200 back

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    Hi all,

    I’m looking for some advice on a girl swimmer, 15y.
    She was 2:23.7 for 200 back LCM last july, and 1:08.0 for 100 back LCM.

    Of course, this year we’re aiming to improve, but it’s a bumpy road.

    She’s currently performing sets as below:

    – 100 back: 16×25 on 35, target between 15.5-16.0, she usually completes this set with 1 or 2 failures.
    – 200 back: 4-6×50 on 2m: target is <33.0, she usually starts out at 32 high, but drops to 32 low as the set progresses
    – 200 back: 16×50 on 1m: this is where the problem lies:

    She’s very motivated (wants to go 2:19) and wants to swim sub 34.0. This sometimes works on an interval of 1:10, but very unreliable when on an interval of 1:00. I would like her to hold sub 35.0, but she thinks it’s too slow and gets frustrated when swimming 34 high. Should we aim for 34.0 or go slower and make her hold 34.5-35.0?

    Last big meet (March) we finally got back to 2:23 LCM for the 200 back, but she’s stagnating for almost a year now. 100 back we dropped from 1:08.00 to 1:06.4.

    Also, she has a problem with starts in backstroke. She’s not a small and explosive person, and has difficulties with getting away, usually falling too much on her back rather than diving backwards into the water (hands and head too late, push to early). We’ve been working on this by simply practicing starts, but with moderate improvement. Any pointers/suggestions would be appreciated.

    What do you guys think, any advice?


    One of the reasons why swimmers fail is they think they can’t do it. 16×50 on 1m is intimidating. I would suggest to ask her if she thinks she can swim 4×50 on 1m. If she swims it without failure do a longer rest and then try again 4×50 etc.
    To keep a constant pace I would also suggest to work with tempo trainer.


    We did such a set yesterday, with emphasis on race strategy. It’s not exactly USRPT and I consider it “easier” than a normal 16×50 on 1m. Times were very good, however, I don’t know how good they correlate to a race.

    4x(4×50 on 1m + 100 recovery and discuss strategy of the 4×50):

    #1 33.7 33.9 33.7 33.4
    goal for the next 4 was to go out faster, but maintain pace on 50’s 2,3,4
    #2 32.9 33.4 33.1 33.2
    #3 33.1 33.8 33.4 33.2
    #4 33.1 34.8 34.4 33.9

    We have a SCM meet on sunday, I’m curious what is possible for her (she’s 2:21 in SCM).


    I’ve done something similar. I wouldn’t give them almost 2 mins. between (100 recovery). But 1 minute kinda like an automatic out. It helps keep set in a rhythm. We also do “make X number in a row and done with the set” It is usually 2+ more than they have done before and for some they have never done that many in a row and surprisingly many make it.

    Based off her 1Ba BT of 1:06.??, and she wants to go 2:19.?? in the 2Ba. She is speed deprived. She will need to be out in the 2Ba in say 1:07.47ish and her best time 1Ba is 1:06.??. There is not enough “speed reserve” Think about it. Might want to rethink doing 16 x 25 or add a set of 4-6 x 25 on 2:00, help with speed. This is one problems with speed first systems. They tend to run the speed right out of them after a while. Especially when numbers get high.

    Breaking down her 50s set. overall avg was 33.53 with .43 stdev. So, I’d say 33.96-33.10 pace range. Problem is that appears to be “n x 50 on 2:00” pace. I think the roughly two minute plus break is clouding the data. Note: helps if you go to the 100th .00 and .09 are actually a long way off.

    In the 2Ba, she is out 32.01 and then goes in the neighborhood for 50s 2,3 & 4 of 35.55. she might have a shot. But again the speed reserve is low.

    I think you are correct in targeting the under 35 as training pace and there is nothing stopping her from holding 34s. Just make at least one more than did last time. Remember the 35s are a “no slower than pace” faster is fine.

    Make sense?

    ? All that is not shared... is lost.


    Makes total sense, as always @doc!

    She’s certainly lacking base speed, although her 100m times are influenced by the bad start problem, she loses at least a second on the start and spends the first 25 catching up to the rest. Progress in that department is rather slow, I can’t seem to find a way to improve her start in a major way in a rather short term. Kicks are good, it’s just the backwards dive and entry that poses problems.

    We do sets for the first 50, she’s usually in the low 32’s there. I also offer sets for speed (25’s on 1:00 for split of 1st 50/100 and 25’s on 2:00 split 50), we’ll see on Sunday what the outcome will be.

    The problem to me is that she’s a bit too impatient. When I tell her to aim for 16-20 50’s targeting <35 she gets angry with me πŸ™‚ “I want to go 33’s”. In SCM I know she wants to go 2:16, PB is 2:21 from May 2015. She sets the bar very high, and this results in less consistent performances in the sets. On a good day she manages 7-8 50’s in a row on 1:00 below 34 (we started out on 1:10). On bad days she doesn’t even get to sub-34. Then she gets frustrated and angry, she’s quite the handful πŸ˜›

    best perfomances & splits LCM:
    1Ba: 1:06.43: 32.10 + 34.23 (Mar 2016)
    1Ba: 1:06.59: 32.76 + 33.83 (Apr 2016)
    2Ba: 2:23.76: 33.93 + 36.11 + 36.89 + 36.83 (Jul 2015, she was only 1:08.00 for 1Ba at the same meet)
    2Ba: 2:23.82: 33.63 + 36.65 + 37.43 + 36.11 (Feb 2016)
    2Ba: 2:23.84: 33.45 + 36.65 + 37.57 + 36.18 (Feb 2016)

    It’s been a while since we did a SCM meet, but personal bests are: 2:21.23 (May 2015) and 1:05.20 (Dec 2015).
    So 1Ba times have improved ; 2Ba: we’re struggling for almost a year now, although she’s definitely improved in the sets.


    Update after the meet (SCM) last sunday:

    100m back: 1:04.10 (split 31.47)

    200m back: 2:16.65
    00:34.43 (1:06.38)

    Happy coach and happy swimmer πŸ™‚

    In two weeks we have national championships, LCM. I hope we can maintain this level. And I wonder what is possible in LCM for her.


    Congratulation. What do you think were they key factors for her improvement? Did you train more in the last 12 months?


    I’ll take a shot at saying under 1:06 in the 100 and it may seem a bit of a reach but under 2:20 in the 200.

    Now that’s if you don’t screw it up πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Nothing like pressure to make you feel ALIVE!

    ? All that is not shared... is lost.


    Aargh @doc, the stress! I’m hoping for a 2:19.97, that would qualify her for European Juniors championships. We’ll see, at this point I’m putting priorities on enough rest. We continue normal sets, but immediately stop at failure. Combining nx50 on 2′ for 1st 50 of 200 and a set of nx50 on 1′ for 50 2,3,4 is hard in the same practice.

    : until July 2015 we trained 5x2h per week. Since Sept 2015 we have an additional 1.5h and sometimes she doubles on saturday. Currently we are mo 2h, tu 2h, we 1.5h, th 2h, fr 2h, sa 2h (+ occasionally a second practice). We don’t do any dryland, except some dynamic warmup (very limited) and she goes running about 1 to 2x week, depending on school work etc.

    We’ve been waiting a long time for this progress, but she improved technically (1,2 strokes less per 25) and of course she’s been working hard, lots of determination, frustration, failure, but ultimately succes πŸ™‚


    I’m facing the same issues with a triathlete.
    I stumbled over this article http://sisyphusrunning.blogspot.de/2011/08/law-of-diminishing-returns.html

    I think the author has some valid points which apply to all kind of sports. I might explain why sometimes swimmers make little or no progress even though training was by the book.

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