SwimmersBest Drill of the Month: Countdown Sprints

Torrey Hart
by Torrey Hart Off

December 20th, 2019 Drill of the Month

SwimSwam thanks SwimmersBest for sponsoring “Drill of the Month.”  This is a SwimSwam recurring feature that brings drills and idea submissions from various creative and innovative coaches all over the world.

December’s Drill of the Month comes to us from coach Jonathan Kaplan at SwimRVA.

SwimRVA is a non-profit in Richmond, VA that serves the community by providing access to quality affordable aquatic programming. Its mission is to elevate swimming in the Richmond region making water safety and aquatic fitness more accessible to all. The goal is to “Drownproof Richmond.” Its main pillar of water safety is accomplished through its Learn-to-Swim program which provides cost-free swim lessons to second graders in the region.

SwimRVA has provided over 70,000 free swim lessons since opening its doors in 2012. On top of this, SwimRVA offers unique workforce development programs like the “Swim for Life” program which takes high school students with little to no swimming ability and helps them become lifeguards through a semester long program. If they pass the final test, SwimRVA will hire them on the spot.

SwimRVA’s impact doesn’t stop with water safety. Sports tourism and competitive swimming is also a big driving force for Richmond aquatics.

The SwimRVA Rapids Swim Team started in 2014 with only 30 kids. In the Fall of 2018, the SwimRVA Rapids hired head coach Jonathan Kaplan. They became an official USA Swimming sanctioned team and immediately blew up to over 280 kids. This season, it grew to 440 members. Kaplan brings over 21 years of coaching experience to the team, and one of the drills he does is called the “Countdown Sprints.”

How to perform Countdown Sprints:

“When creating a lactate tolerance set, the staff at SwimRVA is always looking for fun and creative ways to accomplish the same goal.  Let’s face it, training in the anaerobic state to prepare the body to learn how to convert energy efficiently in the glycolytic energy stage can and should be very difficult to experience,” SwimRVA explained to SwimSwam. “When racing in that state, the mind and body often make mistakes, specifically heading into the approach of a turn as well as slowing racing tempo coming out of it. The goal with the countdown sprints is to put the athletes through turn after turn in hopes that it will mimic the speed and approach they will need heading into their final turn of a 100 yard event.  And even when they are hurting and out of breath, they have learned how to get their stroke right back up to speed for those final 25 yards while staying calm mentally.There are lots of ways to do this, but the countdown sprints are a fun and challenging way to go about it!”

  1. Start by pushing off the wall.  It helps to have a lane to yourself.  Swim as fast as you can for 9 strokes.
  2. Perform a flip turn in the water and race back as fast as you can for 8 strokes.
  3. Do another flip turn and go for 7 strokes, then 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Check out the drill below:


SwimmersBest is leading the way for the future of swim training equipment.  The company offers a broad range of solutions for improving stroke technique, kick technique, and breathing technique.   They provide swimmers, coaches, and teams with the tools they need to balance technique training with conditioning training.  By combining the best drills with the best tools, the SwimmersBest products give swimmers instant tactile feedback so they can adjust their technique efficiently.   The old way of having coaches constantly remind swimmers of their individual problems has proven to offer very little improvement in technique.  All SwimmersBest products are designed to constantly ‘talk to the swimmers’ so they can feel the problems and make corrections.   This unique approach means the swimmers are given negative feedback for incorrect stroke technique, which compels the swimmers to quickly correct the problem on their own. With a constant flow of new innovative product designs, SwimmersBest is a company that will continue to deliver solutions you need.

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About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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