ON THE 1:00?!?!"
To whic you’ll exclaim, "GREAT! YOU’RE GONNA DO TEN ONE HUNDREDS ON A MINUTE?!!?!?! THAT’S GREAT!"
See, the point of this set is to create what could be a test set that’s a bit more fun than, say, a T-30 (a 30-minute swim in which the coach logs how far a swimmer is able to go in 30 minutes — useful for figuring out what intervals the swimmer should be using in training).
Each swimmer can work toward a very challenging goal on each of the sets, the goal being to swim as far as you can on the 1:00, ten times through, and then swim as far as you can on the 2:00, ten times through.
An example of a set on the 1:00, in which everyone, no matter how far they’ve swum, leaves on the 1:00:
#1 – easy 50 (Remember: The first time you do this set, start out a bit slowly so you know you can improve through the season.)
#2 – build to the 75, trying to stay as smooth as possible.
#3 – sprint a 100 and, as soon as you touch, make sure you’re under a minute
#4 – easy 50 recovery
#5 – build to a 75
#6 – maybe another 75 ’cause you’re a bit more tired
#7 – sprint another 100, making sure you’re under a 1:00
#8 – easy 50 recovery
#9 – build to the 75
#10 – sprint 100 to finish the first part of the set.
A goal by the end of the season might be two 100s on the 1:00 followed by an easy 50, or to alternate a 100 and a 75 on the 1:00.
As you move to the set of 10 X ? on the 2:00, the same rules apply, and the same goals. There’s a fine line between how fast you go, and how long you can last. Trying to make a 200 under 2:00 isn’t something a lot of swimmers will attempt near the beginning of the set. Heck, just going as many 175s as possible is a pretty tall order. But if a swimmer makes the attempt to try it, she will quickly learn just where she stands in terms of training, and will have set the stage for a challenging test set during the rest of the season. Having a set we can monitor, as well as something that will present an endless number of variations, is also something to look forward to.
Invent and enjoy.