Pure sprinter

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    Hey all,

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on a swimmer of mine.
    She’s a 15 year old girl, and a pure sprinter (fly/free). We did lots of sprint work for the 50’s and that pays off, but she’s struggling to improve on her 100’s.

    We mainly do
    – nx25 on 1′ (protocol set): she makes good numbers here
    – nx50 on 2′ (protocol set): she always struggles to make even 1
    – nx25 on 35′ (“pure” usrpt): she struggles to make many (4-6, fail, 2-3, fail, 1)

    She usually complains about her arms/legs being full of lactic acid very very early in the sets.
    We usually end up doing a very low distance in total. A typical workout may be:

    nx25 fly on 1′: total of 10 successful reps
    nx50 fly on 2′: fail first, rest 4min, fail second, rest 4min, make 1, fail
    nx25′ free on 1′: 4-6 successful reps

    Don’t even get me started on sets for 200’s…

    So, when she’s dead, she’s dead. No matter how much recovery time, she’s done for the day.

    But, we really need to work on the back-end of the 100’s. The goal is to drop from 1:05.1 on 100 fly to 1:04.5 (LCM) and 1:03.5 to 1:02.9 in SCM. I’m really hesitant to give up speed, but I feel she’s not doing enough work to really work the 100’s.

    My immediate reaction is: we need to do more! My second reaction (thank you USRPT) is: more is not necessarily better.
    Currently I’m focussing more on nx25 on 35′ 100 and 200 pace, and nx50 on 200 pace.

    What do you coaches think? Anybody has any tips? Swimmers of the same kind?



    I have a boy sprinter like this. Firstly, are you attempting to do 50s at 100 pace? I find that impossible, especially for drop dead sprinters who tend to have much faster race paces. I also am confused why you are mixing distances during the same practice session for the same event no less. And is the free set a 100 Free set? I suggest you focus on the power of the stroke over the speed for awhile (assuming her tech is where it needs to be). Slow the pace down, WAY down for awhile. So she is holding 16s right now I am assuming. Maybe start at 18s and really, really focus on stroke rate and stroke count. Force her to go at least one less. Do so many of these sets, she is going to cry from holding herself back. She has do them until they are easy and she begs to go down to 17s. Should take around 4 sets so a week and a halfish. The stroke count is KEY. One less stroke. And it has to be relatively easy for them. Intervals will be increased for them (well more than 20 seconds rest probably) Then cut down to pace for the next four sets performed (she may not need four sets or she may need more). But that first fail should start getting well into the set. The main issue with the dd sprinters is getting 20 mins worth of work out of them. It seems to reset his muscles to take on a load longer. But this also may only work for my dd sprinter. And warning once you get them down to race pace: it does not last very long being able to do a set for 20 mins…I await Doc blowing this strategy to smithereens


    Kevin & ljomccullough,
    Your worst nightmare has arrived:).

    Based off the limited information you posted (not meant to be mean). I used some software I have to do some projections for her goal speed from 1:05.1 to 1:04.5,that’s a .93% improvement and should be very doable. I take, well EXCEL doses, that % improvement and divide it in half to give me a mid-season time of 1:04.80. So, working at her mid-season goal speed she would be “n x 25s on 1′” 15.15, with a no slower than speed of 15.60 and “n x 50 on 2′” should be 34.22, with a no slower than of 34.74. The (“no slower than speed is 3% over goal speed). If you are working at goal speed that gets REALLY rough. I’ve tried that and numbers made are VERY low and it’s VERY frustrating to the swimmer. It can be done. But just be ready for VERY low numbers made. Your thoughts on low numbers made is valid. I’d feel comfortable if my swimmers can make 6-8 “n x 50 on 2′” in a row, at no slower than pace. Hope this gives you some ideas.

    Mr.ljomccullough :),
    Your thoughts are logical. How do you increase “force production”? make them take less cycles at or close to the same speed. Think about it. The brain learns at speed. We have done this with our DD sprinters also. So far with mixed results. Only one year’s worth of data. But I’m not ready to give up on it.

    I have done the same thing in breaking up the sets. Instead of 10-12 x “50 on 2:00”, we do 4 x 4 x “50 on 2:00” (started with 4 x 2 x 50 on 2:00), with a 200 causal swim on 3:00 between rounds. I have to remember that the speed is the critical component and anything I can do to insure that I will adjust and if it means adjusting rest interval or breaking sets up. I will. Whatever I have to do to get the race pace.

    I hope I’ve given some insight into your questions.

    Guys. You have to give more information. Actual paces for “n x 25 on 1:00” and “n x 50 on 2:00”, etc. It really helps. General numbers or season goals make it damn near impossible to help.

    I’ve attached an EXCEL sheet I use to track swimmer performance though the season. If you look at the highlighted box in green you can see the correlations are pretty high. We do this for every set we run during the season. No brag here! There aren’t 3 coaches in the country that can correlate their training sets to actual race performance.

    Again, I hope this helps,

    ljomccullough that wasn’t so bad was it? 🙂

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

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    When you do velocity “nx25 on 1′” or “nx50 on 2′” the swimmers starts on the blocks or below (in the water) ? Thanks


    all sets are done from a push.

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

    lefthanded swimmer

    I have a pure sprinter with same problems. Doc has been very helpful with advice. Size/strength is an issue in my opinion. I’m curious if it might be the same for your sprinter. My guy is 6′, 175, 15 years old and not shaving/no adams apple so he hasn’t developed his overall strength yet. He also relies heavily on underwaters. This greatly impacts oxygen.

    Things we do:
    1. Make sure recovery between sets is long enough. Whenever they think they are ready, make them take more time. This seems to help.
    2. Doc told us not to get to hung up on recovery time.
    3. Make sure you aren’t doing fly back to back days. Also do these sets on a Monday after a rest day. My swimmer usually swims 3 or 4 days then a rest day. He can not do 5 days straight and be productive.
    4. I’ve found that this set is better for my swimmer than straight 50s. 25 x 3 + 50. RI: 20, 20, 30; 2 min between; 3 x through. We change the RI around some. This set also is a good trainer to get up to doing n x50s. I know this isn’t a real USRPT set but you have to do what works.
    4. Mix the number of dolphins. My swimmer often complains of “numb or dead arms” too.
    5. Do a lot of vertical kicking!

    Things that didn’t work:
    1. Slowing down. It just didn’t work for us. I can even say start out cruising and he starts fast. There are kids that can crank out sets of 100+ of fly. It isn’t pretty and my son isn’t one of these kids.
    2. Sticking to precise RIs.
    3. Skipping fails. For us a fail isn’t a a slight drop. It’s falling off a cliff and looking like you are having a stroke. I can just about predict when one is coming. We have tried taking more time before total collapse through the first 2 “fails”. This gives us more quality volume usually. Kind of a prefail reset.

    It’s frustrating but you aren’t alone! Good luck and please share any results.

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