Program Design Developed to Foster Improbement at Any Level of High School Swimming by Kevin Kinel, Chesteron High School (2013)


Welcome. I’m George Block; on behalf of the ASCA Board welcome this afternoon. I always say it is the very serious coaches who are going full-bore on Saturday afternoon.  So give yourselves a pat on the back; you guys are serious about sharpening your coaching blade.  Thank you for being here.

This sounds like it is going to be a great talk.  I just meet Kevin for the first time and was sort of quizzing him on what the focus of his talk is.  And he told me something very interesting about his program: he does not cut any kid.  From the flounders on up, if they can hang, they can hang.  So what he is going to talk to you about is the kids who would normally be referred to the Cross Country coach, who have made significant contributions to his team, and kids who if we are following 18&Unders we know their names, that come out of his program. And they all swim in the same pool together.  So, Kevin, thank you for being here; welcome to the ASCA World Clinic.



[Kinel begins]

Thank you; thank you very much.  (Can you guys hear me? Yeah, okay.)  Thanks for that introduction.  First off, it is really just an honor to speak here.  Kind of dressed-up for the occasion; this is about as dressed as I get.  And as swim coaches, I think you guys know that we live in shorts and polos.


When I was a young coach early in my career, I was really skeptical and did not want to share a whole lot of what I was doing, always afraid that the competitor is going to get an edge on me and that kind of stuff.  But what I have found as I have gotten older and I have spent more time in coaching, I found that the more I give back, the more I share with people, it comes back twofold.  And there are some friendly faces in the audience here, friends of mine, coaching, that I have shared things with, they have shared with me.  I have learned from them; hopefully they have learned a few things from me.  And so that is really what this is all about, so it is really a privilege to be here.


And I also… you know we make such an impact on kids’ lives that every single kid in your program is important.  And whether you realize it or not, you really touch them.  And I kind of think that is why I decided on this topic, because I feel like I have bridged-the-gap a little bit on taking the kids who came to my program pretty-good already and got them better, and the kids that were not so outstanding and I felt like I have made them to be contributors—like George said.


This topic… you know as high school coaches, all of us have obstacles: we have limited pool time, we have crowded pools, we have limited coaching staffs.  And in my career—and this is my 34th year at Chesterton—I have tried everything under the sun.  I have done all of the different testing to try to find paces, and I have done everything.  I have come-up with a system that is a little bit different and I have been using it for quite a while.  And I really had a lot of success with it, and I am very, very comfortable with it.  So I am hoping that you can get something out of this today.  And you may not agree with everything I say, but I really think this is something that you can look at.  It is very easy to administer and I have had a lot of success with it.


Everybody also has you know real high kids, high-level achievers, in your program, whether it is National-level kids or whether it is you know State type of kids or kids about to make State.  And then we have got the real bottom end.  And for us, I have got real high-end kid and I have got real, real bad kids.


My high-end kids—and I am going to give you a little background here before I kind of get into the system.  My high-end kids, probably the most notable is Kyle Whitaker, and some of you might recognize that name.  We have been able to have five kids qualify for Olympic Trials.  And I have had other kids through the years that have made the times, but not on Olympic years and so they did not go to Trials.  But Kyle, his junior year—the summer of his junior year—he won 5 events, set 5 records at Junior Nationals; he went on, is swimming at Michigan, helped them win a national title this year.  So we have that kind of kid.  I just had two kids named to the Junior National Team this last summer; one of which made the Dubai trip and just got back.  So we have got some high level kids.


But we have also got some really low.  And a couple of stories with that.  I had one kid a few years back that was swimming in a JV Race, and he was dead last.  As he flipped… he was in the 100 back.  As he flipped on the third turn… flip, pushed-off of at an angle and came-up in the other kid’s lane—his competitor.  And as he is going… the person from Portage—is the team that we were summing against—that kid touches and then my kid just crashes into the back of him.  So I have had those kids that do not really have any business… at all.


I also had a kid a few years ago—and this is really one of the things that inspired me to do this talk—is: when we were in the first couple of days of practice, he could hardly swim a length of the pool.  He had the head out of the water and just smacking the water and was just working real, real hard.  After about a week of this, I pulled him aside—his name is Mike.  I pull him aside and I said, “You know, Mike, I hate to see you working this hard and kind of get no return.”  And I said, “Why don’t you maybe be manager or something, and then maybe this summer swim and we will see how it goes.”  He goes, Oh coach, I really want to do it.  Do I have to?  And I said, “No.  I mean you can stay and you can be part of the team and that’s all good.”


So he worked real hard, and he ended-up by the end of this freshman year he was kind of a middle-of-the-road JV guy for us.  And then started to grow a little bit, trained in summer, started learning things.  Sophomore year, he actually was our third guy in the 50 free; his 100 free still was not anywhere near.  But he was like third guy in the 50 free; he made a varsity spot and I thought it was incredible.  Junior year, he won the 50 free at our conference meet, and he was like 3rd or 4th in the 100.  Senior year, qualified in both the 50 and the 100 at State meet, and then was on a relay that scored for us.  So that was a kid that could not do anything and ended-up really being a contributor to us.


So how do you kind of make it all work? And for us we do not have tons of pool space or anything else.  So that is kind of what this talk is about.


I take a little bit of a different approach to training, and it is really more common sense.  I think it is important, whatever your training system is, that you have got to get the kids to buy-into it.  If you get them to buy-into it, then anything that you are going to do is going to be better.  And I found that the hard way through the years.  So I have tried to simplify the science.  Sometimes I come to these clinics and people are talking way above me.  I have no idea how I can put it to into my program; it is just, you know, I kind of get it and I kind of do not.  So I tried to simplify the science, and I am going to kind of go through this sort of the way I do with my kids.  The other part is this is easy to administer and I think it is pretty easy to understand.


So the goal is to get all your swimmers to progressively get faster throughout their high school career.  Regardless of where they started: whether they were the kid foundering around or whether they were the kid who was pretty-fast coming in.  We want to get the kids that are beginners to, hopefully a season or two down the road, start really helping you.  And we want to get those kids that were good to begin with, we want to be able to get them to the next level.  That is the goal.  And we want to have some kind of means to measure that.


Before I get into this, I wanted to kind of just show you a little bit of some of the improvement that we have had recently, and hopefully it will make my point a little bit.  I mentioned Kyle Whitaker a little bit.  The first two here [on slide] graduated just recently: Kyle in 2010 and now he is at Michigan, and Kate Curley just graduated last year and now she is swimming for John at Purdue.  These kids were already pretty fast when they came in.  Kyle was a 1:54.9 IM’er; that is pretty good coming out of eighth grade.  He ended-up going to 1:44.2, so you know he dropped like ten seconds.  And to me that is a lot, when they come in at that level.  His 100 fly, he dropped about four seconds.  Kate Curley was a 2:22 IM’er and ended-up at 2:05, so she had a 16-second drop over the course of her four years, and about a seven second drop in her backstroke.  So I think that is pretty significant.  And those kids are helping us obviously.


Blake Pieroni is one of the kids who made the Junior National Team this summer.  When he came-in in eighth grade, 2:01 in the IM; and he went 1:48.8 at our State meet this year—pretty significant.  He will be a senior now, so in three years.  Four second improvement in his 100 free in three years.  Aaron Whitaker, who is… and Aaron and Ethan that are on the bottom here are twins [and brothers] of Kyle; they are going to be seniors.  This was last year, from their junior year.  Aaron was a good flyer when he came in, he was 52.7—great flyer for eighth grade.  As a junior, he went 47.3.  He was not a 100 backstroker, at all; and his freshman year, I never ever thought he would swim the 100 back.  And started coming-on anyway.  This year he went 47.2: it is a huge drop.  And a lot of that is because he is great underwater.  His twin, Ethan, was not… had not really got his growth spurt, etc, but Ethan was a 1:58.0 coming out of eighth grade.  This year, as a junior, he went 1:38.7.  And he dropped… you know you can see in his 500, he dropped almost a minute.  He started getting his growth spurt.  But I also believe that because they had a consistent program, they are going to continue to improve.


These are just a few other kids that were not that good coming in.  Patrick Curley was at 2:14 IM’er; he scored at the State meet for us, he went 1:54.4.  And I can go down the list.  Brent Vondra, there, is a guy who is going to be helping us next year.  He is going to end-up making our squad, and maybe even be fast enough for relays, we will see.  Kelly Craig was just a freshman and she had almost a nine-second drop, freshman year; 22-second drop in her 500 free.  So I think these works.


Tony… and I am going to spend just a second on Tony.  Tony Kincaid is a real tall kid who is pretty athletic, and I think he would be good in anything.  He came out his sophomore year; did not swim club, did not swim anything.  Came out as sophomore year, learned how to do dolphin kick, and because he is so huge, his junior year he went 52.7 and qualified for State meet for us.  So, you know, we have had some improvement.


Now I want to kind of get into how we do this.  I feel like the aerobic and anaerobic mix makes the biggest difference.  And I know that there are programs that have been really successful with huge volumes, aerobically; and I know that there has been program successful with sprinting.  But I think that you have to hit both and I think you have to hit both every day.


One of the ways that I get the kids to buy-into what we are doing, is we use this approach.  Everything that we do basically relates to racing.  So we tell them that you need speed-work every day, because speed-work is going to allow you to get out that first 25 of a 100, the first quarter of the race, without getting tired.  The next 50, or the next 50% of that race, is going to be your aerobic base; how hard you can… if you can hold that pace.  Then the last quarter, or the last 25 of a 100 or 50 of a 200, is that anaerobic metabolism; learning to bring it home.  So we use that, and we kind touch on all of those in practice, every day.


Aerobic training

These terms, these are… I use three aerobic training paces or systems, and these are from Ernie Maglischo’s book Swimming Faster.  At least they are my interpretation of it.  And again, trying to make the science simple, so that the kids can understand it and so that I can feel confident when I am talking to them too.  So we said that the aerobic training helps you hold the pace in the middle of your race.  And that is kind of how I sell it to them; that is why it has got to be better.  I also… I do not think that you can just try to go on the fastest interval you can make, all the time.  I think you have to alternate it, and you have to cycle it.  And we cycle these paces within the whole week—and I am going to get into that in just a little bit and I am going to get into how we establish these paces, or how we determine the pace.


But just so that we are all in the same page here, as far as basic endurance, it is the EN1 that used to be with USA Swimming.  What I think is a moderate kind of a pace, very moderate rest; it is not real hard swimming.  It helps with endurance, helps little bit with recovery.


Your threshold training is stronger swims, very little rest.  Example of that might be 12-15 100s on the fastest send-off you can make.  I think it helps delay the build-up of that lactic acid—at least that is way I am reading it.  It helps you go longer and harder.  That is the EN2, is what USA Swimming used to call it.


And then the third type is aerobic overload.  And aerobic overload is swimming fast and getting a little bit of rest so you can keep it up.  But not so fast that you are getting into that anaerobic metabolism.  And example of that might be 15×100 strong, 15-30 seconds rest.


And as I am going through, if anybody has got any questions, just go ahead and do it.  Yeah?


[audience member]:  Do you give them one workout a day?  What are your hours of training?


[Kinel]:  We go every morning for like an hour and 15 minutes, and then we go every afternoon for two and half hours.  And then on Saturday, we go one practice in the morning, two and half.


[audience member]:  So in high school, we have an 8-hour rule, but you do not have that?  In Texas, we have that.


[Kinel]:  No.  I think there are ways to get around that.  I mean not get around it: there are ways to work with it.  And we can talk about that.


So how do you establish those paces?  I use… like I said, I have tried everything, and there is a lot of good stuff out there.  But for me I needed something that was simple, something that I could get the inexperienced kids to do, and something that I can get the experienced kids to do.  We use an adaptation of Dick Bower’s cruise intervals.


And just to sort of bring you to speed with that: a long time ago—and he coached in Louisiana—he was trying to find a way that you could very easily test and have a pace that was for threshold training, for short rest stuff, and that was you know meaningful.  So they did a test set of 6×100, any stroke, and you take 5 seconds rest—no more, no less.  And his original test, you take the average, minus the rest, and that was your threshold pace.  Or, excuse me, then you added 5 to it, that was your threshold pace.  Well, that is fine.  And when I started messing with that, you know, short-rest stuff, your distance kids can thrive on it, but nobody else can; it just did not seem to work.  So I had to find a way to do other things, and find a way to be able to have the other two types of training.


So what we are going to do, we are going to do that 6×100, 5 seconds rest, and we are going to determine:

  • our overload pace, and we are going to call it Cruise-1—you will understand in a minute—;
  • your threshold pace, we are going to call it Cruise-2; and
  • your basic pace, and we are going to call it Cruise-3.


So taking 6×100, let us say we did it freestyle.  If your total time was 625, you take your average 100 minus the rest, and you stopped 5 times for 5 seconds ,so 25 off.  So to make it easy, the math easy, 1:00 would be your average.  Now we are going to call that average your overload pace or your Cruise-1.  We are going to add five seconds to that, just like Dick Bower’s test showed, and that is going to be our threshold pace, which is 1:05, and call it Cruise-2.  We are going to add five to that and that is going to be our basic endurance pace, and going to call it Cruise-3.


So kind of to give example sets of this.  I am going to take that same swimmer—that has done the 6×100 freestyle and his average was double-O, and then we are going to call that as Cruise-1 like we said.  So a set of that might be 12×100, and for this particular kid, he would have to hold 1:00 and leave on 1:15—he would get 15 seconds rest.  I usually do 15 per 100; if I am doing 200s, 30 seconds rest, etc.  When I am doing Cruise-1 or overload.  If we are going to give a Cruise-2 set, a threshold set, that would be however many you assign: 12, maybe 15, 100, leaving on that threshold time, 1:05.  And if you were going to do a basic endurance set. you are doing—or Cruise-3 as we call it—you would be just leaving on 1:10, maybe 15×100.


So what we do then (if I am going too fast or anything just let me know).  What we do then after we have tested them in freestyle and their major stroke and IM—and for some of them, in a second stroke—we simply make a chart.  And this chart is on the wall and I have next to this chart, I have a chart that has all times and distances figured out.  So the kids will come over and they will see that if their cruise time is 1:10 and they are doing 225s, then they will go down the chart and they can easily find their time.


So we put this chart on the wall, and realize… you know I did a little bit here but it would go way down.  To some kids, Cruise-1 and freestyle might be 1:40.  I also need you to realize this was at the end of last year; this was the last one that we had up.  This was not the first one, but at the end of the year.  When we test these, their cruise interval, that 6×100 test set, if they are slower than what they did before, I do not change the time.  If they are faster than they were before, then I change the time.  So we test as a season progresses.


So that if you look at Blake Pieroni, there on top.  If he was going to do a freestyle set of maybe 15×100, and he was going to do on his Cruise-3, his time is 1:06.  If he was going to do maybe 8×200, on Cruise-1 and I give him 30 seconds rest, then he would have to hold—or at least the goal is to hold—1:52, and then he leaves 30 seconds later.  And again, you can do that in IM and you can do it stroke.  If you move down to say second-to-the-bottom, Chris Olsen.  For him, if he was going to do that 8×200 set—and I would probably do 7x with him so that they got done about the same time—he would have to hold 2:24 and then he would leave 30 seconds later.


So my thought process is: if I have got packed pool and I have weak swimmers, I have average swimmers and I have pretty-good swimmers, by using a measurable means like this, I think that Chris Olsen is getting as much out of this set as Blake Pieroni is.  Okay?  And so I can do this in any stroke and I can do it in IM.  Does that makes sense?  So this is the bulk of my aerobic training, and I am going to go through some weeks of it, because I have a little bit of the cycle.


As you can see on the right side, the second stroke, Blake, although he is not really that great of an I… well he was 1:48 which is pretty good.  IM is not his best stroke, but he did it for the team.  So he had some of the strokes sets he did breaststrokes, some of them he did fly, some of them he did backstroke; so he had a time for all of those.  This is our girls team.  And I took the top end, and then I kind of cut-out the middle and I put you know some lower kids in there, just so you can see the same thing.  Let me do it for the girls team; it works every level, it doesn’t matter.


How often?  Well, I do this test in freestyle, in stroke, in IM; and I used to do it in kicking—it works great in kicking.  I used to do cruise-interval test for kicking regular and then I used to do with fins.  And so we would have intervals for everything.  I have gotten away from doing kicking cruise intervals, because we do so much kicking underwater now that it just did not seem reasonable.  So I do not do it anymore.  And I tell you the talk from Bob Bowman this morning, if you were there, about underwater, has me thinking about things.  But I do so much underwater kicking, not solely but I do a lot underwater kicking, and so I do not test that in cruise intervals.


At their early season, we re-test cruise about every three weeks.  So after we are a couple of weeks into the season, we are starting to get in shape, then we will do our first cruise test.  And we will test all three.  And then after about three weeks, we will do it again and chart improvement.  And then I will wait a little bit, as long as it seems like that was working I will wait a little, I might skip a three weeks and then I will test another one.  But then that is usually about it.  The only time that I would really do more later in the season is if it was obvious that that time was too slow for them, or obvious that it is too fast.


Sometimes I will have kids that will… you know, when we do that test, they will give me the wrong time.  And I will put it down there and then I will realize that it is about… you know they did not do the math, whatever, it is ten seconds faster than they ought to be and you have got to call a little audible.  And then, like I said, when I test it, if they are faster than [before], I will change it; if they are slower than, I will not.  And, you know, I have always thought that kids would think that if they dogged that set, their times, their practices would be easier.  But they get fired-up to do that 6×100 test; they really do.  And I go in groups, so that we do not have too many waves going in the pool.  But it is a good training set.


I am going to kind of go through how we do our aerobic part here, and I am going to get to the anaerobic here in a little bit because that is equal as important.  We do two aerobic sets each practice: I do one of them free, and I do one of them stroke and IM.  In high school, you have got to have freestylers.  There are the short events, there are the short relays, and I just think you have got to have freestyle.  So it is also a little bit of recovery.  So we do one set stroke, one set free and we rotate them.  The first set that we do, the first aerobic set that we do, is generally strong; and then the second one that we do is easier: not easy but easier.  And there is an element of recovery involved with that too.


So, if you look at the top, we do Cruise-1—and remember that was overload, kind of a like EN3—we do that on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for about 1,200-1,600 yards a set.  On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, we do Cruise-2—remember that is your hard, short-rest stuff—also 1,200-1,600 yards.  The bottom set, we rotate between Cruise-3—and remember that was your moderate, basic endurance.  We alternate that with what I call Cruise-3+, and that is I will add time to that Cruise-3, and I will ask them to descend.


And I generally will do the descending Cruise-3 descend, so taking that 100… that kid whose Cruise-1 was 1:00, his Cruise-3 is 1:10.  So I might have that kid go 12x or 16×100 and they will go on their Cruise-3, 1:10 plus maybe 20.  And I will ask them to descend in sets of 3, sets of 4, or whatever you want to do.  So part of it is a little easier and then part of it is a little bit of speed-work.  And you guys have all done descending stuff before.


I usually do that on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, because they are usually hammered with that Cruise-1 stuff and so I want there to be a little more recovery.  I do just straight Cruise-3, so it is not really that hard of training on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  And I am going to get to it too, you know in the whole scheme of this you have got to be thinking about what you are doing anaerobically too, as far as some of those goes.  And I will get into that and placement in practice.  But this really works good, and you hit, over the course of the week, all of the energy systems.


Here, I am just putting numbers to it, so you know maybe it makes a little more sense.  On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you can see there we are doing Cruise-1.  And I have alternated the free and the stroke with IM.  On Monday, that first set we went 8×200, holding Cruise-1, leaving 30 later.  And that pace is going to be different for everybody; and I have got that chart up.  So they will look at the set, they will look at their time, they will go over and they will find… well 200s all they have got to do is double it—but some of my kids may not be able to double it, they might have to actually go to the chart and look.  So, holding Cruise-1, leaving plus 30; that is a strong set.  That second aerobic set… and usually I will have like kicking or pulling in between.


That second aerobic set is going to be at Cruise-3 plus 20.  It is a stroke set; we are doing descending 9×125 on their Cruise-3 plus 20, and I am asking them to descend reasonably well.  Little bit of recovery, little bit of endurance.


Tuesday, just a Cruise-2, so that with short-rest stuff.  That second set, Cruise-3, moderate.  So you can see as you go through, we are hitting it hard on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in a different way.  The threshold set on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday is tough too, but I feel like that is helping them hold a strong pace in the middle.  And then the second set is like I said either descending class or Cruise-3+ or it is just leaving on Cruise-3, okay.  And each of these sets would be 1,200-1600 or so; sometimes we do a little more, sometimes we do a less, depending on what… but that is pretty much general.  For my distance kids, these sets would be a little longer, but it is a same principle—and I do have a sample workout that I will show you later that kind of has distance on there too.


Anaerobic, which is sort of the other side of the puzzle and equally as important.


Anybody have anything on that, the aerobic side, before I go to this?  I think it is pretty straightforward, and I will tell you it works because everybody is getting the same.  Okay.


Anaerobic training

The anaerobic side of this.  Instead of having one huge, or two huge, anaerobic days—and I know people have had success doing that—I would rather do some anaerobic quality stuff in smaller increments every day.  And it is at the end of practice, right before you loosen down.  To me that makes sense, because what I am trying to get them to understand is that this anaerobic work is to allow you to get that race home.  So it is allowing you to basically work-through that pain.  And the three types that we do: tolerance—and again these are my terms, my interpretation—race pace and speed-work.


Tolerance and race pace.  Tolerance training to me is just getting used to the pain that is associated with lactate build-up and all of that.  So it is a small number of repetitions, fast speed, with pretty long rest.  And the rest would get longer as the season progresses.  It helps you get mentally strong to finish the race hard.  And that is easier said than done.  An example of that might be 4×100 on 4:00, everything you got.


Race pace is what I do with broken swims or it might be predictor swims.  Everything at race speed.  It is more the pace and skill work.  So an example of that might be 4×100 on 4:00, broken 10 seconds at the 50, foot touch, 10 seconds at the 75, foot touch, and then hand touch, no breathe from flags.  Another example of that, not a broken swim, but it might be 6×50 on 2:00.  And that is a predictor from Bob Steele—and at the end of this I have got some of his stuff which is pretty cool.  But you are trying to hold half of your 100 time, so it is very specific.  It is race pace.  And again this type helps you get that last part home.


Our weekly plan for anaerobic is just alternating those two.  So at the end of our practice, we will get them on the blocks and we will alternate.  Usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday we will do race pace; might be broken, might be predictors, about 400-600 yards.  And again you know sometimes you do a little more, usually not too much less.  But every day.  And they learned to recover I think too.  On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, we will do tolerance: just get after it, make it hurt.


And I think when we are in a high school meet and they are swimming four events, you are going to go an all-out 500 and then real quick you turn around and you have got to turn into a sprinter and you got to do that 50 on the end of the 200 Free Relay.  You do not have tons of time.  You know, you have got a great 400 Free Relay, and you need a breaststroker and one of those guys is a pretty good breaststroke, you have got to do it and it happens.  I think this kind of stuff, daily, gets them ready to do it.  And to be honest with you, they really get after it.


You know boys hate to do the aerobics stuff and they love to race, and sometimes girls are the opposite.  And this allows those kids to race each other, and it is also an opportunity to do some specific stuff with them.  This is when you can work on race breathing.  This is when you can work on getting-out strong and holding-on, or getting-out easy and coming back.


So I kind of put this to numbers too.  For a 100 emphasis, for example, with your 50 and 100 kids.  This is just an example as you set it up through the week.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday are kind of race pace; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday are what I call tolerance.

  • So we did a pretty normal broken set on Monday: 10 at the 50 and the 75. So we are after them getting their race time or faster.
  • Tuesday: We just wanted to flood their system: 4×100 on 4:00, get after it. Trying to get them some goal, trying to get them… and on these days too is when you can do that.  You know today you can tell one of them: you have been having trouble getting home, so let’s maybe back-off just slightly in the front and let’s really get after it and see if we can get home.  And these are straight, it gives them a chance to do that.  But you are really flooding them.
  • Wednesday: 6×50 on 2:00. I am trying to break a minute in the fly, so my goal is to break 30 on these.  And I am training for my race.  And those would be push off.
  • Thursday: Sometimes I like to do something just a little longer than their race. You know, if they generally are in the 100, so let us go some 150s.
  • Friday: Let us add a little more speed in there. We will 2×100 and 2×50.
  • Saturday: We are going to go 75. And we are going to ask them to go 3/4th of their 100, or their 75 split during the race.  Well they cannot do it, but it gives them a goal.  From a dive, get after it.  And right now you are swimming at race speed, so what an opportunity to work on your turns.  Get after them: do not slow down, hard in, hard out, 5 kicks off the wall, or whatever you do.  So it is an opportunity to teach I think.


This is just… if your emphasis that was with a 200 kid, a 200 free or an IM’er; or you know if it was a club, you could be working on 200 of stroke.  But same kind of idea, broken swimming in slightly different ways.

  • Monday: taking 15 seconds at the 100 only. Good idea to work on out and back.
  • Wednesday: broken 10 every 50.
  • Friday: add-in speed, so you are going 200s and 100s.
  • Tuesday: straight quality.
  • Thursday: This is actually a predictor set, same as those 6×50. If you go push-off 5×100 on 3:00, and you double your average, it is a pretty good prediction of what you can go on a 200.  So to me, why not use that as a training tool all the time, because they are going at race speed.
  • Then Saturday: 150s, same concept as a 75s: trying to hold 3/4th of your 200.


You know you can get kids… this way kids feel like there is a reason why I am up here sprinting. And I got to do this.  It comes at the end of… the whole purpose of it is to get home, so let us do it at the end when I am already tired, like they will be, and I get to go home after this.  You can get a lot out of them.  Let’s rev it up.  Instead of doing 20×100 on long rest, just wiping them out and the next day is crap.  To me this just makes more sense, and I get the kids to buy-into it a little bit better as well.


Speed training.  There is a lot of different ways to do speed training.  There is just regular, unassisted, working on stroke rate and breath control and coordination.  There is assisted.  And then there is resisted, with buckets and parachutes, etc.  And you can see some examples; you know everybody does this.  I mean 8×25, long rest; 37½s, 50s, etc.  8x15m kicks, whatever you want to do.


I think that sprinting is a skill.  In your aerobic training, I think that you can get out of tempo.  So I want to do a little sprinting every day, and I want to work on that speed.  So we do a little bit of speed-work every day.  Again, our afternoon—and all of these that I have had so far right now are all are afternoon, so I am going to get into the mornings briefly in a little bit.  But we do our dryland and our weights on Tuesday, Thursday mornings; sometimes in-water stuff Saturday.  So I cannot do any speed-work then, because we are not in water at all.  I do my speed-work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the morning; and then on Tuesday and Thursday, I do it during that afternoon practice.


And I do it right after the warm-up set, because it makes sense to me.  I mean the whole point there is to get that front-end out without it tiring you, so why not do it where it is in the race.  It just it makes sense to the kids, I think, too.  So we will do 25s, 37½s, 50s, etc. on long rest.  We will do in the morning on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and on Saturday too; we will do it in the afternoons on Tuesday, Thursday, just because we cannot do it in the morning and I want to do it every day.


Placement of these training types.  This is what I… it is a common-sense way of doing it.  And it is something that I understand, so it is easy for the kids to understand—if I can understand it I think anybody can.  But just like we said: you want speed training early in the workout.  Before they get tired, before techniques suffers.  You want your aerobic training in the middle, because that is what it is supposed to be doing: it is allowing you to hold a strong pace in the middle.  And then you want your anaerobic to be at the end, and you want to make it as race specific as possible: get them on the blocks, challenge them—I think it is important.




[audience member]:  When do you do your drills and stroke work?


[Kinel]:  After, as part of my warm-up and as part of my warm down, okay.  Like we might do 400 or 500 easy, and then we will do a set of 12×50/12×75 of drill and drill-swim then.  And then I might do drill again at the end, during warm down.  Unless they are wiped out.


And that is part of the art of coaching, you know.  I mean sometimes you come-in all fired-up and it is obvious that they are done: you have got to call an audible.  And if you keep swimming them like that, you just… you know all you are going to do is beat them to death and they are going to be garbage.  So I think sometimes you have to do an audible, and drills are terrific for that.


Sample practice

This is… (and I do not know if it is big enough for you to see it).  This is an example of an afternoon practice; this was in November, last year.  The reason I put it here is to just kind of give an example of how I put all the stuff together.

  • We warmed-up 400: I had them go 200 free, 200 back.
  • Then we did 12×75 on 1:20. On this we just did fly-back-breast, back-breast-free.  I kind of think I was trying to work on the back-to-breast flip turn—I think that was what we were after when we did that.
  • Then this was a Monday and it was a Cruise-1 day; and we were doing Cruise-1 of stroke or IM. And on this particular day I did both.  So we did… and it might have given them a minute between this two—I think I did—just because I wanted it to be better.  So we did 8×100 of their IM Cruise-1, leaving 15 later—so, again, that is going to build different for everybody.  Gave them a minute.
  • Then we did their stroke now, same thing: 8×100 of their best stroke, holding their Cruise-1 leaving 15 later.
  • Then we had a kick set. Eight sets of what I called the Lochte set.  That set I saw Gregg Troy doing at a clinic with Ryan Lochte, and I am going to explain that set later—it has got some underwater to it.
  • Then we just did some straight kicking with board. I asked them to hold… leaving on 2:30, I asked them to kick as hard as they could.  Standard stuff, everybody does.
  • .. and remember on those Cruise-1 days we do descending Cruise-3+. So on this day we did 4×300 Cruise-3 plus 20, and I asked them to descend within each 100—by each 100 of the 300.
  • We pulled with paddles.
  • And then we did race-pace stuff at that end. We did 3×100 on 4:00, 10 broken: 10 and 10;  3×50 on 2:00.  The kids that were more 100 and 200 inclined did: 2×200 and 2×100, broken.
  • Then we cooled down.

My distance kids: generally our distance kids will do the two aerobic sets a little bit more.  They will be longer, same concept.  And usually I have them do the last set the same; although on this day we did do some more stuff that is a little more pertinent to distance.  So they just did the Cruise-1 a little bit longer sets.  And their freestyle set there, descending, was longer.  Sometimes I write stuff at the bottom there that I want them to think about.


As far as the morning session.  I said we go Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings; well Saturday too, but I am counting that as an afternoon practice.  We have about an hour and fifteen minutes is all the time we have.  And Chesterton is really an academic school, so I just cannot see having these kids come in real, real early when I know that they are up late studying.  So we just… an hour and fifteen minutes, and we have got to get it done.  And we will do about a 1,000 yards of warm-up, we will do about a 2,000 yard set of usually Cruise-3 or Cruise-3+.  I will not do Cruise-1 or -2 in the morning.  And then we will do a short speed set: 400-600 yards or whatever.  That is kind of our morning session.  And then Tuesday, Thursday morning, we will do an hour of dryland and weights.



As far as test sets that I like to do.  I talked a little bit about the 100-predictor: 6×50 on 2:00.  I got that from Bob Steele.  Push-off, double your average, and it is really close to what you can go in a 100.  And I used to just do it for that, to see where we are at; and I just decided: why not use it as a training tool, do it once a week.  And I think the way he did it is you do six of them like that, and once you can do six at the pace you want, then you move it up to eight, and then I think you move it up to ten.


A 200 predictor, like we talked, about is 5×100 on 3:00, double the average.  There is one for the 500 too, that is I think 6×250.  And I have tried it and I just I did not like it, so I do not usually do that one.  One I do like to do for my 500 kids is 20×50, leaving on 45, trying to hold their 500 pace.  And I do not know why twenty, I guess just because I feel like you have got to do more of it.  But that is a good set… that you get those kids who like to go out too fast, you can control them little bit, you can reel them in.  And you get them to hold a better pace all the way through and then maybe get them to really hammer the last five.


I am sure a lot of you have done in the University of Michigan prediction program that Jon Urbanchek did: 6x or 8×100 on 8:00.  And there is a formula that you can take your average and multiply it and it gives you a 100 and 200.  And I could send it to you, if anybody wanted it.


The last thing I want to kind of finished with you, and then I would be happy to answer any questions, are just some of my favorite little sets and things.  After our first part of warm-up… you know, we will get-in and we will do 500 or 400 or 200 free-200 back or whatever, just like everybody does.  Then we will get on the blocks and we will do what we call fly kicks.  But I will start them and I will start my watch, and they are going down [the pool] and they are dolphin kicking.  And I will blow a whistle at 6 seconds, and they will break-out there and see how far they have gotten.  Somewhere, a long time ago, I read that world-class swimmers get to 15m in 6 seconds—you know, it is more like 5-something now.  So I just decided I would do that.  And then the idea is you do it every single day, and you are trying to get them, over the course of the season, to be better underwater.  And they really do.  And it gives you one good control start at the beginning of practice before they are tired and they can do it right.  So anyway I do that, I start practice that way, every day.


I talked about the Lochte kick set.  What that was, Gregg Troy at that clinic—and it was in a high school pool, so you just have got to imagine it.  But had him kick on his back, flutter kick, just letting the momentum keep him against the wall, hard as he could for a minute.  Then he blew the whistle, and he went underwater and went 25 underwater, sprint kick.  And the idea behind that is: by kicking at the wall, getting your legs tired to begin with; and then going underwater, just like it would be off of a turn, when you are already tired and your legs are already shot.  To me that makes sense too.  So we usually do not do a minute, we will do 30 or 45 seconds on our back, or sometimes on our front.  You can even do on your front, and then when you blow the whistle have them flip turn and push-off.  And they are getting idea of coming-off at the right angle—that is pretty good too.


I started doing… I was with the bunch of coaches, discussing some stuff the other day, and we brought this up.  Sometimes with underwaters, I feel like if you have them do a bunch of 25s—and again after Bob Bowman’s talk, I am going to be rethinking some things.  But if you have them do, I do not know, 25s or whatever, sometimes it becomes just survival kicking.  They are down there, they are holding their breath, and they are kind of kicking.  You know, what are they really getting out of that?  Besides some breath control.


So I started… our pool is 20 yards across, so I just turned them around.  And we go to one side; and now it is a shorter distance and they have to sprint-kick under there.  Originally, I liked the idea because the lane lines are in your way, so it makes it less convenient to come up.  So I started doing it that way.  So I like to do that too.  But now, after hearing Bob Bowman talk, I am probably going to do it on a longer interval than I do—and God, I think everybody has got to be aware of that. [Kinel is referring to Bowman’s “Shallow-Water Blackouts” talk.]


Extended 50s, this is a great one.  And I got this—and I wish I knew who the person was because I would love to give them credit—one of those Councilman Creative [Coaching] award things that is out here.  I read this on a website one time; it is called Extended 50s.  Our pool is a 25-yard stretch designs, so we have a bulkhead and we can go 25 yards or 25 meters, and you know with a diving well there.  Well this set, and you can make the interval anything, but they push-off and they sprint to the first 25.  They have to get out.  Then they dive off of the bulkhead into the diving well, and they do underwater dolphin kick to the wall.  Grab a breath—or I suppose you could just not breath.  But then dolphin kick back to the bulkhead, climb themselves out, dive back in, and sprint that last 25.


So they are getting some speed-work in.  They are getting a little bit of strength work in—lifting themselves out at the bulkhead.  They are diving in and going right into a dolphin kick.  So they are getting some dives, but they are also getting some fun—kids love that, when they do that.  And then they are also getting some finish work.  And the second 25 they are dead, because they have just lifted themselves out and they have breath control with the underwater kick.  So I think it is a good one.  It is a lot of fun.


The last one that I am going to leave with you is one that I got from Bob Steele, that he says was from Bob Bowman.  And calls it Phelps 50s.  This is a great kick set. And this is kicking like with a board, this is not an underwater thing.  But you take an interval that your kid could make that would be real-hard for them to make 5×50 on.  So, you know for math, let us say that it is 50 [seconds] and short course.  You know it is probably tops for them.  Okay?  So we are going to call that 50 their hard pace, 55 would be a moderate pace, and 1:00 would be an easy pace.


So the way this set goes is: on the first round you do 1 easy, 1 moderate, 1 fast.  So 1:00, 55, 50.  The second round you do: 1 easy, 1 moderate, 2 fast.  Third round: 1 easy, 1 moderate, 3….  1-1-4, 1-1-5.  It is great.  And then… and I have never, I have not, got there, but I think with Michael Phelps, he started doing that 100s.  So it is a neat concept.


So that is kind of the end of what I had prepared; I hope that I have given you something.  This design really works for me and I hope that out of all of this you find something that is appealing and something that you can maybe use.  I can give you my email, if you want it.




[audience member]:  With non-club swimmers in high school, it is tough enough to commit to 5 afternoons.  This year, my team is switching to mornings, and we have had a big uproar and the parents are frustrated with it.  How do you get the commitment for a high school team to 11 practices a week and how many actually come to all of them?


[Kinel]:  She asked: how do you get them to commit to 11 practices a week and stuff.  And obviously that is if we do not have meets, for 11.  But my answer is: it does not happen overnight. You have to work at it and you will get some of the kids to commit.  Or maybe do not go to every morning, do it… you know, start out by going 3 mornings a week, or something like that, and try it.  But you have got to start somewhere.  And once you get a few to commit, you will start to get others.  And once you start to have some success, it will be a little easier.  And you know, I do not know any other way.




[audience member]:  Do you teach too?


[Kinel]:  I do. Yeah, it is a long day.  It is… you know it sounds crazy but every single year, there is some point during the year where I feel like I am going to get out of it because it is just not worth it, I am so frustrated.  And people are smiling: you have been there.  I am so frustrated with it, etc.


And my wife who works in an office in Chicago tells me all the time: You’d better think about that because you do not realize the affect you have on everybody.  You know you go into work and you get to affect people’s lives, and I sit behind a desk and just do numbers and stuff.  And she says she will trade with me.  So it is rough, but it is so rewarding.


[audience member]:  When will you do your first test set?


[Kinel]:  Probably after we have been in the water for about two weeks.  Because, to be honest, I do not want it to be real good. I want them to see improvement, and psychologically I think that helps a lot.


[audience member]:  How long is your season?


[Kinel]:  Well, technically, our girls’ first practice is October 20, and the boys is like November 7 or something.  And then our State meet is for the girls mid-February and the end of February for the boys.


But we will start conditioning last Tuesday; right after Labor Day, we started conditioning.  And now it is volunteering and the kids can come and we run.  The IHSAA [Indiana High School Athletic Association], which is the governing body in Indiana, says that you can only have 3 contacts of your sport; so we could only be in the water Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  But you can do run, lift, that kind of stuff; other days.


So what I do is I start then, I have a callout meeting, I have everybody in.  And I say: those of you that have been swimming all summer, we offer a what we call a Fall membership and it is kind of a discounted thing.  They get their USS number and they join our swim club.  And for a nominal fee, I have them go mornings on those Tuesday and Thursdays when we are not in the water in the afternoon.  And it is a way to keep the whole team together, after school.  But I get those kids that need it to come-in those mornings.  That is how I do it.


You know I know there is a lot of people in Indiana that will just have everybody join their club.  But for me, I do not want them to have to pay a ton of money, and I want those Mikes that swim with their head out of the water and eventually who will help me.  And I want… and there is a bunch of Indiana coaches here: we have a huge rivalry with Munster in our area, and it is just a real-big rivalry.  A couple of years ago, they should have beat us and we tied them; because I had two kids go 50.1 or 50.2 on B relays, that never swam club or anything.  They just came-out their freshman year, and as seniors they are helping me tie a big competitor and stuff.  It is just cool.  So I get as much kick out of those kids as I do you know the Kyle Whitakers and all of them.




[audience member]:  Who are you main participants in the high school?  Are you sharing your athletes with a club coaches?


[Kinel]:  No, all my kids are training with me.  And that is an advantage I have that some do not, for sure.  But I also do… like I am also our club coach.  And here is something too, that I have never been able to understand how high school and club coaches do not try to work together; I mean it is in everybody’s best benefit.  For me, I have got a good situation; and I have a great club coach that has things in perspective: kids have fun until they get to me and get tortured.  They have fun and they like the sport and he is a big kid.  Jim Voss is who I am talking about, for the Indiana people; just incredible.




[audience member]:  So if you have a guy on your team that swims for a different club team than your high school, would you allow that or does he have to swim for your club?


[Kinel]:  Like in the summer?  Or afterwards?  During season, I would not allow it.  If they are going to swim on our high school, and we have regulations of that too.  I mean if they are going to swim in high school; they have got to swim in high school, they have got to practice with us.


[audience member]:  Just to clarify, in Indiana during the high school season, club kids have to swim high school not club.  So that is in Indiana.


[Kinel]:  Right, yeah so we do not have some of those issues.


[audience member]:  When you are setting up your sets, do you go that rest interval or do you create intervals that estimate that?


[Kinel]:  Yeah.  Well I do my lane assignments by cruise times, so that it kind of works.  And by times not necessarily by stroke.  You know to me it does not matter if a kid has a cruise time of 1:15 in the backstroke, I think he is okay going with a freestyler that has a 1:15.  Or even a breaststroker—I do not think that matters.  I do not think it matters if it is a girl or boy, either.


So I assign the lanes by cruise intervals.  And that is a learning curve; you have got to get them to buy-into it.


Alright.  Well, I think I have gone a little bit over, but I really appreciate.



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