Coaches Corner: How DeSorbo Puts UVA Over The Top

by SwimSwam Partner Content 14

February 19th, 2018 Training

Courtesy of RITTER Sports Performance, a SwimSwam partner

Todd DeSorbo isn’t like everyone else and he willingly admitted to that when he was the featured coach in the Coaches Corner.

“I try to simplify everything. I have a hard time with words that are more than one-syllable. So every one of our swimmers, I have a nickname that’s one-syllable. Two at the most if it’s really short and quick.”

And keeping it short and quick was apparent from the first workout Todd started talking through in the Coaches Corner. It was almost like being at a military academy with all the acronyms that filled his workouts.

JMI, SOX and GGO just to name a few.

There were still plenty of recognizable one-syllable words too – BLAST, LAUNCH and MAX.

Todd is still in his first season as the Head Coach of the University of Virginia Swimming & Diving, but the results are already showing that his style of training may just be what’s needed to help UVa crack into the elite ranks of the college swimming programs.

What’s even more interesting about Todd’s training is that as you go from day to day, you might come way with the sense of, “This is it? Where’s the rest of the workout?”

But what you miss if you’re just scanning for lots of black ink to fill up the paper is how almost every single line has a repeating “MAX EFFORT” ending the set description.

Todd admits, “I don’t count yards. I mean you can count the yards that are on the paper, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We want to see a high effort. You can’t do a lot of volume if you’re going at a high effort. I mean you could do it but it won’t look pretty. And I want it to look pretty.”

Don’t be quick to label the training program that Todd runs as “non-traditional.” It’s more that he often takes what is “traditionally” done in training and puts his very unique twist on it.

“Monday morning is pretty much a short power workout for us. It’s a leg driven workout. We come in off of weights and then only an hour in the water. So we get after it pretty quickly.” Todd explains.

And then the twist comes again in that Monday afternoon is also leg driven.

Todd said, “I’m not as worried about taxing their legs as I am about their stroke. Their kick isn’t going to fall apart like their stroke will fall apart. We’re trying to condition their legs and lungs to be able to kick out well in their races.”

It’s being specific in training goals like that, which then translates to meet performance as we saw UVa come out on fire in the prelims to move up in a meet that UVa was heavily predicted to finish no higher than 2nd place.

As creative as Todd’s workouts are, there are still times when a certain set will re-appear.

“I don’t do too many sets repetitively over the course of years or seasons. But this is one set that I do every single year. 20×50 on 2-minutes all out. And it’s a tough one.” Todd went into further explanation of the set in the Coaches Corner.

“It’s a back half of your 100-speed type of set. What I do now is, I tell the guys to go a 21 as many times as you can. And you may not do it on any but try. When you fall off you’ll go 22’s which is ok. But don’t go 23’s, because 23’s are whammies.”

“For girls, go 24 on the first one, as many as possible then just hit 25’s but don’t hit 26’s. This is one set I do every year so I can always compare from year to year. How many 21’s or 23’s did a swimmer go?”

“For example, we had a girl as a freshman she went only one 24 and then nineteen 25’s. This year she went eighteen 24’s and two 25’s. So obviously, you can see that she’s improved.”

Creating an environment that not only promotes fast and aggressive swimming but also allows the swimmers to see their progress will definitely play a major role in Todd lifting UVa into the class of consistently elite college programs.

Having these high goals doesn’t stop Todd from experimenting either.

“If I’m doing something new or trying something different there’s definitely some trial and error. Hopefully it works. It’s all relative on what you’re trying to get out of it.”

During his discussions in the Coaches Corner he talked openly about “stealing” drills from various coaches and swimmers, including Caleb Dressel. One of the most interesting drills in Todd’s workouts – the BOOM/BOOM/POW (BBP) Drill, was adapted from what he saw Coley Stickels doing with Abbey Weitzeil leading up to the last Olympics.

DeSorbo has the aura of a young great coach in the vein of some of the great “sprint” coaches like a Dave Salo, David Marsh or Mike Bottom. Finding a way to get max effort and power out of swimmers through unconventional methods. It will be exciting to see what the coming years hold for Todd and the UVa program.

You can get full access to the training discussions with Todd and all the past featured coaches of the Coaches Corner, including: Dave Salo, Gregg Parini, Brendan Hansen and many more.

Join today so you can continue to grow and develop as a coach!

FREE trial membership to the Coaches Corner


About RITTER Sports Performance: 

RITTER Sports Performance helps swimmers go faster and coaches get better, worldwide. Through our online resources on strength training, stroke technique, swim-training, race analysis or nutritional coaching–RITTER is ready to help you take your swimming to the next level. Are you?

Connect with RITTER Sports Performance:





Apple Podcast

Google Play



RITTER Sports Performance is a SwimSwam partner. 

In This Story

Leave a Reply

7 Comment threads
7 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

this guy gets it.


Can anyone who swims under desorbo or knows him closely attest to this? How highly ranked will UVA be in the next couple of years?

Averaging 23's

I swam under him! They will be amazing! or like the girls will, it will take some years with the men.
I think he needs to tweak the 20×50 set for the UVA Men. Maybe start at 22-23. Starting at/consistently hitting 21’s is for the NC state swimmers, not the UVA!! -unless they were using fins.


Or….based on 50 free meet results maybe the men should just forget their dives and start from a push in the water, looks like the dives are slowing them down


How college swimming is supposed to be!! Seems like they have fun too. Here we go Hoos.

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!