Coach’s Intel: Dave Hedden of the Joliet Y Jets Shares a Set to Improve DPS

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.

In today’s Coach’s Intel Dave Hedden, head coach of Joliet, Illinois’ Joliet Y Jets Swim Team shares a set that is designed to improve athletes’ distance per stroke when swimming at race speed. Dave has been head coach of the Jets since 2005, and is ASCA Level 3 certified.

Here is the set and how he uses it:

One of the main focus points for us this year is to improve distance per stroke at race speed.  One of the sets I am having my kids do this season is a 500 free efficiency test and 400 IM efficiency test:


  • 500 freestyle for time (or 400 IM for time)
  • Count stroke cycles every other 50 on all the odd numbered 50’s
  • Get HR immediately after the finish

I take their total stroke count, multiply it by 4 to weight it, then add it to their time in seconds to come up with a score (a lower score is better).  I keep the results in a spreadsheet that automatically calculates their score.

Their HR is used to compare intensity from test to test but is not calculated into their score.  The goal is to continue to lower their score throughout the season.  We do an efficiency test every Monday, alternating between 500 free and 400 IM, so they repeat each test every 2 weeks.

I like that it gives them a couple different ways to improve, and I weighted the stroke count pretty heavily (an improvement in stroke count by 1 stroke is equivalent to a time improvement of 4 seconds) to encourage them to swim with longer strokes since that is our big focus.

In future seasons, I may weight it less.  You can also control things by establishing targets for individuals (“keep it under 5:45” or “no more than 70 strokes”), particularly for those who don’t self-regulate that well.  I’ve seen great results so far.  Eight weeks in (4 tests so far), I’m seeing most kids swimming faster times with fewer strokes than their first test.

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I understand and completely get what the test set is and what it’s for but I’d like to know what you do during the week to help your swimmers improve their scores?

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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