Practice + Pancakes: Michigan Women Work Power + Pullies (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.

In Ann Arbor recently, SwimSwam drove down the road to the legendary Canham Natatorium, which warrants its own video in and of itself (stay tuned). The Michigan women were in the water at 6:30am, and after a light warm up got right into some power stations. There were a whopping 4 different groups, including sprint, mid-D, Distance, and breaststroke, with each group getting some specialized power in.

While workouts are below, I’m going to highlight a couple of my favorite things I saw. First, I loved the double-band pullouts the breaststrokers were doing. High level resistance which forces meaningful motion and connectivity off the wall and through the breakout.

The kick set with fins/sox/weights was another favorite. I love toys. And I think using different ones throughout a set to put your body in all sorts of different positions is good; keeps your body guessing and raises your pain threshold. I’d never seen a team use ankle weights and fins to kick with, and as I mention in the video, I was a big fan.

Lastly, the run dive set up in the dive well was great… because who doesn’t love run dives?

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swim fan

why are they practicing in scy?

Among the plausible reasons:

1) To work on explosiveness over short bursts, breakouts, turns
2) Working within the other demands of the facility
3) Maybe their pulleys only run 25 yards
4) Fear of destroying shoulders by doing pulleys for 50 meters
5) Because they thought it would look better on camera for P&P


We do 50 meters for our buckets for our year round team


We train SCY for our power based workouts, which are three mornings a week. Our pulleys run that way, but more importantly we like to do explosive 25s and underwater work, which a short course set up is perfect for.


great stuff! Thanks for chiming in! and Congrats on the great year! Go Blue!


I’m curious about the colors used on the workouts. Are those standards used by all programs or does each coach use their own. And is there a table somewhere to see what each color represents. Is it a percentage of max effort?

College swimmer

My team had white, pink, red, and blue. Each corresponded to a heart rate zone, with each zone specific to that swimmer’s HR. There are some definitely whacky colors in that workout!


I think there are some worldwide base colors that people seem to recognize, like pink, red, blue, maybe even green. We kick it up a notch, in order from slowest to fastest they are yellow, orange, white, pink, red, blue, brown, green, purple, platinum. Sometimes thats not even enough so we will go at ‘breen’ to bridge the gap from brown to green haha. I’ve heard rumors of gold.


thanks for the info. thats a lot of detail.


Jon Urbanchek’s work, right?



no red, no green… ever


It’s the color your face should be after the rep

College swimmer

Right. That’s the explanation my coaches gave for the colors. It was also simpler than saying “target HR of X-Y” especially when the correlation between HR and effort level would vary from person to person.

Becky D

I’ll say it again: I love these.

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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