Posted on Leave a comment

Tapering for Your Event

The athlete must be in aerobic shape and strong before you start fine-tuning or “taper”. Tapering needs more attention and understanding in our sport.

What is the most important part of the season to you? Aerobic phase, anaerobic training, weights, deck based dryland and kicking? The truth is, they all are essential and coaches/swimmers need a plan.

What does tapering mean to you?

Tapering is not just resting your body for the big event. It is fine-tuning it for optimal performance. Athletes must be able to practice at a high caliber to perform to expectations. Athletes must be their strongest, sharpest and most focused before taper meet(s). Athletes need to take responsibility for training,

“I missed my taper” or “coach didn’t taper me correctly” are just excuses…

To taper correctly your athletes must have goals and the goals must drive training. You must understand recovery and muscle development of athletes and have the flexibility to individualize for a specific athlete and his/her events.

Understanding how athletes respond to different types of training based on slow, medium and fast twitch muscle fibers helps individualize training. Training slowly doesn’t help the athlete who has fast twitch predisposition and resting doesn’t produce optimal performance.

Taper is an in-depth process that is a whole lot more than dropping yardage the last few weeks and adding sprints. Most coaches use weight training to cross train and prevent injury then stop weights 2-4 weeks out from championships. The athletes must continue to lift throughout taper in order to achieve strength gains, which coincide with speed and power necessary to perform at meets. If you cross train during the season you must taper the cross training to optimize performance.

Kicking is more important than ever. Since the legs are slow to recover and are the hardest to get in shape, make sure you always write sets and workouts that alternate upper body and lower body. This is a great way to include active recovery in every workout.

Preparing your athlete to compete at race pace (goal speed) must always be emphasized, “always”. You must create goal speed so your athletes are 100% prepared to achieve.

You can still decrease yardage and maintain/increase aerobic capacity during taper. When done correctly an athlete will be prepared for multiple championship meets. One way to increase aerobic capacity is to monitor heart rates. Heart rate is essential to monitor to adjust the athletes training and recovery needs.

Don’t forget about reaction time training which involves mental focus and increased muscular reaction. Incorporate appropriate drills for focus and quickness.

The athlete must believe in what they are doing so engage and educate them every step of the way. They must be able to give you feedback about how their bodies are feeling and how well they are recovering to adjust workouts. They must also be mature enough to handle proper feedback.

Optimal training = Optimal performance.

The taper outline details yardage demands for distance, mid-distance, and sprinters. It explains when to train tarzan with drills, overspeed, race pace, recovery, starts, and turns. It details when to use variable speed swimming and kicking while detailing intensity and exact distances to be trained. One of the most important aspects of training is alternating upper and lower body, which is built in active recovery, is built into the taper.

The whole 7 week taper outline can be found here.

Posted on Leave a comment

Grand Prix Meets

Coaches I feel we need to voice our opinions about a few issues at the Grand Prix meets.

I was recently at the Indy Grand Prix meet in March. As some of you know they have capped the meets at 700 swimmers. One of the Grand Prix meets closed in hours. The B flight was very small at Indy and could have been expanded by allowing more into the meet. Spring Juniors Nationals can run a quality meet with almost double the swimmers…

Capping the meet at 700 swimmers has had a ripple effect for the meet.

1. Coaches are signing swimmers up for the meet in advance and deciding whether to attend later.

2. There were over an hour of scratches each day and a lot of no shows in the meet. This affects the posted meet timelines as well as hurting swimmers who get closed out of the meet.

I feel we need to address space in warm ups especially at National Level meets Sectionals, Grand Prix, Juniors, etc.

Swimmers and Coaches work all year preparing and tapering for a great meet just to attend these meets and compromise proper warm up space.

To provide proper warm up space do we have schedule meets differently or have scheduled breaks during the meet. I am sure many of you have thoughts on how to handle space issues so please share your ideas.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Number One Problem Facing Swimming

I feel the culture of quick gratification and instant success is the main thing coaches have to learn to coach around is the number one problem facing the sport.

We can outsmart the younger generation by creating daily, weekly and more creative test sets that helps the young athlete feel good about their efforts.

Demanding more quality in shorter practices, more dryland workouts while keeping in mind that we might have to coddle this generation a bit. If that is what it takes then do it. You can slowly teach that long-term hard work equals success.

Teach swimmers what to expect every step of the way because their understanding of physical and mental progressions can only help.

Explain the yearly, seasonal and daily outlines of training. Explain the cycles of muscular breakdown, recovery and strength gains. As we know it is a lot more than a few days of hard work before a meet. Younger swimmers and High School swimmers actually believe that if they have a few good practices they should see results. Teach them athletics are not the same as academics, you can’t cram for a meet.

Train boys and girls differently. Basic generalizations:

Girls can practice longer and harder mentally and physically but are a lot harder to coach at meets.

Boys need to know the whole set and in advance. Let them know exactly what effort you expect for each part of the set or practice.

Boys are a lot easier to coach at meets.

I am currently going through all of this again as I am building a new program and developing a culture for swimming in this community.

We have to work with what we are given so do your best. Make every workout and set as different as possible. Faster Swimming workouts are developed with all of this in mind.

Posted on Leave a comment

Keys to Developing Your Own 7 Week Speed Refinement Program – Intro and Practice Techniques

Hello Coaches and Swimmers.

We are going send out two excellent sprint workouts per week for 7 weeks. They were used in a 7 week program along with Dryland/weight training and recovery swimming.

For example: Monday – Dryland/Weights, Tuesday – Sprint workout #1, Wednesday – Recovery swimming, Thursday – Day Off, Friday – Dryland/Weights, Saturday – Recovery swimming, Sunday Sprint workout #2.

You can follow this plan for the next 7 weeks and incorporate the Sprint workouts accordingly.

The workouts are designed to develop speed and create the physical and mental understanding of Race Pace (goal time work). Recovery is either written into each set or by alternating kicking and swimming by sets. Do the workouts as written for the best results and maintaining quality.

Each set explains the % of effort needed. You will be introduced to almost all of the aspects that are written into the 23 week, 14 week and 7 week programs created by They are; partner racing kicking/swimming, variable speed work by distance – stroke or kick count, race pace work for all strokes, tarzan drills/sets, incremental stroke count, broken sprints to maintain quality, fins, cords, paddle swimming, heart rate swimming/sets, recovery swimming/kicking, descending swimming or pace, over speed and block sprints to name a few.


1. Racing – The drive to win close races to recover from mistakes and overtake your competition, the desire to win!!!! Some swimmers have that desire and others must be taught. You must add racing sets in your workout. Each swimmer must have the ability to start and stop speed (variable speed) throughout the season, no matter what phase of training you are currently involved. Drafting then passing, stagger starts and racing different abilities of swimmers in practice must be some part of a weekly routine.

2. Race Pace – This isn’t sprinting to exhaustion but creating the speed that will be needed to achieve goal times for each event. Let’s take the 100 free for our example: let’s say your goal is to swim a 48.00 in the 100. In order to achieve this swim, we must create and instill muscle memory at this speed. You will need to maintain 12.00 while swimming 25’s and 24.00 speed while doing 50’s. You can eventually work up to 75’s and broken 100’s (breaking them at different distances) and finally a 100 from the block before you actually swim your big race. This will give you the confidence needed for the big race. Start the season with enough rest at each desired distance to achieve race pace goal speed and as the season continues to lessen the rest interval and achieve the same result. If you are tired on a given day that you want to do race pace then you must give yourself enough rest to achieve race pace. This doesn’t have to be the main set but just the last 10 minutes of a desired workout. Please remember to do race pace during the aerobic phase of the season and during holiday training. Race pace develops muscle memory and helps create speed and power.

Remember that your dryland program is important and must coincide with this type of training. You will do more race pace as the taper progresses.Recovery and overspeed sets are as important and must be incorporated with race pace. Training with speed and power in the water and during dryland will enhance everything you are trying to achieve in your program.

3. Overspeed – Creating and enhancing muscle memory with the possible speed of a time not yet achieved in a race. Creating speed in short spurts helps train the fast twitch muscle make-up of every swimmer. Cords are a widespread example usually incorporated during the taper or resting phase of a season and should be used throughout. Overspeed can be achieved off starts and walls and during very short distances or with correct tarzan swimming.

4. Tarzan for speed purposes – Swimmers that do water polo use tarzan to see the ball. They are strong, have arm speed, upper body strength and usually are great at kicking. Wow, everything you need for sprinting! Sprinting doesn’t always mean short distances. 200’s are now in the sprint category.If you have ever seen Diana Munz swim she has great kicking skills that were evident in her swims off each wall and at the end of distance events.She shows variable speed and power in the distance events with her upper body and legs…

5. Recovery and dryland – These two categories make most people nervous.Proper recovery must be part of each workout phase and the dryland program must match. You must constantly change body part emphasis in your workouts to ensure recovery. Hard work should alternate legs, core and upper body. That doesn’t mean if you are recovering the legs you can’t work the arms. You need to alternate upper and lower body between dryland and swimming. You can alternate within each set, from set to set, from workout to workout or week to week. Add a true recovery workout once during the week and see how you respond the next day. Maybe you even need a day off as in MENTAL RECOVERY.

6. Each set should include distances as well as the repetitions, mechanics emphasis, and what to do on each part of the swim. For example: 6 X 400’son 5:00 free with 4 fl y kicks off each wall breathing to one side of the pool,to ensure breathing on both sides and even shoulder rotation. Odd swims are variable speed 75% – 95% by 50, with numbers 2 and 4 pace holding 1:02and number 6 being timed with sprint kicking each wall and last 200. Write it down and take it to the pool.

7. You must be able to read the clock and understand negative, even, ascending, and pace terminology for splits in races and practice. Swimmers should constantly be using the clock even during warm-up and warm-downs so times and speed can be inherent. You must understand a certain speed with feel. You must understand and learn variable speed and repeats of a certain pace physically and mentally. Simple example during warm-up 4 X200’s with descending send-offs with a goal time on the last 200. For example, 4 X 200’s on 2:40, 2:30, 2:20 and the last one go a 2:15.

8. Coaches flexibility: Stay flexible and evaluate if the swimmers are getting what you wanted out of each set. Don’t force the issue if motivation isn’t the issue. Change the set to achieve your goal, scratch the set if needed, adjust it or use it later in the season. If you change the set explain why and try to get them to understand the reason. If you can’t explain it you’ll never be able to teach it. If too much info is written for the set slowly increase the stimulus over time. Flexibility is hard as a coach feels the time constraint to get it all in. Fight that urge and back up, as that will help the swimmers more in the short and long term.

9. IM (Individual medley) and the importance of doing sets in IM order. Training the muscle memory of going from one stroke to the other and breathing patterns. Breathing patterns change from one stroke to the other, as does the timing of each stroke. When switching strokes the swimmer must gain control of the breathing pattern before settling into the race strategy of each stroke. Doing sets in IM order will help train the breathing patterns.

10. Heart rate is a great tool to see if you are sick, stressed, overworked, need more rest or just out of shape. You can measure these many ways by creating a set that helps you maximize heart rate and measuring how long it takes you to recover. Remember you are not a doctor nor should you diagnose yourself from this, it is only a tool that can be used to help you at each phase of training. This tells you about aerobic conditioning, fatigue during the core of training and the amount of resting needed to create race pace or sprinting. This tool definitely helps during taper and resting before meets.Consult a doctor or read up about heart rate, as there are plenty of studies and information on the subject. This will help you with flexibility and changing your workouts when needed.

Videos of Tarzan, Overspeed and partner racing are located on our facebook and Youtube pages.We have 13 dryland warm up and workout videos to use. Please email Brad with any questions

Posted on Leave a comment

7 Week Speed Refinement Program – Week 7, Workout 13 & 14

Workout #13

Warm up:

start into 2 x 300 :15 rest70% 50 kick / 50 swim

2 x 100 choice swim VS by 50 100% – 75% :15 rest

4 x 50 choice swim VS 5 fast strokes / 6 slow strokes50 easy

Set #1

4 x 125 on 2:15

1-2 50 kick @ 75% / 50 5 up tarzan 2 down easy / 25 tarzan sprint

3-4 50 kick @ 75% / 50 tarzan with inc stk cnt / 25 3 up tarzan 2 down easy

4 x 75 choice kick 50 @ 75% / 25 @ 100% :15 rest

4 x 50 on 1:15 sprint kick top or 2nd stroke

100 easy

Set #2 complete this set twice

6 x 25 partner race free kick on :50

50 easy kick into next time thru

100 easy


3 x 50 drag and pull take rest as needed

4 x 100 recovery swim on 1:35

Total yardage = 3,200

Workout #14

Warm up:

start into 300 choice swim @ 70%

6 x 50 choice kick @ 75% :10 rest

Set #1 freestyle paddle swim

4 x 125 on 1:55 VS by 25 100% – 75% (1-2 strokes higher on faster 25)

start each 125 with 25 @ 100%

2 x 125 on 1:40 open turn to get time @ 25

1st 25 @ 75% focus on longer stroke and breathing /100 @ 90%-95%

50 easy

4 x 75 recovery with Tarzan on 1:15

25 6 stroke tarzan sprint break out then easy to wall

25 5 fast strokes / 4 slow strokes

25 easy

Set #2 top or 2nd stroke kick :20 rest

2 x 200 #1 VS by 50 75% – 100%, #2 VS by 25 75% – 100%

150 75 5 fast kicks / 5 slow kicks

Set #3 top or choice swim set – add additional rest if needed or warm down

6 x 100 on 3:00 1-3 top stroke, 4-6 2nd stroke

#1, #4 broken @ 50 for :10 – :20 as needed @ 200 RP

#2, #5 broken @ 25’s for :05 – :15 as needed @ 100 RP

#3, #6 straight goal with +/- :05 from best time from block same strokes as above

100 easy

Total yardage = 2,950

Posted on Leave a comment

7 Week Speed Refinement Program – Week 6, Workout 11 & 12

Workout #11

Warm up: start into 600 choice swim @ 70% 4 x 125 choice stroke :15 rest

75 kick 10 fast kicks / 10 slow kicks

50 swim 10 fast strokes / 10 slow strokes

4 x 100 swim VS by 50 75% – 100% :15 rest

check heart rate twice and keep between 25 – 30

100 easy

Set #1

12 x 25 on :50

1,2,5,6,9,10 tarzan increase arm speed

3,4,7,8,11,12 partner racing free kick

50 easy kick on 1:30

2 x 100 on 2:00 5 up tarzan sprint 4 down easy

50 easy kick on 1:30


2 x 50 drag and pull continuous :20 rest

100 easy

Set #2 complete this set twice

2 x 150 free strong with PADDLES on 2:30

2nd time thru top stroke on 2:45

50 kick (25 @ 100% / 25 @ 75%), open turn to get time into

100 swim broken each 25 for :05 – :15, 1st and 3rd 25 @ 200 RP,

2nd and 4th 25 @ 100 RP

100 easy

Total yardage = 3,200

Workout #12

Warm up:

start into each 6 x 50 choice swim VS by 25 70% – 80%

1-3 no grab start, 4-6 quick start

Set #1 Swim set

rest between sets if needed or adjust send offs

3 x 100 on 1:30 VS by 25 75% – (100% @ 100 RP) top or 2nd stroke swim

100 on 2:30 100 5 fast strokes / 5 slow strokes, 50 easy

3 x 100 on 1:35 top or 2nd stroke swim

#1, #3 VS by 25 75% – (100% @ 100 RP)

#2, #4 @ 500 RP or 400 IM RP with inc stk cnt

100 on 2:30 100 10 fast strokes / 10 slow strokes, 50 easy

3 x 100 on 1:40 top or 2nd stroke swim

#1, #2 VS by 25 (100% @ 100 RP) – 75%

#3, #4 @ 500 RP or 400 IM RP with inc stk cnt

100 on 2:30 100 15 fast strokes / 15 slow strokes, 50 easy

3 x 100 on 1:45 top or 2nd

#1, #3 @ 500 RP or 400 IM RP with inc strk cnt

#2, #4 VS by 25 (100% @ 100 RP) – 75%

100 on 2:30 100 20 fast strokes / 20 slow strokes, 50 easy

Set #2 kick top or 2nd stroke :15 rest

complete this part twice

2 x 75 25 @ 75% (broken for :05) / 50 @ 100%

100 @ 75% into next time thru

complete this kick set once :10 rest

2 x 75 VS 25 @ 75% / 50 @ 100 %

4 x 50 1-2 sprint broken @ 25 for :05, 3-4 @ 75%

4 x 25 5 fast kicks / 5 slow kicks

50 easy

Set #3

6 x 50 on :55 6 stroke tarzan break out each wall then finish 25 easy swim

200 easy

Total yardage = 3,425

Posted on Leave a comment

7 Week Speed Refinement Program – Week 5, Workout 9 & 10

Workout #9

Warm up: start into 400 choice swim @ 70%

start into each 8 x 50 kick on side fly or free/ work fly kick off each wall

1-4 no grab start, 5-8 quick start

50 easy

Set #1 complete this top stroke swim set twice

6 x 75 on 1:10 build to sprint with inc stk cnt each 25

(flyer’s free / fly / free by 25 do fly break out on free 4-6 fly kicks sprint)

6 x 25 on :40 odds tarzan sprint increase arm speed, evens @ 100 RP

50 easy into next time thru

Set #2 kick top or 2nd stroke – complete this set twice

2 x 100 #1 VS by 25 75% – 100%, #2 @ 95%

50 easy kick into next time thru

200 recovery

2,850 yards

Workout #10

Warm up:

400 mix

6 x 25 build swim raise HR

Set #1 Individualized top or 2nd race pace

2 x 200 @ 90% inc stk cnt by 50 or repeat each 100 :10 rest

50 easy

Set #2 Paddle swim top stroke

4 x 100 on 1:15 establish goals @ 90%

4 x 75 recovery on 1:10

4 x 100 on 1:10 odds make send off evens goal speed @ 90%

6 x 50 on 1:00 recovery

Set #3 Speed Work rest as needed

6 x 25 build to sprint kick

6 x 25 odds swim build to sprint / evens build to sprint tarzan

200 recovery

2,900 yards

Posted on Leave a comment

7 Week Speed Refinement Program – Week 4, Workout 7 & 8

Workout #7

Warm up: start into 300 choice swim @ 70%

Set #1

12 x 75 two strokes by 3 x 75 inc stroke count each 25

:10 rest check heart rate once each stroke to determine speedkeep heart rate +/- 24 – 26 50 easy

Set #2

8 x 125

1-4 swim with paddles, 5-8 fins swim/paddles choice on 3:00

1-4 alternate fly(one arm with paddles) / free by 25(3 laps of fly each 125), 5-8 free

1st two 125s of each set last 75 build last 50 sprint50 easy

4 x 25 partner racing free swim on :50

4 x 25 build to sprint 25’s tarzan on :50

100 easy

2,900 yards

Workout #8

Warm up: 300 choice, 6 x 50 swim descend by 2, 6 x 25 build each swim, 50 easy :10 rest

Set #1 alternate top stroke kick / second stroke kick by distance :15 rest

3 x 200 kick VS by 50 75% – 100%

6 x 50 kick 1-3 VS by 25 75% – 100%, 4-6 VS by 25 100% – 75%

150 alternate 25 3 up tarzan sprint 4 down easy / 25 choice swim @ 70%

8 x 25 5 fast kicks / 5 slow kicks

6 x 50 10 fast kicks / 10 slow kicks

2 x 100 15 fast kicks / 15 slow kicks

150 alternate 25 5 up tarzan spring 6 down easy / 25 choice swim @ 70%

100 easy

Set #2 rest as needed

OVERSPEED 4 x 25 2 – top stroke, 2 second stroke

4 x 25, tarzan

4 x 25 on :25 top stroke swim @ 100 RP

4 x 75 recovery on 1:10

3,400 yards

Posted on Leave a comment

7 Week Speed Refinement Program – Week 3, Workout 5 & 6

Workout #5

Warm up: 300 mix @ 70%

6 x 25 each build to 80% :10 rest

Set #1 tarzan set with recovery

complete the part twice

5 x 25 on :45 tarzan focus on increasing arm speed thru-out each 25

25 easy on 1:00 into 2nd time thru

complete this part twice

3 x 25 on :35 3 up sprint tarzan 1 down easy

25 easy on :45 into 2nd time thru

after all above is completed:

6 x 100 recovery swim on 1:35

Set #2 top stroke swim non-free

8 x 25 on :25 @ 100 Race Pace 50 easy

2 x 100 from a push top stroke sprint within :05-:10 of best time

Rest as needed between

200 easy

2,200 yards

Workout #6

Warm up: start into 300 choice swim @ 70%

quick starts into each 2 x 100 choice swim VS by 50 75% – 100%

no grab starts into each 3 x 50 25 choice swim @ 80% / 25 Tarzan @ 90%

(starting drill used to focus on legs only off of the block)

start into 1st 75 4 x 75 on 1:15

25 3 up tarzan 2 down easy /25 5 fast strokes – 5 slow strokes / 25 easy

50 easy

Set #1 second stroke kick

4 x 75 on 2:15

They are all broken at the 50

25 @ 75% / 25 @ 100% (1-4 broken for :05, 5-8 broken for :10) / 25 @ 100%

8 x 25 on :50

1-4 5 fast kicks / 5 slow kicks, 5-8 partner racing same strokes together

50 easy

Set #2 Paddle swim free :30 rest (descend pace based on your starting point)

400 @ 85% hold 1:05 with inc stk cnt by 100

100 descend pace from above 1:03 +/-

300 hold pace from previous 100 with inc stk cnt by 100

100 @ sub 1:00

50 easy

Set #3 free kick

3 x 200 :20 rest

#1 VS by 25 75% – 100%

#2 VS and (broken :05) by 50 75% – 100%

#3 VS and (broken :10) by 100 75% – 100%

100 easy


3 x 25 pull for speed only choice stroke continuous each swimmerrest within reason

200 easy

Total yardage = 3,475

Posted on Leave a comment

7 Week Speed Refinement Program – Week 2, Workout 3 & 4

Workout #3

Warm up: start into 200 choice swim @ 70%

8 x 50 descend by 2 :10 – :15 rest choice swim

50 easy

Set #1 QUALITY :20 rest

8 x 50 odds 25 tarzan / 25 3 up tarzan sprint 2 down easy evens swim 10 fast strokes / 10 slow strokes repeat

50 easy

Set #2 paddle free swim set – monitor heart rate for speed

check heart rate twice within the first two parts of the set

keeping heart rate between +/- 24 – 26 for :10 seconds

The pace should be strong aerobically elevating the heart rate while maintain the pace.

:10 rest for set except when checking heart rate then :10 rest

2 x 175 (check heart rate once)4 x 75 (check heart rate once)2 x 1252 x 100

100 easy


3 x 25 pull for speed only continuous for each swimmer200 easy

Total yardage = 2,350

Workout #4

Warm up: Start into 800 swim alternate choice / IM by 200 @ 70% :15 rest

2 x 300 swim #1 choice, #2 IM, VS by 50 70% – 75% inc stk cnt

2 x 200 swim #1 choice, #2 IM, VS by 25 75% – 80% inc stk cnt

4 x 50 swim one each stroke IM order 5 fast strokes / 5 slow strokes

50 easy

Set #1 top stroke kick :20 rest

5 x 100 #1-2 VS by 50 70% – 100%

#3 sprint

#4-5 VS by 50 100% – 70%100 easy

second stroke kick :20 rest

10 x 50 odds VS by 25 70% – 100%

evens 10 fast kicks / 10 slow kicks

100 easy

3,250 yards