Coach’s Log: Full Day of Training at Eastern Illinois

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This is my second year at EIU. As a young coach, I feel like I have to prove myself, and in that effort I find myself sometimes getting too creative.  It’s a pretty typical flaw for us young coaches, we always find ourselves listening to other coaches and trying to put too much of what we learn into our program instead of waiting to see if what we are doing works.  The workouts I’m sending are pretty simple and straight forward.  I wanted to send these so that other young coaches could see its ok to be “boring” and that sometimes keeping it simple works.

We don’t have a huge facility here, so we split up into groups with ½ the team practicing a time.  We also have men and women practice together for the most part.  On average, sprint does 5,500, mid distance does 6,500, and distance does 7,000.  We do a lot of power and speed work in the morning for all groups with yardage between 2,000 and 4,000.  The Mid Distance group is then able to go between sprint and distance depending on what each kid swims.

First, let me give some context to the workouts so you can see how they fit into our training plan.  We got done with finals last Thursday.  During finals week everyone has to do 1 practice a day (with an option to do doubles) of either swimming or lifting depending on who you are.  Our goal was to build back up over the last 6 days.

Friday AM: Sprint- Lift 1hr (2000 light swim)  Mid D/Dist- IM Anaerobic Threshold and Power Friday PM:  Max HR  (example: 6×400, 300, or 200 Descend 1-6 all on 6:00).

Saturday:  Meet

Sunday AM:  1 hr lift, 3000-4000 of free and main stroke drills.

Sunday PM: Sprint-  5,500 (3500 kick set and recovery) Mid D- 6,700 (1 IM kick/swim set and 1 long scull/pull set) Dist: 7,500 (same kind of sets as Mid D)

Monday:  See the work outs!!

Tuesday AM: 1 hour lift, 3500-4000  Back/Free Speed (lots of bursting and all out 25’s)

Tuesday PM: Sprint 5000 (basic endurance and Distance per stroke), Mid D- 6500 (3500 kick set/1800 Aerobic/threshold mix), Dist-7000 (3000 Neg. Split/threshold / 3000 straight kick)

Morning Practice

1200 w/ Fins 100 Superman/100 Body Roll/100 Superman/100 10 K Switch/200 Swim

12×25  on :30  15 yd Burst 2 fly/2 Breast  (Sprint does 600 and 12×25)


(Some kids did this free or back)

3x   (6×25  Fly   w/ Bucket  1 swim on :35 1 Kick on :45

(6×25  Fly   no Bucket  1 Swim on :30, 1 Kick on :30

(100    Fly   no bucket  Swim Fast on 2:00

Last round w/ fins


(non IM’ers do Free)

4x   (25  Moose Drill,  FR: Body Roll    on :45

(50 3 kicks/1 Pull, FR: 10 K Switch   on 1:00

(75 2 kicks/1pull,  FR: Long Dog on 1:30

(100 Fast Swim on 2:00

Rounds 1-3 w/ 2 sponges, Round 4 No Sponge


300 Drill/swim (Sprint: last 600 from 1200 warm up)  Warm Down


To explain the warm ups, at our Mid-Season meet I was not happy with our body lines.  We do a lot of body position drills and kicking, but our lines were not good enough for my liking.  Normally about now we transition to a more main stroke focus on kick sets. But after the meet, I felt like we needed keep those sets in our practices.  I got the idea from another coach to put the drills in during warm up that way we could keep those main stroke sets in our practices.  Superman is kicking face down, arms out in front.  Body position is simply head lead kick, with them rolling to the side when they need to breath.  Body roll is with arms at their sides and rolling from side to side every couple of seconds. I normally like doing a more dynamic warm up, and I was worried this wouldn’t get us warmed up enough to do well on a pre-set.  But we’ve noticed warming up this way over the last three weeks that their cores are still getting stronger and are more involved during the rest of practice.  Though their heart rates don’t get up as high, I feel like the challenge of doing the drills properly activates the muscles a little better.

For the morning workouts, we start off the year doing freestyle on a lot of resistance sets, and in November we transitioned to more IM or Main Stroke.  Monday was a Fly and Breast day for the IM group, with everyone else doing more main stroke and free.  I like pairing up fly and breast because breaststroke is becoming more of a body driven stroke than leg driven.   I feel like doing fly before breaststroke gives them a better feel for that body driven stroke (hips are up higher, core more engaged, and more awareness of the upper body being involved).  At the beginning of the year and during this transition part of the season I liked the idea of doing drills while doing resistance sets.  We use sponges instead of parachutes.  1 sponge is like doing the smallest of the parachutes, but it feels different.  Since it soaks up the water, it’s more like pulling a small weight than having resistance like from the buckets. It adds another challenge to those drills, and I am a firm believer that you need strength and power within technique.  Mid Distance and Distance did this practice and then they lifted.  The sprint group lifted first, that is why their warm up was shorter and their warm down was longer.   For the sprint group, we are doing two cycles this year with a month of anaerobic power like this, a month of a mixture of this, racks, and speed, and then a month of speed and power.


Distance PM

2×600  #1 100 Body Position/100 Swim              #2 100 Body Roll/100 Swim


4x   (5×100            1 Kick   1:45

1 75/25 1:30/1:35

1 50/50 1:25/1:30

1 25/75 1:20/1:25

1 Swim 1:15/1:20

20×200 5 on 2:25 (2:35), 10 on 2:20 ( 2:30), 5 on 2:15  (2:25)

800  pull 3-5-3-7 by 50


Mid Distance PM

2×600  #1 100 Body Position/100 Swim              #2 100 Body Roll/100 Swim



4×100  on 1:45  12 ½ U-h20 w/ fins 1 swim, 1 kick

16×75  on 1:30  25 U-H20 / :05 rest / 50 Swim 12 ½ U-H20   (No Fins)

8×100  on 1:45  12 ½ U-H20 w/ fins  All Kick


4×100  on 1:45  2 pull outs of walls  1 Swim/1 Kick

16×75  on 1:30  25 U-H20 pull outs / :05 Rest / 37 ½ Breast/12 ½ Free (do pull out drill)

8×100  on 1:45  Kick No Board, 2 pull outs off walls


20×150 5 on 1:55-2:10, 10 on 1:50-2:05, 5 on 1:45-2:00

400  Drill/Swim Warm Down


Sprint PM

2×600  #1 100 Body Position/100 Swim              #2 100 Body Roll/100 Swim



2×100  on 1:45  12 ½ U-h20 w/ fins 1 swim/1 kick

8×75    on 1:30  25 U-H20 / :05 rest / 50 12 ½ U-H20  (No Fins)

4×100  on 1:45  12 ½ U-H20 w/ fins  All Kick


2×100  on 1:45  2 pull outs off walls  1 Swim/1 Kick

8×75    on 1:30  25 U-H20 pull outs / :05 Rest / 37 ½ Breast/12 ½ Free (do pull out drill)

4×100  on 1:45  Kick no board, 2 pull outs off walls


20×25  on  :30  8 Kick All out / 2 easy swim


20×100 on 2:00  Fastest Avg  “Critical Speed”    (10 Stroke/10 Free or IM does 5 of each)

20×25  on :30  3 Drill/2 Swim


We then split up into our normal groups in the afternoon.  Distance had a pretty tough workout.  We do a couple of straight kicking sets with the distance group, but we mostly do kick/swim sets with them as I am looking for them to improve at kicking while they swim.  Then the main set  (20×200) was meant for them to hold their Aerobic pace times through the first 15 and then do the best they can the last 5.  We did really well as a group, with a couple of them descending down to below their pace times and 2 or 3 getting down to their Anaerobic Threshold times.

Mid Distance had the same focus and results on their set (20×150), but I would say their main set was the stroke work in the first set.  We do a lot of underwater work with about 2 sets a week, but this set was probably one of the harder sets we’ve made them do.  When we do sets like this I put a stretch cord across the lanes and they have to kick out underneath it off each wall.  Last year we did a lot of 25’s underwater, and we did them really well, but didn’t see very big changes in races.  I like what we’ve seen this year with our improvements by implementing more underwater work within a normal set.

The sprinters used a shortened version of that pre-set as more of an activation set.  I wanted them to get their heart rates up pretty high and get some blood flowing to their legs.  We’ve been doing a lot of our speed kick sets at the end of practice, but it’s about that time of the year where we move them to the beginning of practice so that they are able to work them a little more.  After that underwater set, they were ready to go and did pretty well.  We then did a high end threshold set.  We use the term critical speed where their goal is to hold +8-10 seconds over their 100 times.  We started off the year doing 75’s and have slowly built up to the 100’s.  We’ll do 100’s a couple more times, but for the most part we will be doing front end work the rest of the year.

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Paul Yetter

Thanks Elliot. Awesome workouts. I like the “Critical Speed” stuff as a way to train fast without failing strokes, and your attention to race-specific details in your lighter stuff (double pullouts, etc).


Didn’t you have a couple good summit league champs recently, such as Ken Tiltges? Where is he now?

Elliott McGill

Thanks Paul. Jeantuehl, Ken is at Utah now and did really well at Pac-12’s last year.

About Garrett McCaffrey

No one lives the sport of swimming like Garrett McCaffrey. A Division I swimmer who spent 4 years covering the sport as a journalist, now coaches club swimming and competes as a masters swimmer, Garrett truly lives the sport of swimming. After graduating from University of Missouri’s award winning journalism program …

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