Coach’s Intel: Heartland Aquatics Erik Wiken Shares His Favorite Set

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In today’s Coach’s Intel head coach Erik Wiken from Nebraska’s Heartland Aquatics shares his favorite set. Here it is:

We have a small staff so there is an overlap of coaches going back to back swimming workouts. On Tuesday’s & Thursday’s, there is a break in the action so my assistants can talk to parents from one group/get ready for the next practice. This gives me space to do sets where this group can spread out and we stay spread out while our other groups warm-up and do drills that don’t require as much space (30-45 minutes of 2-3 per lane). The expectation is :10 a part to get as straight a path through the turn as possible. Not recommended with less then :10 a part or 6+ per lane.

This set was done this past week, our 5th week of practice. This is a small group of 12-14 year olds. We spent the first two weeks of the season working solely on technique and kick. Third and 4th week was increasing the workload in swimming, kick intensity while still setting time aside for turns. I built this short set as a means to continue on with our increasing intensity/duration of sets with a technique and turn focus. This came after a 25 minute warm-up and short, 25 minute aerobic free set:

3 Times Through…

4 x 25 @ :35 Fly Swim

#1- Build #2-4- Fast

3 x 50 @ 1:00 Strong Swim (progress to 200IM Pace)

#1- Back

#2- 25BK/25BR (crossover turn!)

#3- BR

4 x 25 @ :35 FR Swim

#1- Fast (100Pace) #2- All Out #3&4- DPS

Round 2: 6 x 50s, 2 of each 1-2: BK 3-4: BK/BR 5-6: BR

Round 3: 9 x 50s, 3 of each 1-3: BK 4-6: BK/BR 7-9: BR

At this point, “strong swim” is approximately 200pace of stroke +:02 sec. Progressing into October the set will move to goal 200IM pace of the stroke and intervals would get tighter if they get to the point of :25 rest per 50 on the 3rd Round. The distances/intervals are such where they can give their focus to swimming well and the room allowing them for clear turns. Intervals should be such to give :10-:15 rest on the 25s and :20 on the 50s. I don’t increase the fly because I just want the exposure to be there, not negatively influence the focus of the set which is BK/BR work or turning into garbage fly. The intervals are conservative now to allow quality at the given stage of the season. I would not go beyond :25 for the fast fly or free intervals for age groupers (keeping the DPS FR at :30-:40 seconds for active recovery).

If I were to expand this set to 400IM, it would be after the swimmer has completed the 9 x 50s @ 200IM pace successfully. Adjusting the intervals according to your group (approx. :10 rest on 25s, :15-:20 on 50s, :20 rest on the 100s) and only advance in # of 100s per round when a swimmer shows they have gotten through 3 Rounds of 3 x 100s. Then moving to Rd 2 & 3 @ 6 x 100s and finally up to the progression below:

3 Times Through…

2 x 25 @ :30 Fly Swim

#1- Build #2-Fast (200 Fly Pace)

1 x 50 @ :50 Fly Swim, 400IM Pace

3 x 100 @ #1&2- 1:40 #3-1:50, 400IM Pace

#1- Back, Negative Split!

#2- BK/BR, 50Fast/25Build/25Fast

#3- BR, Negative Split!

2 x 25 @ :25 FR Swim

#1- Quick Build #2- Fast

1 x 100 @ 2:30 FR Swim

50 ALL OUT + 50 Mod

Round 2: 6 x 100s, 2 of each 1-2: BK 3-4: BK/BR 5-6: BR

Round 3: 9 x 100s, 3 of each 1-3: BK 4-6: BK/BR 7-9: BR

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Nice set, Erik. I gave it to my masters team this morning and it got a lot of thumbs up. We used a 40-second sendoff on the butterfly and freestyle 25s, and a 1:10 SO on the 50s to encourage strong efforts. Focused on legal turns and finishes. Thanks for a fun set!


Thanks for the kind words Barbara, glad they enjoyed it and you were able to modify it to make it work for your masters swimmers.

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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