Practice + Pancakes: Tennessee Men Rock Resisted Relay Starts & Tempo

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.

If you didn’t catch our first Tennessee Practice + Pancakes with the women’s team, you’ve got plenty of time to catch up. Once you have, it’s time to dive in with the men! The UT men were coming off of a weight workout, and applying what they were working in the gym to their skills in the pool. Among those skills was relay takeoffs, but perhaps not in a way you’ve seen before.

The Vols started with resisted relay take offs, strapping into a chord and then simulating the lunge and dive off of the blocks while attached, giving them a little more umpf once they actually stepped onto the real blocks. When that moment occurred, it wasn’t just the relay take off they were working on, as the bulkhead was moved up to make the pool only 17 meters. That way the men could work on having an explosive relay take off, breakout, and turn all in the same 5-7 second period.

Station 2 in the power workout was with buckets, and saw the men strap in and try to hit either 100, 200, or 500 tempo. This wasn’t their first time doing the set however, as the men all knew their stroke count and how much weight they were pulling behind them, with the goal of being able to lower the stroke count and add weight (while still maintaining tempo) throughout the season.

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You have to pay the royalties on that 3rd Eye Blind?


Nah, they’ve made enough money already.


That’s weird that a top-notch program like Tennessee puts a good deal of emphasis on relay takeoffs. On another Swimswam story about club swimmers, I had commented that practicing relay takeoffs is of the utmost importance. Not just for technique sake, but also for team building sake. I had a bunch of dislikes and naysayers. Maybe those naysayers should contact Tennessee and tell them they are apparently wasting their time.


You were saying a few days ago that no matter the quality of high school practices you shouldn’t even try to make it work with club because obviously doing high school relay practice everyday is what makes Olympian’s and college swimmers, not quality practices led by coaches that are coaches(as opposed to a history teacher that swam that one time and thinks sharks and minnows is a main set). Tennessee probably averages 8k-12k easy a day plus dry land before they get to have the fun block parts a couple days a week.

Peter Andrew once told me that when Michael was a wee little bit, and they were still living in South Dakota, and Peter was coaching a club team, because of space limitations and athlete:coach ratio and I don’t remember what else, they sort of just did relay practice all day. Michael Andrew, at 10 years old, went 24.4 in the 50 yard freestyle and 26.5 in the 50 yard fly basically doing relay practice every day. He went 2:05 in the 200 yard free at 9 years old, just doing relay practice all day. I don’t really have a point. But now that this ‘club vs. hs’ argument has spilled over into 4 or 5 different articles, I figured the… Read more »


Yup, life will find a way. “They really do move in herds”


Are the programs still combined or separate?

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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