Kate Ziegler – Distance Training by Ray Benecki (2005)


Introduction: I am here to introduce our speaker for this afternoon, Ray Benecki. My first exposure with Ray is really through his swimmer Katie. I had the privilege to be the head coach for the short course Worlds in October last year – for the women’s side and the overall team. We started communicating back and forth in the final couple of months previous to the meet. I was just awed by his expectations of what he wanted for her and what she was going to be doing and then to have the athlete – I think at that time she was 15 or 16, come there and in a very adult environment. The majority of my athletes on that team were between 21 and 30 and here I have this 16 year old girl who had a plan, had a focus, had a purpose and nothing was going to take her off it – in a race – in the warm-up pool and probably the most important thing people. When she was trying to figure out how we were going to get her workouts in after her races because she had to stay with the team the rest of the week. Her events were early in the meet. She had no relays and she had workouts to do which we were inside the arena. We didn’t have that kind of pool time so we took her over to IUPUI and were getting up very early in the morning and she just stayed on task and obviously, you have seen the year that she has had. Perseverance – its got to come. Focus – she has it. Relentless – all you have to do is watch her race and I have to commend the coach that has developed all of those characteristics. I am honored to have you speak for us today – and I think that we will gain a lot from what he has to share this afternoon.

Ray Benecki: Yes, short course World Champs was very interesting. I decided I would fly up on the day that Kate was going to swim her 800 free and got online about a week before that and tried to get tickets to the event. I thought it would be really clever and get a seat right above the warm-up pool where she would be warming up because that would probably be where I would have the most interaction with her. She had her phone and I had my phone and all of that, so I got there and there is a tent over the warm-up poo. So, I have these seats on top of a tent and bad view of the pool, but you know, humor and that is basically what it is – the experiences, being able to adapt, being able to cope, getting your proper warm-ups and getting your training in, in between your events. If you are the last event of the meet you know what you are going to do the first five days of the meet and so on. I have also learned that – I have learned more from Kate and some of my other athletes over the last three or four years than I probably learned from the first 20 or 25 years I spent in coaching. I was just reminded of that during the introduction.

The title of this talk is training a distance swimmer and it could easily be called sprint to distance – very similar to this morning’s talk. This really sets everything up in our program. Take your speed and apply it over your distance. I am blessed with Kate having initial speed when she was young and she is willing to train that way. And she is also willing to apply that over her distance races. So, because we are coming from that approach, we are basically training her two ways:

1. How do we increase her endurance while we are also trying to increase or maintain her speed?
2. Also, because she has the speed and she can sprint, we believe in a very aggressive front end to our races. Because I feel that Kate can use her speed in the beginning of the races. What is going to happen after 700 of the 800. She is going to be just as tired as all of the other athletes in the pool. She is probably not going to be able to draw on her strength and sprint so the aggressive front end kind of fits in with that kind of athlete that I have.

Now, this was going to be the end of the speech this morning, but I have to throw it up now. We did a comparison – we did a ratio of Kate’s 1500 over her 400 time – that is the first row across. We did a comparison of the ratio of her 1500 over her 800 and the 800 over the 400 and the lower the ratio the better. So Kate is actually – has better ratios than the other Janet Evans in the second column and the third column Brook Bennett. We also took the top ten all time and just averaged it out. Now there are different swimmers on all those lists, but we took the top 10 and averaged it out. Now, this either suggests that Kate’s 400 and 800 are going to get faster to fit in line with the higher ratios or that she has a really good endurance base and maybe better than some of the other swimmers.

So, this just kind of fits in – we are trying to conquer two things at once. We are trying to maintain and develop her speed and we are also trying to maintain and develop her endurance. I also like to tell Kate, “you are not going to set a zone record or you are not going to set an age group record or you are not going to set a world record at the touch. You are not going to be behind for 795 yards and then get ahead of the record on the last 5.” Meaning that if she is ahead of the pace at the 200 or the 300 mark she has a better chance of staying ahead of that pace the whole way through her race than if she waits until the end. At least that is my philosophy and Kate buys into that pretty well.

There were a couple of comments at World Champs this summer – one comment was Wow – she is burying the field – she is too far ahead at the 400. That is not a good position for her to be in and somebody else pointed out. No, this is the swimmer who won the 1500 – that is exactly the position I would want her to be in half way through the 800. So that is a little bit about our philosophy, speed to distance – speed to distance and some of the ratios.

Somebody asked me this morning – are we doing anything different this year because it seemed like she really spiked this year – she really exploded. She took a lot more time off than she has in previous years and the answer was no. We realized we were pretty close to where we wanted to be so we emphasized just a little bit more on the speed and that was all it took to get her a little bit faster. We believe that if she improves half a second on her 50 it is going to ripple all the way up to her 1500. Half a second on the 50 should show up as a 7 ½ second improvement on her 1500, if we are training the right way and we are sticking to our plan. We try to use speed at every practice. We have been in the water now for two weeks. They had two – three weeks off in August and we started the last week in August.

So this is wrapping up our second week and from Day 1 we started with some sprint work. We did four 50’s on the 35 seconds and she was going 28’s. So, we try to have a little speed in each practice – not a lot, but we try to keep it in those practices. Somebody asked me – well, what is your season plan coach? Do you have a season plan? I had a hard time coming up with material for this talk. And then I fell back on our notebooks – on our logs. All the swimmers, Kate especially, does a really, really good job of this. They have notebooks – spiral notebooks – they get their practices a week in advance – unless they seem to have a hard time dealing with knowing what the practice is in advance and then I will hand it to them after the practice is over. But they have a log and on it they are encouraged to write down their splits – their times – how they felt – what affected their practice. There is a lot that goes into their notebooks.

Kate has been able to keep really good notebooks for four years so I was able to dig back through her notebooks for four years to come up with the material for this talk. Because it is not one thing that Kate does, it is not two, it is not five, it is not ten. I think it is a whole bunch of different things and the way that it is just all wrapped up. We use the notebooks to measure progress from year to year. For instance, you will see some of the intervals will get tougher as the years have gone by. We use the notebooks to gauge progress as the season goes on. These first two weeks I haven’t been too awfully specific with Kate and the other swimmers in the group about the times that they have been holding. Except about twice a week we will do comparison practices where they had something very similar the previous year and we want them to swim faster. So a couple of days ago, for instance, we had three 300’s and then four 50’s freestyle sprint and then some breaststroke kick and we went around that three times. Last year Kate’s last set of 300’s was 3:08 – 3:05 – 3:01 – this is yards. This year she went 3:02 – 3:01 – 3:01 and that is what we were looking for. We were looking for that practice to be faster than the previous year. So, each year builds on the year before.

In addition, there are some things we do that progresses as the year goes on. For instance, this week, except for that swim, I am really not mentioning to her much about her pace. We have something we call cruise which we do more and more and more as the season goes on. My definition of cruise is 3 ½ seconds off her 1650 pace. So the first 1650 pace is 57 and I want her cruising at 1:00.5. If she improves 7 or 8 or 9 seconds in her 1650, then the cruise adjusts accordingly. This couple of weeks I have not been mentioning that. As the season goes on she will be starting more and more of her descend sets at cruise. If she is doing negative split we are going to want the first half of it at cruise – the second half faster. If she is doing a long traditional distance set of a 3,000 swim – three 1,000’s – something like that – we want the average to be at a minimum cruise so the speed, the quality does increase as the year goes on.

We have a lot of tremendous variety in our program. None of the practices are really very similar as the week goes on. We throw a lot of everything because we are trying to train speed and we are trying to train endurance so we will, and we will get into that. I reckon I am going to run out of time today because I ran out of time the first talk. I noticed that there was a slot open at 4:15 so if whatever we don’t get to by then I am willing to be here and continue it because I know we are not going to get through it all.

We do a lot of discussion in practice. I read a lot. I read a lot to the group. I read to them about some of the Olympic swimmers from the past who overcame adversity of some kind. Kate broke her right foot and she broke a toe on her left foot. She also has asthma so she knows about dealing with adversity. I read the sports page in the morning about a football game or a baseball game or stuff like that that might have some competitive value to the team. I read a lot of the articles out of swimming magazine or the different publications that there are because this is my way of preparing them mentally and we discuss it too. We will discuss pace at practice. We will discuss splits that they want to be going two months down the road. There is a lot that we do at practice that is more than just in the water.

We make our practices harder in several ways from year to year – either
1. we will toughen the interval.
2. we will add a little bit more to the main set.
3. we will expect them to swim faster.
4. we will toughen the interval and expect them to swim faster and add to the main set.
5. we will put specific pace on the set so there are a lot of things that we do from year to year.

Each year builds on the previous year. Swimmers who are new to my program – it takes them about a year to build up – kind of like the data base that they are comparing against for the next year. It also allows us to modify the practices from year to year, based on how we feel. Jon Urbanchek, for instance, visited us in February of last year and we incorporated a little bit of the rainbow system that he employs. A lot of what we were doing was very similar to it. This was just a different way of being very specific about pace and descending and holding specific times so it gave it a little bit different slant. And that is about it for the beginning.

Now, as I said, we I went through her notebook and I wanted to give you some of the ideas of different things that we do in her training and there is not one thing or five things or ten things that I can point my finger at or I would. I try to give each of these slides a little bit of a flavor or a theme so the first one is actually how the notebook also is kind of is very valuable to the kids because they could express their artistic talents. That came out of Kate’s notebook – the schmedle beetle – I just thought I would throw that up there. All of these slides are going to be from Kate’s notebook, except for one which will be very obvious a little bit later on if we get to it.

So I call this first set of slides because we are going to go back three or four years and this is the traditional distance set. This is what she did in 2003. She wrote her times down – note that the 1500’s just for picking out that line – was on the 17:30. Go to the next slide Mike – this was a year later – her 1500’s were on the 17 minutes. Not only that, but she also – I had recorded her times from the previous year and then she recorded her times that year and the goal was to make them faster.

Next slide is two years ago and actually that was this year and her 1500’s were on the 16:45. Next year they are probably going to be on the 16:30. Once again, her best times have been recorded from the previous year and her goal was to make them faster. In addition, I told Kate that since you are a second faster per hundred on your 1650 – then we want your total 30 seconds faster on your 3,000 – 15 seconds faster average on your 1500’s and 10 seconds faster on each of your 1000’s. And she was pretty close to that because we maintain that practice mirrors your performance. One of the things that Kate discovered about three years ago was how to get very, very consistent between her practices. She had a time adjusting to it, but she is very consistent between her practices. She doesn’t have great ups and downs and I think that is one of her keys.

One of the other keys is that she seems to be able to recover between her practices pretty well and that was one of the attributes that Janet Evans had was that she recovered pretty well from practice to practice. We really don’t break her down to the point that it takes more than 24 hours or a day and a half to recover and we also build in recovery sets – either the beginning – the middle or the end of practice or the next day. So, that was what I called the traditional distance.

The the next group of slides is one I call guaranteed. I told the kids with this guaranteed rest you get out of it what you put into it. You should be adamant at cruise pace. This one we used at the beginning of the summer – 800, 1600, 2400, 1600, 800 – 15 seconds rest. We actually put that in because I felt like we were doing way too much short stuff three years ago. Two years ago so I wanted to put more long swimming in. Then as the summer goes on a week later or a week and a half later – they will do 700, 1400, 2100, 1400, and 700 and the total gets less as the summer progresses, but once again – it is guaranteed rest and obviously the kids that put a lot into it will get a lot out of it. So – whip through the next two or three there – all right? 400, 800, 1200, 800, 400 okay?

Next, we don’t do a lot of test sets, but the next group of slides will be a test set. We used to do the standard test sets – 24 100’s on the 1:30, 24 200’s on the 3 minutes – things like that. We got away from that because we started putting more and more quality into our practice so they were getting the same effect by just swimming with the sets that we had hard. However, we do have some and this is an early season test set that we do where they go a 3,000 meters – 30 seconds rest – 2,000 – 20 seconds rest and a thousand. We compare that from year to year. In 2000 – well 2001 was the first time Kate swam it. She was 37:59 on her 3,000. 2002 she was 36:40. She didn’t swim it the last couple of years. I think her foot was bothering her in 2004 or something came up, but that is going to be this Sunday when I get back. And this is one I actually handed it out to them in advance so they do know what was coming so that is a typical – we will do that once a year.

I also figured that if you do enough timed swims and you compare them to the previous year in a way those are also test sets. This is what I call a mind grinder and we did this one Sunday. You could maybe say this is the traditional distance set too: 14 100’s, 14 200’s, 14 400’s, 14 200’s and 14 100’s. After 7 400’s they had a 5-10 minute bathroom/snack break and I tried to vary the interval. I don’t want to put it all in the 1:05 so we did one on the 1:10, one on the 1:05, one on the 1:10 and two on the 1:05, one on the 1:10, three on the 1:05, one on the 1:10 and four on the 1:05. Then that same pattern repeated for the 200’s and the 400’s and back down. So, that one is a little bit different from any of the others that we have shown.

Next group Mike – I call this one higher quality. We usually do this in the springtime. This was in 2001, so this is one of the very, very first times she did it. She didn’t quite do it all because she was brand new to the group. She also wrote down – log her comments so that we could go back and look about it. She wrote that her muscles were very sore and did as good as she could.

Now, this one is not just the traditional distance, but we also wanted some fast swimming in it so it was a 2500 free, followed by eight 25’s and they were supposed to really crank it and get a good rhythm going and work it hard; and then it was a 500 free, followed by eight 125’s and once again the – the 125’s were really hard. In the middle of the page there is a 2000 freestyle followed by eight 50’s free, really hard and then a 1000 free, followed by eight 100’s. So, we threw in some sprinting into that practice to try and increase the quality. Also, that year, her first year she did it – she did 2500 for instance on the 29:10.

The next one in this group Mike – the next year the 2500 was on the 28:20 and the next year the 2500 was on the 27:05 which happens to be a 1:05 base. So, we were also recording the times from the previous years and her goal was to try to beat the times from the previous year as the intervals were getting tougher. We left the shorter stuff the same because the point of that was to get some really high stress – some sprinting – some really top quality in there. And then we have one more – in this last year – this last spring when we did it the 2500 on the 26:15, which was a 1:03 base. She actually swam it 25:52 which was her best over the previous four years. So that is an example of how we really don’t have any one thing that fits into a pattern, but we try to mix it up and throw some sprinting at her every day.

This one I call tougher intervals. Each year the intervals got a little bit tougher, but it is shorter sets. So the first year she did this five 500’s on the 6 minutes. Then we had a little recovery built in and then we did six 400’s and we had a little recovery built in. Then we had seven 300’s and once again – we had a little recovery built in. So as we went down we did five intense things. I found out that in order to increase the quality, I was getting better results out of not having a four or 5000 yard set with a lot of high quality and I was having better luck getting the quality in with shorter sets and recovery built in. So each of the years that went on beyond that year the intervals on the 500’s and the 400’s and the 300’s got tougher. She recorded her times and I also recorded her times. All of a sudden her times started showing up from the previous year which gives her an idea of what she needs to be.

The next one is called multiple sets and is basically the same theme as what we were hitting on. Instead of having the mind grinder type of set where it was a 14,000 yard main set – we had a 4000 main set, a 3000 main set and a 2000 main set, but the intervals got tougher – or the intervals got easier as we went through it so that the end of it was high quality. For instance – the 800 – the goal the first year under 9:20 was just to make it. Then the two 600’s were on the 7:15 which was a little bit easier interval and we wanted a little bit of correspondence in time so her time improved a little bit on that. Her base picked up and then the next one was three 400’s under 5 minutes. That was hard and then the four 200’s to finish that first set off – under 2:35, and it was sprint. And the next time we went through it I switched it around. In the middle I switched it around where we start out with the sprint and then the intervals got tougher as we went deeper into the set. We don’t always build into – we don’t always ease up on the intervals as the sets go on – we sometimes do the opposite.

So the next couple of slides Mike – as the years went by I recorded her times and they also got faster from year to year. Also the intervals got tougher because that year her 800 was on the 8:40 and the goal was to make it. Not only did I want her to make it – I didn’t record a time on her, but her instructions were also nothing slower than cruise because this was in February so her 800 – going 00.5 – I really wanted to see an 8:04, although I wasn’t going to jump up and down if she didn’t do it, that was the good guideline. Once again, I remember doing the set with her in February and I said “This first set is 4000 yards. If you are a second faster in your 1650 than you were last year (which she was) we would like to see a 40 second total improvement on the entire set.” She came very close to that. Then the second set was 3,000 and once again, we wanted to see a 30 second improvement, which she did. And then the last set was 2000 and I think she actually improved on that a little bit more.

Next one is what I call specific targets: we gave her specific targets to hit. We actually did this in the 2 ½ hour warm-up that they had the first afternoon of sectionals about three summers ago or two summers ago. So she did this. It was a 2 ½ hour session and then she did her meet warm-up. Then she swam the 1500 that night and needless to say – she was pretty much toast. But as the 100’s went further into the set the targets got faster and faster. We do this about once a year.

We throw targets at the top group similar to this. Let’s go cruise on this set. Let’s go 1650 pace on this next set. Let’s try to hit 1000 pace on this next set. It is just a different way of putting targets out there for them to try to reach. In Jon Urbanchek’s rainbow system it could be blue, purple, white, red, pink. That is a different kind of a target system.

Now, as the years went by, notice that practices were getting more and more complex, and there were layers and layers to them. I discovered that keeping it simple stupid was probably a pretty easy way of getting a lot out of them and we are actually starting to do more and more of this. And we are going to do this about once every other week this year. Six 600’s, the odd are straight, the evens are – the first – #2 is broken at the 150’s for ten seconds. #4 is broken up to 100’s for ten seconds. #6 is broken at the 75’s for ten seconds and there is 10 seconds rest throughout everything. After the straight 600 we take 10 seconds rest and we go into the 600 that is broken. After the six 600’s they take ten seconds rest and go right into the six 300’s, and once again #2 is broken at the 150’s, #4 at the 100’s and #6 at the 75’s. Their instructions will – Kate’s instructions will be: lets go cruise on the straight ones and lets see what we can do about how close we can come to pace on the broken ones so this.

I believe in using as many different energy systems in practice and I also believe in using as many different energy systems in sets in a practice. So, this one here – the broken 150’s, 100’s and 75’s that she was doing had a much faster pace – she was in a whole different energy zone than she was on the straight ones. Not only that, but the third straight 600 that she did or the 300’s broken at the 150’s – because of the 600’s that preceded those – the energy zone that she was when she was in at the first 600 is completely different when is into her first 300. Because a walk preceded it we are throwing as many different things out to her as possible to try to get the conditioning and the endurance and the speed.

This next group of slides is more towards pace. There different ways that we try to throw pace into practice. The first one is the obvious – the descending pace. I am sure all of you have seen sets like this before – 800, 600, 400, 200, right into the 600 and the 400, 200 – right into a 400, 200 – right into a 200 and each part is negative split. The pace gets quicker as the distance gets less. When she gets into the second line, starting with the 600, the 600 needs to be faster than the 600 above it. When she gets into the third line, which starts out with the 400, the 400 needs to be faster than the 400 in the second line and so on as she goes through this set. Her times are recorded and they were compared to the previous year and it gives her a standard to shoot for and that was a descending pace with probably several different layers to it.

The second one is specific to the back half. We will tell them that we want to – in the middle of the page you will see four 400’s freestyle under 5 minutes – negative split and descend and we want the second half at our 1650 base. The second 200 – second half – at her 1650 pace so she is going to descend these by putting more and more effort into the first half and still be very specific about the pace that she is going to be going on the second half. This is a monster set. This is very, very hard. She manages to do a pretty good job on this, but now we are talking about for the 1650 pace, which is .57 for her. We are talking about coming back at 1:54 on the second 200 of the 400 free. So traditionally, from previous years she might go 2:00, 1:54, 1:58, 1:54, 1:57, 1:54 and then the last 400 go 1:55 or 1:56 and 1:54. If she goes faster than pace I do not tell her to slow down.

Then, we do that again later in the practice and we go four 400’s again. This time we are looking for the second half to be at the 1000 pace so the way she is going to descend it is to put more and more into the first half and she has to be hitting her 1000 pace on the second 200. And then later on in the practice – at the bottom of the page – we’ll actually see how close she can come to a 500 pace. That is a different variation on that. This time it is kind of early in the season towards the end of November. We will give them three different shots at it.

Next slide – I call this Specific First Half With A Twist. It is negative split many different ways. My group really hates this. We will do 800, 600, 400, 600, 800 or we will do 1600, 1200, 800, 1200, 1600. The 800 will be negative split. The 600 will be negative split. The 400 will be negative split. On the 600 each 200 gets faster so she is making three 200’s get faster. I like to call that double negative split, but it is not. You get my point. And then on the 800 at the end each 200 gets faster so she is swimming four 200’s back to back and each 200 needs to get faster. We started doing this a couple of years ago and I am very pleased with the results on this. It really gets her working on her speed a lot towards the end. It keeps them honest because if you have to do four 200’s and each one gets faster the tendency is to go a little bit off on your first 200. Then on the second 200 you blast it and if you have two more 200’s after that – they need to get faster. You have to be pretty honest and know what you are doing. Also, I will throw out the challenge to Kate that you need to start the first 200 out at cruise so I am not going to take 2:05, 2:03, 2:01 and 1:54. I am looking for 2:01 and then they get faster from that. So that is why I call it the specific first half with a twist.

This is a more traditional look to this next round. It is 15X300 free on the 3:45 This is a very nice interval with lots of rest and once again a whole different approach. A different kind of a set with an amount of rest thrown in using a different energy system and I ask them to descend one through five. I wrote down their times. Next year I want them to start out faster than. I want them all to be faster than they were the previous year. In addition, we will do a variation of this practice where each round is supposed to get faster within those fifteen 300’s, she likes this practice. She gets a lot of rest.

We might do something with a lot of rest – maybe once a week – once every two weeks and then once again, this was in February. Towards the middle of February her high school championships were coming on and her senior championships were coming up and zones or sectionals. So we were trying to focus a little bit more on the quality at that point in the season. We have this from year to year – the interval doesn’t change. Her times just got faster. The last year she did it she started out 3:07, down to 2:57 on her first round of five, and 3:04 down to 2:57 on her second round of five, then 3:04 down to 2:52 on her third round of five.

Early in the long course season we will go a little ladder with three 100’s, three 200’s, three 300’s, three 400’s and then back down. The base for long course is 1:15 and they are supposed to descend 1-3 and then do it all over again. Hopefully they may even be stronger back down so that their last set of 200’s and the last set of 100’s are faster than on the way up. Then as the season progresses the interval will ease up so they will be on the 1:20 base and then the 1:25 base. So we are giving her a little bit more rest as the season progresses and the quality is starting to improve as the season progresses. This is one that I refrain from recording to death because I try to just record two practices a week – anything more than that is a little overwhelming so it is basically up to her to remember what she did and to try to do better the next time. So this was the same set on the 1:20 base about two weeks later and then we will do it again later in the summer – 1:25 base – about a month or three weeks later and so on.

Descend each set: this is basically a 500 followed by four 100’s freestyle. The 500 was on the 6:15 and the four 100’s are on the 1:20. Once again, we threw the four 100’s in there for quality. And we go through this set three times. The second time through we want the 500 and the four 100’s faster. The third time through we want the 500 and the four 100’s faster again. On this set Kate wrote down: 5:10, 5:05, 4:57 for her three 500 times. Her first round of 100’s were 57 and 58’s with a 59 thrown in there. The second round was .59 – I got on her case a little bit – a couple of .57’s and a .58. On the last round 56, 56 57, and 56. We are using the 100’s to be very specific about the pace. And we are using the 500’s to cruise. At that time 5:05 was cruise for her because her average was 1:01. Her pace was 1:01 for the 1650 until March of 2005 when it became 1:00.5.

Next I call this double descend. I want her times to descend in each set and I also want her times to descend between sets, with an extra minute rest between sets. In addition to that – the intervals are getting tougher. The first set of three 400’s she was doing two years ago were on the 4:50. The second set of three 400’s still need to be descended were on the 4:40. The third set of 400’s she did descending again, were on the 4:30, and the last round was on the 4:20. So, we are tightening up the interval as we go through the set – totally different energy system at the end of the set than at the beginning of the set where she is getting a lot more rest. The same set the following year – in addition, the starting interval wasn’t 4:50 – now it was 4:40. Her last set was actually on the 4:10 and she went 4:03, 4:02, 3:59 on that last set last year.

Descend and descend if that is possible – we did that same set a different way. We started out with the hard interval. They were supposed to descend. The interval got easier as we went through the set on each round after that and the times were also descended. Not only that, but we wanted a lot more quality towards the end of the set because she is getting a lot more rest. This is very similar to what Jon Urbanchek would suggest with his rainbow system. As you are getting down into the blue and the purple the intervals are easier because you are straining a lot more to get the times faster and we are going to start doing a little bit more of this where we flip the set around and approach it from the other angle.

Just for lack of a better name – this was the 1-4. We did basically ten 400’s the first four descend, next three descend, next two descend, and the last one was for time. So the number in each round that descends gets less; the intervals get less so the intervals were basically descending and her times were supposed to descend in each round. This was 2002. We started out basically 4:55. The second round was 4:45. The third round was 4:35. So in 2003 the starting interval was the same. I couldn’t find the same practice from her notebook last year. I know it was in there somewhere and her times were supposed to descend too so that is why I called it triple descend.

Now the next one – quality descend: one of my swimmers came back from a national select camp many, many years ago and said, “Coach – we did ten 200’s freestyle under 3 minutes at camp and I really loved that set.” I said, “well, would it be fast?” She promised me that it would be if she could do it on the three minutes so I threw it out to them and we have used it ever since. Basically, ten 200’s on the three minutes – descend 1-10. The interval never gets tougher, but the starting times do. I have recorded every year that Kate did that set. In 2001 she went 2:07.12 down to 1:57.16. In 2002 she went 2:04.12 down to 1:55.58. I couldn’t find her times from 2003 so that is a really long, quality descend set.

Next – this is more of a rainbow practice that we started putting into a little bit this year and we might do six or seven of them over the whole course of the year. I found out that – I have a belief that this works really, really, really good for strong, older college guys, but for female distance swimmers it is quite taxing – very strenuous. Anyway, we also put out the charts so that they know what their white level is – what their pink, red, blue and purple levels are. It is basically a way of making them very target oriented on their set.

For instance, the six 300’s three were at white, three were at pink – they were on the 2:15. Eight 150’s four were supposed to be at pink and four were supposed to at red they were on the 1:40. Then the twelve 100’s at the end– actually it looks like it was 10, 4 were at red on the 1:20. Three were at blue on the 1:30, and three were purple on the 1:40. And this was actually a practice that Jon gave them that Wednesday morning when he visited us in February.

Next – I call this the double rainbow. I took Jon’s rainbow philosophy and tried to skew it around and twist it and modify it and add a layer to it. So basically, they are doing three 600’s free on the 7 minutes. They are supposed to negative split and descend so I wanted the first 300 at white, the second 300 at pink. And the second 600 I wanted the first 300 at pink and the second 300 at red, and on the third one I wanted the first 300 at red and the second 300 at blue. This would probably be very similar to asking Kate to go 300 cruise followed by 300 pace. Then later in the practice we did the same thing, but instead of starting at white and then going pink, we went pink/red, red/blue and then the last 600 that they did – the first 300 was blue and the last 300 was at purple.

Hold and descend: this one I think has just tremendous, tremendous value mentally. It really makes you mentally tough. We are basically doing twenty-four 150’s, but we will do twenty-four 200’s the same way. The 150’s are on the 1:50 yards, which gives them a decent amount of rest. The first four they want to hold whatever pace they start out at. In Kate’s case it was 1:36+ in 2003. The second four they descend from the first set, so she descended 1:35.80 down to 1:34.84. The third set of four – hold the pace that she did on #8 so 1:34+ was what she wanted to hold – she held 1:33+’s. The next four descend from that last one for four more so she descended from 1:34 down to 1:31:68. Then the next four – hold that pace – she held 1:31+’s. Then the last four descend from that last one so she descended 1:31.10 down to 1:25.94. In addition, we will write down her times and she wants to start out faster than she did the previous year so we build on the previous year on this set – it kind of keeps them honest on the first. You get to the middle of a set and you are trying to hold a pace and somehow you have to make it faster – the kids get in the middle of the set and they don’t know how they are going to possibly make it faster or how they are possibly be able to hold what they did and they know they have another two levels to go. It is very, very tough. Kate does a really good job on this set.

Next – I call this round and round. We used to do three 400’s – this is a variation of the three 400’s, three 300’s, three 200’s, three 100’s – very similar to the 100’s, 200’s, 300’s, 400’s you saw in the beginning of the season and middle of the season as the interval got tougher. Instead of just having all the 100’s and 200’s and 300’s and 400’s all strung out – we actually did this the first time at Olympic Trials when she had two days or three days between her 400 and her 800. The 400 was on 1:20 base for long course. Her 400 was negative split. Her 300 was cruise, which is 3 ½ seconds on average slower than her 1500 base. Then 200 pace and then 100 free – negative split. The 400 was cruise, the 300 was pace, and then the 200 was negative split, the hundred was cruise, 400 was pace, 300 was negative split, 200 was cruise and the hundred was pace. So we got one negative split on each of the distances in that set. We got one cruise in that set on each of the distances and we got one pace on each of the distances through there. It also had an effect of increasing the energy level that she was at and then she would go back and negative split and build up again.

I think all of us coaches borrow a lot. We will read an article in Swimming World or we will go online and we will find a practice that we think Wow – this is a pretty interesting practice. This was a Bob Bowman practice that Michael Phelps did – four 25’s, four 50’s, four 75’s, four 100’s – all the way up to four 175’s. And when he went up they were on the 16 seconds per 25 and then four 200’s in the middle and then back down – four 175’s down to four 25’s and when he went back down they were actually on the 15 seconds. Well, we can’t do that with Kate – she is not able to handle yet. I guess it is a 3000 if you count the four 175’s down to four 25’s. That is basically asking her to swim about 3000 yards at a 1.00 pace if it were on the 15 seconds per 25. She is not there yet so when she went up on the left side, it was on 17 per 25 and coming back down it was on 16 seconds per 25. So we borrowed this from Michael Phelps and I like it.

The next one was a Brook Bennett practice – borrowed from Peter Banks. It actually had some of her times written down on it so I threw this to Kate in 2004 for the first time. Basically it is four 250’s twice – the interval toughens up – the first one is on 3:15, the second one is 3:05, the third one is on three minutes and the fourth one is quality. So we wrote down that Brook went 2:45 and then we recorded Kate’s time. Kate went 2:53 and 2:57. Then, later in the practice, Brook went 300’s on the 4:10 in 4:00 3:50, 3:40 and d she had a 3:20 on the last one. Kate actually went 3:22.

I am trying to get Kate to the next level so the next level for her is doing as much as she can do on the 1:00 base – hundreds on the one minute, two hundreds on the two minutes, three hundreds on the three minutes. So we are trying to get closer and closer to doing as much as we can on that. So at the beginning of the season we will start out and we will do 36 100’s. We will go three on the 1:15, two on the 1:10 and one on the 1:05. Then, we will go three 1:10, two on the 1:05 and one on the minute and we will go around that three times. Later in the season we will do that same thing, but we will do two each on those intervals and I might have one more – later in the season. – Now this is the beginning of November – we will do that again, but we will go one on the 1:15, two on the 1:10 and three on the 1:05 – one on the 1:10, two on the 1:05 and three on the minute and we will go through that three times. So, we are starting to get her to do more and more stuff on the minute.

Likewise, she does a set with built in recovery. This is also an attempt to get her doing more on the minute. Kate actually has done this set on the minute. Over on the left side so she will do four 225’s on the 2:15. Then we go four 200’s on the same schedule – 2:15. So she is going to get a lot more rest. She is going to be able to recover. Then, we will come back to the left column and we will do four 100’s, 75’s on the minute 45, and then she will do four 150’s also on the 1:45. So there is built in recovery. She is recovering to get charged up to do four 125’s on 1:15 and then four 100’s on the 1:15, which is getting her charged up to do four 75’s on the 45 seconds and then four 50’s on the 45. So, we threw that in. that actually came to us from our Master Swimmers who swam at Georgetown and we have been doing that for years now.

Another way to get her down to holding more intervals on the minute is what I call, getting closer. Once again it is three – four main sets in the practice. The first round is a 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and back down to 100 and that is all on the 1:06 base. The second round it is a 100, 200, 300, up to the 400 and then back down – that is on a 1:04 base. The third round is 300, 200, 100, 200 and 300, but it could be 100, 200, 300, 200, 100. and that is on the 1:02 base. Then at the very bottom it is 100, 200, 100 or 200, 100, 200 which is asking her to swim either a 400 or a 500 and that is all on the minute base. It is an attempt to get her – once again – able to do more interval training on a 1:00 base

So, my time is up because – in fact – I am a little bit late and I can continue this at 4:15.

Quick questions?
Q. [in audible]……………………….
A. well, we cant do much kicking with Kate because two years ago she jumped in the water in warm-ups – seven – eight feet deep of water and she was practicing her streamlining so she hit the bottom of the pool and both of her feet bent underneath her and she broke a bone in her right foot and a toe on her left foot. So she has had tendonitis ever since then so we cant do much kicking with her. Fins especially double the pain and we don’t do a lot of pulling because she tends to get sore shoulders if we do a lot of pulling so we don’t do much in the way of kicking or pulling per se. We will have pulling and kicking sets, but we back off of that real quick – knowing her history.

Q. You mentioned in the other lecture that Kate rides a bike – I was wondering does the whole squad ride a bike and what kind?
A. No. Kate is a little bit more motivated than the rest of the group so I felt I would have success asking Kate to ride a bike so she does that. She also uses the bike sometimes to opt out of doing the dry land that we do. The other kids, you know – we are doing half an hour twice a week – Monday and Wednesday and they are doing a little pilates – they are doing some core strengthening. They are doing some sit-ups, push-ups – things like that. A couple of years ago they were jumping rope. We are not doing a heck of a lot in terms of the dry land – our top group is more the distance minded-oriented swimmers – the ones that want to do it – so we will have 14 year olds in the group – all the way up to seniors in the group. Sometimes we have college swimmers in the group and it is a very small group of 11 or 12 kids. Sometimes we will have 15 – sometimes we will have 9 so because there is such an age variety there. We don’t do a lot of the dry land because of the shoulders forming and the joints and all that. And besides, in Kate’s case, we are pretty limited in what we can do dry land. She wants to do more in terms of flexibility this year so we are going to put a lot more emphasis on the flexibility this year in the dry land program and to try to do different things. Once We are going to do break dancing.

Q. What kind of a best time – what is her best time that you have seen her do a best time………?
A. I mean – are you asking if she has best times in practice – oh – her best time in practice before she drops at a meet? The closest we get to that and I didn’t prepare a slide for that – the closest we have gone to that is we do 33 50’s with five seconds rest – a foot touch – in the springtime and I record all her single individual times

Q. No, what is the best you have ever seen her do at practice – 200 free?
A. 200 free – lets throw that out – 400 free – she has gone 4:15 – 4:16 from a push-off long course in the morning.

Q. what about short course 500?
A. 4:46 maybe.

Q. 1650?
A. we don’t – see, we don’t do that many 1650’s in practice straight okay? So I can’t answer that one.

Q. Has she ever been under 16:30?
A. No – no – all right? The closest we get to the 1650 – that I knew she was ready for a meet was – we will do the 33 50’s to foot touch and I will read out her time – wait 5 seconds and send her off again and record all of her times and add them up – the first time she went under 16 minutes – she actually went 15:59 – her times on those 33 50’s added up to 15:52. Last year we did it again – she ended up going 15:46 – 15:47 and her times added up to 15:45 so that was a pretty accurate barometer for her then. I have also tried to get her to do 1650’s long course and add up her time – hoping to see it add up to a World Record, but that hasn’t happened yet so – one of these years.

Q. [inaudible]
A. Do you mean like the 3000 – the two 15 hundreds and three 1,000’s? No we have been doing that for a while – before Kate – the early season test – the 3,000, the 2,000 and the 1,000 – that was one of our test sets that goes back five, six, seven years.

Q. Did you find there is just a handful of kids that have the kind of stamina to do that?

A. No – just about every kid in our program has improved every year on that stuff. 3,000, 2,000, 1,000 because we only do it once a year and they know it is coming. They have got to be somehow a little bit faster than the previous year. Sometimes – a lot faster.

Q.[in audible]
A. a lot of the practices that you saw were – if you saw – if they were on a Sunday – Sundays are our big day. We swim three hours on Sunday – practices go 12, 13, to 15,000.

Q. a few questions – how tall is she and is she still growing?
A. If you asked her she would say she is 5’ 11, although she was 5’ 11” two years ago and even if she were 6’ or a little over 6’ she would still say she is 5’11 or she might even say she is 5’ 12”. She doesn’t, you know, her boyfriend is about 5’ 9” so she doesn’t like being 6 feet something doesn’t sound good for her. Is she still growing? Yes, a little bit – a little bit. When she broke her foot – that was two springs ago – her doctor said her growth plates were wide open. She did grow last year and I still think she is growing a little bit still, but not much more, okay?

Q. What is her ????
A. Her highest weekly volume would be the week between Christmas and New Years – we will go up to 90,000 – that is the only time in the year we can do that because we don’t swim more than twice a week in the mornings because of school and other commitments. I would say her weekly volume is 60-70,000. Summertime it is more like 70-75,000 because summertime is easier to peg. Summertime we go about 8-9,000 in the mornings – five days a week. We go 5,000 meters short course in the afternoons four days a week and then if we have a Sunday practice we will go about 10,000.

Q. What would be your highest point?
A. Basically that – 9 times 5 – 45 plus another 20 is 65 – 75,000 something like that. You know we are not more into the quantity anymore as we are improving the quality and really mixing it up okay? If I see myself going over 10,000 in an afternoon I usually back off and limit it to 10,000 or else I would be playing the numbers game. As if 10.4 is a little better than 10.3, then 10.5 is even a little bit better than 10,400 and once you get to that point there is no need for that I do not think.

World Clinic Yearbook Supplement Available

Coach Ray Benecki showed over 70 workouts on slides during the preceding presentation. We did not include them here because the extra 70 pages would add substantially to the cost of the book and to the mailing costs.

We have included 3 of the workouts here.

You can view and download the entire set of workouts in the membersonly section of www.swimmingcoach.org

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