Practice + Pancakes: Ledecky, Manuel, Neal, Sweetser AM Workout (Video)

SwimSwam wants to give you an inside look at what a normal day-in-the-life looks like for any given swimmer, and how that differs from team to team or city to city. We send our head of production, Coleman Hodges, to be a fly on the wall at practice, then relay what he discovered back to you over pancakes. Or at least breakfast.

Remember that world record that Katie Ledecky set last week in Indy? Well a week before that, SwimSwam was in Palo Alto for practice with Stanford. Here’s the breakdown.

On Thursday mornings, Katie Ledecky and True Sweetser get some good distance training in, while Simone Manuel and Lia Neal do 100 work. This practice is long course, and once it’s over, Neal and Manuel are done for the day. Ledecky and True double in the afternoon, and for Ledecky this practice was added in last semester as her 10th workout of the week. The main work for both groups was as follows:

Manuel/Neal 100 Practice


4×100 @ 1:30 Desc by feel to Strong


12 1/2 fast kick, 25 ez, 25 fast turn, 25 ez, 12 1/2 fast finish (take socks off)

65 @ 2nd 50 tempo + 50 ez

50 @ (2nd 50 tempo + time) + 50 ez

35 @ 2nd 50 tempo + 0 breath last 12 1/2

200 ez

Ledecky/Sweetser Distance Practice


3×300 @ 3:30

Rd 1: pull optional, desc to pink

Rd 2: 0 pull, desc to red


Rd 1: Tempo @ :40, ez @ 1:00

5 @ 1.35 (tempo), 1 ez

4 @ 1.30, 1 ez

3 @ 1.25, 1 ez

2 @ 1.20, 1 ez

1 @ 1.15, 1 ez

Rd 2: Tempo @ :45, Kick @ :55, ez @ 1:00

5 @ 1.20, 1 ez

4 kick, 1 ez,

3 @ 1.20, 1 ez

2 kick, 1 ez

1 @ 1.20, 1 ez

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6 years ago

This was awe inspiring.

remel can do anything
6 years ago

poor true

6 years ago

Just gonna leave this LCM set Zane was super excited about here for comparison…..

Reply to  Nonameswimmer
6 years ago

Woof. Slower 300 interval and still can’t hit 3:03 like Ledecky

Reply to  DMacNCheez
6 years ago

And Ledecky doesn’t seem all that impressed with herself either… doesn’t describe her practice as “Inzane,” just another day at the pool

Reply to  Swammer
6 years ago

She only knows katie so that is who she is comparing. Just like her WRs are only best times. Everyone does best times so her best times just happen to be WR

Reply to  Nonameswimmer
6 years ago


Jim C
6 years ago

At the risk of offending some people with my language, let me say that Ledecky is an animal in practice. Sweetser may be able to stay ahead in practice, but not by the margin one would expect given his better times in competition.

Becky D
Reply to  Jim C
6 years ago

Some people really shine in practice (compared to meets).
Some people really bring it at meets (compared to practice).
Ledecky does both.

Reply to  Becky D
6 years ago

but i would even argue her practice times are better than her competition times.
its just so, shes soooooooo fast in practice that her competition times are “automatically” unreal lol

Jim C
Reply to  anonymoose
6 years ago

I see two possibilities: (1) She has reached a point of diminishing returns where improvement in practice yields less dramatic improvement in competition. (2) We have yet to see what she can do in competition.

Reply to  anonymoose
6 years ago

I’ll also go out on a limb and say it’s more common in females. I swam for a club with whack-fast distance swimmers (three women under 8:30, a few men under 15 mins 1500m) and it was always the women who were torching their pace, while the men never, ever hit it….subsequently being beaten by the girls sometimes. It is a HUGE advantage for the women to train with the men. It’s a great thing for them, however it is certainly frustrating for the men, if they can’t put their mind back in order if they can’t fathom being beaten by someone daily who is just objectively much slower than them in meets. It can be demoralizing especially when they’re… Read more »

Reply to  fit2swim
6 years ago

I’m so curious… what team did you swim for? Only 11 American men have ever been under 15 minutes, so no kidding that that’s a fast distance group!

Years of Plain Suck
6 years ago

Very nice work, Coleman. I liked all of the different camera angles — especially the underwater ones. Some very fast repeat times — impressive! Looks like everyone had fun. You seem to have captured the spirit of the practice!

Fun tidbit: toward the end of the video, if you look in the distance into the other pool, you can see our masters group working out!

Reply to  Years of Plain Suck
6 years ago

Agreed 100%

6 years ago

She just blew one of the best male distance swimmers in the country out of the water. The conversation at the end confirmed something that I’ve heard about true sweetser, that he does so much extra and like never takes a day off. That can’t be the best thing for you can it? Was this just a “bonus practice” that’s why it was just true and the female pros? Also I love Lia Neal and Simone’s strokes. Both just seem so efficient and powerful.

Reply to  Klorn8d
6 years ago

I’m sure True and Kostoff got a good plan.

6 years ago

Cal next?

6 years ago

True Sweetser sure is a fun time! I bet all the girls at Stanford love him!

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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