The Development of National 400 IM Champ Katie Hoff by Paul Yetter (2004)


North Baltimore Aquatic Club – Coach of Katie Hoff, 400 IM National Champion.  Paul Yetter coaches for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.  In 2004, Paul guided 15 – year old Katie Hoff to a USA Olympic Team berth in the 400 IM and 200 IM. Over the last two years, Paul’s swimmers have broken 25 National Age Group records, over 40 Maryland State Records, and have achieved 23 #1 National Age Group rankings, including a 1-2 ranking in both the long course and short course 200 Butterfly.  Paul’s swimmers have won National, Sectional, and Zone Championships. Paul has a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin, and he lives in Baltimore with his girlfriend Amy and his two cats, Ollie and Jorge.




We are going to go off of the handout throughout the whole talk today. [Editor’s note:  Handout is at the end of this presentaton.]I would like to thank ASCA for inviting me here and I would like to thank Murray Stevens who is also here as the head coach of North Baltimore Aquatic Club for helping me and giving me a shot and providing me with pool time and providing me with a group of kids that have developed over the last couple of years.


I would like to tell you today about Katie Hoff.  I have been coaching Katie since August of 2003 when she joined our team at NBAC. I am going to go through pretty much what is on this handout.  I am probably not going to go in the order that it is listed, but I am probably going to cover all of these points.  The first thing that I would like to talk about is the first time that I saw Katie swim a 400 IM.  I saw her swim at long course Nationals in College Park, Maryland last August. This was about three weeks before she joined our team at NBAC and I knew that she was going to be with us. So I watched her swim with a lot of interest because I wanted to see what she did in that pool. I thought that maybe I could get a little bit of insight into where we were going with this kid.  It is interesting because I went up to the top of the stands to watch because it was packed.  Michael Phelps was swimming and everybody was down on pool deck. So I went up to the top so I could get a good view and see what she was doing. As I sat down, I noticed that I was sitting kind of close to her mom. So I watched the race with her mom and right before the race started her mom looks over at me and she says, “if Katie goes out under 1:06 she says I need to pray for her.”  So, she went out that day in a 1:04.1 and we started praying a little bit. She was so far ahead of everybody, she was probably three or four seconds ahead. By that time that it was apparent that she was going to win the heat and she just kind of took over and ran away with the race.


If you have ever seen her race you know, that she just kind of goes for it. It is one of her many charms in that she just sort of lights it up and goes for it and goes real hard at everything that she does.  When I saw her go 1:04.1 I got real excited because 1:04.1 is a good enough split in my opinion to make the Olympic Trial finals.  I didn’t feel like she had to be a heck of a lot faster in that part of her swim to make the Olympic Trial final so this talk today is about how we got better at a lot of other different aspects of Katie’s swim. We are going to talk a lot about her splits and about her strokes and that type of thing. One thing was for sure at that point in time she didn’t need to get much faster on the front end of the swim.  I felt like we needed to work on some technical aspects of her butterfly and some technical aspects of other strokes too, but speed in the fly was not one of those things. What I would like to do right now is go through some technical things that we did for each particular stroke.


I would like to start with the fly because that is first. If you look on your handout you can see two pictures.  One of those pictures is a picture of a poorly swum butterfly and you can see that the head is cranked way up and the body position I think is pretty bad. The arms are bent. Then in the picture on the right you can see that it is a better body position. Her neck is flat as she is breathing and her arms are straight. To me it just looks a little bit better. That is one of the changes that we made with her butterfly stroke.


We didn’t make it right away.  We made it over the first two months. We didn’t make it over the first two weeks because I was just getting to know Katie and I didn’t want to put too much on her plate right away. Still it was certainly one of the things that we did first. I should say that it was really pretty easy to make some of these changes that we made with Katie because her attitude is just unbelievable. When she comes to practice she wants to do really well.  I don’t remember any time when this girl has come into the pool and been like she didn’t really want to be there.  She always wants to be there.  She is early.  She stays late.  A lot of the time she is the first person there and she is the last person to leave. So as we talk about the stroke stuff and as we talk about the development that she did through her training and that type of thing, you have got to understand that I am not pulling teeth.  I am not working with somebody that is hard to deal with.  She is pretty easy to deal with so when I ask her to do something she tries her best to do it.  It is just kind of up to me to figure out what it is that she needs to do.


So, back to the butterfly.  We went to make that change and she made it pretty quickly.  The main thing that we did was I asked her not to lift her chin as much and I asked her not to breathe so much with her face.  I asked her to breathe more with her eyes. I wanted her to breathe with her eyes like this and I didn’t want her to do this. So she kind of got good at breathing with her eyes looking forward and her mouth was kind of angled down.  You can see in the right photo that it almost looks like her mouth is hardly getting out of the water.  It is at a 45 degree angle down, just enough to get a little bit of a breath.  We worked on, instead of lifting the chin, kind of lifting the neck. So instead of making this motion with the face, she kind of made this type of motion with her neck and it enabled her to just kind of flow across the top of the water.  I didn’t need her to go faster, but I needed her to do it a little bit easier.  We were going to be working on some things with backstroke. I didn’t want her to have to feel like she needed somebody to pray for her during that part of the race.  She needed to feel comfortable with swimming her backstroke well. By doing the butterfly easily, as easily as she can, while maintaining her speed, I felt like it would help the rest of her race and that was the goal.  So as far as fly goes, that was our main thing that we worked on. To just swim it a little bit easier and just get out there without hurting herself was the main goal.


Moving on to backstroke. You can see that with her backstroke she has made quite a progression.  She has gone from a 1:16.1 to 1:11.5 at trials.  She was 1:11.2 at the Santa Clara Meet.  1:16 doesn’t cut it.  You are not going to be in a position to win the race if you are going 1:16 so we knew that we had to make some changes.  As far as technically, what we noticed was she liked to enter with the top of her hand and she would smack her hand down as she was putting it in the water. I think when you do that you don’t get a very good catch on the water.  It takes you a little bit too long to get that catch. When you do get that catch you are not getting a very good catch so it had to change.  What we did was #1 we focused on it a little bit. You know, when Katie wants to do something and she knows it is important then she focuses on it. She just does it. Then the other thing is we did a drill that I call the AOK drill which is you make an AOK sign like this and you put the hole in like that so that the hole goes in the water and your palm is kind of going in first. She made the correction and did what we wanted her to do. By telling her to put her palm in first and to put the hole in the water first, she was able to actually get her pinkie in first which is really what we wanted.  The other thing is with doing the AOK drill your pinkie is, if you do it naturally like this, your pinkie is apart from the rest of your hand so it is a little bit easier to get that pinkie in first.  We are still working on that. Actually all this stuff we are going to talk about today technically, as far as the workouts go, we are still working on. Still she got better at that pretty much right away.  That was one of those things where during the first month of practice she was working on that and she was getting better at that right away.


Probably backstroke is the stroke where we made the most drastic improvement and the most drastic change immediately.  The other thing she had to do on backstroke was get a little bit better off her push offs. For off her walls she worked on kicking a little bit better on her band. We just tried to get her kicking times down. She worked specifically on pushing off the wall and kicking better off the wall. Kicking better off the wall is another thing that we are still in the process of getting better at.  She is not exactly where she needs to be with that, but she got a lot better over the first couple of months of training just focusing on being a little bit more powerful off her wall and also kicking a little bit more and kicking a little bit harder and kicking a little bit faster.  With her backstroke kick I noticed as she first started with us at NBAC she would kick 100’s at about the pace that she swam long course 100’s. She would kick her long course time short course so, if she was a 1:16 long course splits on her 400 IM I noticed that she was kicking right around there when she was kicking real fast. I wanted her to kick faster and I wanted her to get her kicking time down as low as she could go. It got to the point after a couple of months where she could go four 100’s on 1:30 short course kicking and kick 1:11 on all four of them. So I think that she made some progressions with the kicking that directly correlated with her split time and her long course swim.  I don’t think that is going to work for everybody.  I think you have some kids that are just great kickers.  I feel like Katie when she started with us was a mediocre to poor kicker and now I think she is a mediocre to pretty good kicker. So that is where we were going with backstroke.


With breaststroke, if you have seen Katie swim, she swims with a really high tempo and a really high turnover and that is not really the stroke that I teach young kids to do. I was caught a little bit.  It was her best stroke.  It was the stroke that she did at Nationals.  She did the IM’s and the breaststroke and she made it back to I think the C final or the B final in the breaststroke so I didn’t want to mess with it too much, especially right away. So with breaststroke we came up with a couple of different goals that were really small goals that I felt that she could accomplish that could help her get better at her stroke that she does.  Again, breaststroke is something that we are continuing to work on to this day.  So, here are the things that we worked on with breaststroke.  Number one, we worked on kicking just like we worked on it with backstroke.  Her breaststroke kicking times correlated perfectly with her long course split times when she came to NBAC.  She would kick a little bit over 1:20’s, between 1:20 and 1:25’s, when she was going all out kicks. When she was kicking 50’s real fast she would kick about 40 seconds or maybe a little bit under. That was about what her 200 IM pace was so we worked on getting these kick times down. I think that she did a pretty good job of that this year.  We are not as low as we want to be right now, but we are getting there.


The other thing we worked on with breaststroke was we worked on her pull-out and we worked on squeezing real tight, not only on the streamline, the initial streamline, but when she went down into her pull. We worked on squeezing real tight here with her whole body and getting herself to be real tight all the way through that pull-out. Then we also worked on as she was coming up. She was kind of going into her breakout stroke, re-establishing a real tight squeeze.  So, she was in a real tight squeeze when she pushed off the wall.  She pulled down and was real tight again and then as she came up she was re-establishing a really tight body position as she broke out. To me, that is pretty fundamental and I think for Katie it helped her because she was able to take more velocity into that first stroke.  We worked on the first three strokes of each length.  That was it.  I didn’t want to mess with her stroke any more than that at first.  I wanted her to make sure she was getting a really powerful squeeze with her body position coming off the pull-out and I wanted her to take that squeeze and that tightness and that velocity through her first three strokes.  Somebody like Katie with a high tempo breaststroke has just got to try to maintain that tempo and they have got to try to maintain that power that they are taking with the tempo as they are going down the pool. So that was our technical focus for breaststroke.


For freestyle, I liked her freestyle a lot more than I think the rest of her strokes when she got to NBAC. I didn’t try to change her free too much. But you should know that when I saw her swim that first 400 IM I watched her do something that makes me absolutely cringe. Going into her last and final turn she took a big breath on one side and then immediately took another breath onto the other side. That just hurts me to watch and so we really worked on not doing that.  We worked on keeping the neck flat.  We look under the T instead of at the T so that the head is not like that. The neck is flatter going into the turn. We worked on taking at least one stroke no breath going into the wall. Although we are trying to do two strokes going into the wall without a breath.  I think you can flip faster.  I think you get a better view of the wall and so you are going to get a better push off when you do that. That was really the main thing that we worked on with her freestyle.  We also worked on her kicking with freestyle.  The same thing with backstroke applies for freestyle.  She just tended to come off the wall and float up and not really get power going into her swim which is a pretty powerful stroke. I felt the better a freestyle kicker she was, the better she would be coming off the wall and the more speed she would take going into her first couple of strokes.


So, technically, that is where we went with Katie’s swims and her swimming on a daily basis.  We kept it short.  We pretty much just had a couple of different things to focus on and we really tried to make sure that those things were real good.  Now I would like to tell you a little bit about training and workouts. I am going to talk to you first about the first time that I saw Katie train.  I think it is important to watch kids when you are just kind of getting to know them and see what they do.  I believe in seeing what they do without you yelling at them to do something better so you can really see what their tendencies are. The first lap she swam with NBAC when she actually visited our team to make sure that it was the kind of place that she wanted to be, she swam down the pool on the first length of our warm-up and did that double breath thing. So right there it solidified to me, well, this has got to stop. I knew at that point we really had to go to work on that.


I would like to tell you about the workout that we did on that day because the workout really gave me some insight into what Katie needed to do better, what she needed to get better at through the course of the fall to improve her split on her freestyle and to improve her overall swimming.  The set we did that day was we swam three sets of five 200’s freestyle and we took a minute rest in between each set of five.  After the third set we did a set of five 100’s freestyle.  I put the intervals on 2:40 for the first round.  We are in a yard pool.  I put them on 2:35 for the second round and I put them on 2:30 for the third round which is pretty medium intervals. We tend to not really crank the intervals down too far.  We also don’t want to have them sitting on the wall for too long so I would define the type of interval training that we do as medium interval type training.  So, we are doing these 200’s last year when I was kind of on a little kick with my group of swimmers where I would want them to hit a certain time and I would try to get them to hit it exactly on the nose.  I don’t normally do that because I like to let the kids go and just kind of see how fast they can go. I don’t normally put limits on what the kids are supposed to do and what kind of times they are supposed to do, but the group that I had was responding pretty well to that type of work. I felt it would be a good type of workout to do on that particular day. What I asked the kids to do was to go the first five 200’s at 2:08. The game that we played was they were to go 1:04, 1:04.  It is huge at NBAC to even split.  It doesn’t count if it is not even, particularly on freestyle training.  To us, it doesn’t matter what the total time is. It matters what you are doing after you have kind of swum a little bit and the times that you are doing toward the end of the repeats or what you are going to repeat in the race.


So the game was for the kids to all kind of swim along and flip on 1:04 flat and go 1:04 flat and be 2:08 flat. Since we were doing five of them I felt that if they were to do the first one and go 1:04/1:05 then I could easily say, well you just need to flip a little faster on your second 100 or something like that and even it up and just try to do that over and over again.  After they have got that then maybe they can make sure that their stroke count is the same throughout the 200.  You know, we can play little games like that so we make sure that they are being real efficient. My kids that I had on the team had done the set a couple of times before or that type of set before. They were pretty good at that and they would come in and they would pretty much go 1:04/1:04 thus we started out the set real well.  Katie didn’t do that.  Katie had to go 1:03/l:04. So I said okay Katie, after the first one, that’s good, just a little too fast, it’s okay. We have 14 more of these. Let’s just make a game of it. Let’s go 1:04/1:04 and see if you can do it.  I think it is a skill to be able to hit that time and to know what you are doing with the splits. I was trying to see if she could do that. She pushed off on the second one and she went 1:02/1:04 and now she is at a 2:06. I thought to myself, well okay.  I didn’t want to get real frustrated and I certainly didn’t want her to get very frustrated so we tried one more time. She still couldn’t do it.  She likes to get out there in front.  It doesn’t really make sense for her to train and not be out there in the front. After she did the third one she was pretty much the same 1:02/1:04. I said okay Katie you know, you are just too fast. I guess you can just go ahead and go 2:06, but let’s try to do 1:03/1:03. She was pretty successful doing that.  She was able to go 1:03/1:03 and so we swam the next couple of 200’s like that.


We are taking a minute rest on the wall and everybody is getting a drink and they are kind of sitting around giggling and stuff and I am telling people what to do. Okay now let’s flip a little faster. Let’s try to streamline a little bit better.  Katie you don’t need to do anything different.  You are already going 1:03/1:03.  You are right where you need to be because the second round of 200’s I wanted a 2:06 – 1:03/1:03. I figured well this is a piece of cake, she has just got to keep doing what she is doing…not the case.  She had to go out in a 1:02 and go 1:02/1:03. We went through the same thing for the next set of five 200’s. I would say well okay, try to go 1:03 again.  She couldn’t do it.  She would go 1:01/1:03 and so we dealt with that. She basically that day had to have a little bit of a different thing going on where she was just a little bit faster than everybody else.  The goal though was still the even split whatever it was that she did.  I let them go at the end on the five 100’s on 1:15 and I kind of just let them swim. I think she went .57 on all five of them. I thought to myself, well this is pretty good you know, we are going to get this kid next year and she is 14 and she is going 57’s. I am adding all that up and that is between a 4:45 and a 4:50 to me, so she is a 4:59, 500 freestyle at that point in time so my excitement continues.  I continue to get psyched about this girl coming to our team and I continue to get psyched about what she can do in terms of training, but the insight that I got with her was she has got a heck of a lot of speed. If the only thing she does is even split, she is going to end up being pretty fast.  If she is able to go a 57 on five 100’s in a row, I bet that we can get her to go 57/57 if she just gets good at even splitting. So that was really the main focus that we had with her training, especially her freestyle training over the first couple of months of the season.


With Katie we tried to get this kid with a lot of easy speed to even split her swims.  If you look at her splits for a 400 IM, she was out in 1:04 in August and back in a 1:07.8. Because she was so far ahead of everybody in the C final of Nationals, she was able to, when she evened it up…well first of all, she was only in the C finals so she was able to win that by a lot, but she was able to swim with some more accomplished swimmers by evening. That picked her pace up a little bit and you can see by the time we got to trials she was pretty even 1:03.5/1:04.1. If you take into account the dive they are pretty even splits.  Time matters a lot at NBAC. It is our main focus.  We want race pace swimming and we want race pace swimming all the time.  If we have what we would consider to be kind of a recovery type of workout a lot of the times we will put on the fins. Even if they are swimming a little bit slower and they are working not quite as hard, they are still going race pace. We try to make sure that happens just about every day.  A lot of what we do is based on lap speed and it is based on what you are doing per 25.  It is based on what the last 25 of a repeat is or the last 50 of a repeat is, not what the total time is.  It is real important that she understand that as we go into talking a little bit more specifically about the workouts that she has done.


One of the things we consciously did last year with Katie is we started the season by doing some speed type of training which is a little bit backwards from what I have done in the past and what I know a lot of us do which is we pile on a lot of yards.  We build up endurance.  We make sure that they are physically fit.  We focus on doing a certain thing with energy systems and that kind of thing which we don’t really do. We try to get the endurance I think a little bit too much without getting the speed. What we did this year was we made sure that we always had speed.  If we did an endurance type of workout like ten 300’s freestyle or something like that, almost all the time we would warm it down for a few hundred and then we would pop a fast 50 for time. We would do that not to get an increasingly faster time as we went through the season, but we would do that to stay in touch with our speed. I would know, based on those times, if somebody was getting really beat down and we were doing too much endurance work.  If their times were a couple of tenths off, a half a second off, no problem.  We have still got our speed, but if somebody who pushes off the wall and goes 24 seconds for a 50 freestyle at the end of practice and one particular week goes up to a 25.9 I am starting to look back at our weekly plan and think to myself, well, what did we do?  Maybe we did a little bit too much in terms of endurance and not enough speed.  Even for young girls where we are trying to get their aerobic capacity up and we are trying to get them to swim further faster we have got to make sure that the speed is there.  In particular, for Katie, I felt like that was real important because she is such a fast swimmer.  She is such a powerful swimmer that to lose that aspect of her swimming would completely ruin her training so we really wanted to make sure that we kept in touch with the speed.


Okay, there are a couple of other things that we did in terms of training that we worked on that I think really helped Katie improve. One of them I have touched on a little bit and that is kicking, but I would like to touch on it in a little bit of a different way right now.  You know, Katie wasn’t a very good kicker when she got to NBAC.  She was, as I said before, a mediocre kicker to a poor kicker. When she got in the lanes with the rest of our group at NBAC she found that she would be really fast on the swimming and the pulling aspects of our training and just about on everything that we did she would be leading the lane. She would be just crushing people.  With the kicking, she would have to go third in line or maybe second in line, but she was not going first. That really made her mad because she really does not like not going first.  She doesn’t really consider herself to have won the workout and to have done real well at the workout if she is doing it going second or third in line.  It makes her mad and so when we kicked she would have to work I think in a different way.  She would have to work a little bit harder and just kind of different in a more intense way to keep up with everybody…to keep up with people that she knew she was faster than. She eventually got to be one of the better kickers in my senior group that I had last year.  Probably, she was in the top three or four, whereas she was probably in the bottom three when we started the season.  She works pretty hard and she doesn’t really want to not progress so she just set her sights on being the best kicker. She is now a pretty good kicker because of the type of work that we did. We do quite a bit of kicking. It really has helped her mentally to have to chase people in practice.  She wasn’t doing it when we did ten 400’s freestyle.  She wasn’t doing it when we trained breaststroke as much as when we were kicking breaststroke, nor as much as when we were kicking IM kick or kicking freestyle kick. So she had to be motivated in a different way and be just a little bit more intense maybe than when she was swimming.


Another thing that we worked on a lot was breathing, specifically, breathing during breaststroke swimming.  With somebody with such a high tempo breaststroke I think those kids tend to hyperventilate a little bit because as they are going through their stroke they tend to not exhale very well.  If they have a real high tempo they don’t have enough time to blow out all of their air, particularly with a 400 IM long course swim. If you are hyperventilating going down on that first 50, you are going to hit acidosis real quick and it is going to really hurt coming home. That is when you really fade at the end of the race when you start not getting enough air. I noticed with Katie that she was doing that a little bit and one of the things that I thought about was maybe she is not exhaling very well in her breaststroke.  Come to find out that that was correct. She was not exhaling very well so she just thought about it a little bit more and she just worked on exhaling a little bit better and just a little bit more often. Thus when she was swimming down the pool she wasn’t getting into the hyperventilation mode.  She wasn’t blowing out, taking in, blowing out, taking in and not taking in full breaths.  She was blowing air out and then she was able to take in a fuller breath of air which I think warded off fatigue a little bit better than when she was doing her breathing so rapidly.  I think particularly that helped her with her freestyle.  So it not only helped her breaststroke split and her breaststroke swimming, but I think in the IM it helped her come home on that last 50 a little bit better.


We are now going to talk about some specific workouts and you can flip over and you can look and see that we have got some workouts there and they are all backstroke.  I made them all backstroke because I wanted to show you a progression and the types of progressions that we make with our stroke training at NBAC. I wanted to give you a little bit of an insight as to how we think about how the kids train.  First off you should know we train mostly in a short course pool throughout the year.  I think that Katie trained probably less than 15 times long course before she swam at Olympic Trials. I will add that one of the moves that we kind of didn’t make was when we did get the option to swim a little bit more long course in the summer. It happened to be right about the time when we were getting into the phase of the season where we were focusing on Olympic Trials. I think long course training sometimes beats you down a little bit and so we made sure that we didn’t go too much long course. In fact, we did most of our long course training in April and over Christmas. We have got to have a way to convert times that is at least some kind of way to think about the times so that we can know if we are doing some race pace swims. So here is the conversion that I use. I think 225 yards is about the same as 200 meters so if you go off of lap speed or 25 length speed you can figure out long course pace off of a 225 yard swim.  Let’s say for instance, you are going a 2 minute 200 yard swim.  We are going to say that is 15 seconds a length and of course you have to split that evenly for it to be 15 seconds a length, but if it is split evenly, you add a 25 to that so you add 15 seconds and you get 2:15. We feel like if you go 2 minutes in a yard pool you are going about 2:15 pace for long course or somewhere around there. That is kind of the conversions that we use. You can think about that as you are looking at these workouts that we did and you can kind of think about where her race pace is with that type of conversion.


The object of this part of the talk is to show you how her training relates to her race so we will be talking about the sets, but we will be talking about the splits that she has done on her race as we talk about the sets.  The first set that I have indicated here is in October of last year, about a year ago. You can see there that we did a 900 of just some mixed up swimming and drilling and kicking, mainly with the backstroke stroke focus, although not all of it was backstroke. Then we did a set of twelve 75’s after that and we went through that set four times. Each time we went through the set the amount of 75’s that we did decreased and the interval got a little bit harder, but interval is never really an issue. The interval on all of these sets is never an issue.  I mainly indicated the interval to let you know that it is not an issue and it is not part of what we are trying to do in terms of us not trying to crank the interval down real far.  We want these guys to swim fast and so whatever the interval is to make them swim fast or to have them be able to swim fast, that is the interval we are going to choose. You can see on that set she progressed. We are doing every fourth one fast all the way through with the final set of only two of them just kind of going one easy and then one real fast.  She got down to 42.1.  She is pacing 14 seconds a length. I don’t think she split it quite evenly on that but she is at least 15 seconds a length on that so she is going 2:15 pace which you ought to take down to 1:07.5 pace. So early in the season she is doing 400IM pace that is very significantly faster than what she has done in the past.  In the yard pool, coming into our season, she was a 2:07 short course 200 backstroker and in her 100 backstroke I believe she was a 58 high or a 59 flat. By going 42.1, I felt like that was a pretty big improvement off of even her best 100 time. She was ready I thought at that point to go her best time.  About two weeks after that we did a set which is kind of the same. We did it the same way where we would do an 800 of just some general swimming and then we would swim a pretty focused backstroke repeat. We would start off with a 300 and work our way down. We would go 300 and then a 250, a 200 and then a 150. We are trying to make that 150 real fast at the end, but we are also focusing on getting some pretty good speed on the 300 as well.  If they are going pretty fast on the 300, hopefully their speed per length comes down as they go through the set. Then we are looking for a real good one on the end and you can see she is 1:29 on the end so now a couple of weeks later she is able to go 150 yards at about 1:07.5 long course pace.  So, she is progressing.  She is able to just kind of hold that time for a little bit longer.


Moving on to the next workout which is eleven days later she made a pretty big jump where we did a set of forty 100’s and the intervals kind of worked up. We worked every fourth 100 backstroke on the first 16 and then every third on the next 12 and then every other on the next 8 and the final four on 1:35 we went as fast as you an go. We are just trying to get a little bit of speed at the beginning of the set and then as the fatigue grows we are trying to maintain that speed as long as we can.  So you can see there that Katie is going 59’s.  She went 59’s on every one of them, on the first twelve of them and then the last four when she is going them all in a row she averaged 1:01, 1:01.4. She was like 1:01.1, 1:01.4, 101.6, 101.7, something like that.  She did 1200 yards that day under a minute pace in the yard pool so she has gone from being able to do 150 on November 1 last year to then being able to go 1200 yards.  That is a pretty significant improvement in less than two weeks.  At that point in time I started getting pretty excited again about her progression.  What can she do at the end of the season?  I am thinking if she is already doing this and if she is making these kinds of gains then things are looking pretty bright.


Moving on, the next thing that I have indicated was our Christmas meet that we have at NBAC in December.  She swam a 200 back.  She went 2 minutes and her second 200 or second 100 of her 200 was a 1:01.4. You can see there that she trained that pace.  A couple of weeks before when she is going four in a row and she is really hurting a lot and she is trying her best just to maintain her time she is averaging 1:01’s on this final four 100’s. She is able to come back a few weeks later and she is there on her second 100 of her 200 so it wasn’t like she just kind of did it magically. She trained it, just like she trains everything else that she has done this year.  She has trained it to happen.  The next is in January we did a 400 backstroke and that 400 followed a set where we did two rounds of a 200 which was just general aerobic swimming, just kind of some mixed up stuff with a little bit of backstroke emphasis.


We came down and we did a 400 time trial at the end and I wanted her to split it a little bit better, but she was still trying to get better at that.  She wasn’t quite there yet and so she went 4:11 and she went 2:07.6 at the end of that.  I would like to note that I am going to round up to 2:08 right there and I would like to note that that is about 16 seconds per length. If you add 16 to 2:08 you get a 2:24 so for me she is going a 225 yard swim and she is going 2:24 so I am thinking she is about 1:12 pace per long course hundred off of that. If you follow my conversion at the end of the 400 she is fatigued.  She is swimming real hard.  She is going 1:12 pace and that is January 8 of 2004.  Then you can see at the February Nationals she did a month later and was able to drop her split down to a 1:12.8. That split was trained.  She did it in practice. It happened in practice and then she did it in a race.  She was able to do the fly a little bit easier at that point in time. She was focused and had confidence in her backstroke and she did it.  I think her time progression in backstroke at first had a lot to do with her technical changes that she made and then I think after the US Open in December I think that she kept her technique changes real good and she was able to progress with her training as you see here.


The following month after Nationals we swam in our short course championship meet in Maryland and that was when she went 4:08.4. That was a NAG record at that point in time by a few seconds. On that she split 1:02.1, so there you go again with her splits popping up.  She is pretty much hitting it right on the money.  She is easily programmed.  She does the times in practice and then she does them in the race.  I felt like she started training real well after that meet. When we got into April you can see on the next set she has made quite a bit of progression.  The same kind of set happened on April 14 that we had done earlier in the season where we just did some mixed up swimming. We did some just different strokes and a little bit of drilling and we would go three rounds of a set where you do 150 fast backstroke, take a hundred IM drill which is pretty moderate and then pop a fast 75. The times are supposed to come down for each round.  The time for the 75 is going to be faster than the 150 just because it is half the distance. Most kids are just going to go faster on the 75 so I asked the kids to go pretty fast on that final 150. Actually, when we are doing a set like this, I ask them to go pretty fast by the second round of three rounds. On that particular day Katie came down to 1:27.5 and 42.9 and she had about a minute and a half in between those two things.  When you add those two things up, a 150 plus a 75 you get 225. You add them up and I think it is a 2:10.5. So now we are really on 200 pace, long course pace.


About a month, well less than a month later, about three weeks later, we did a set that I really like to do. Katie finds that she does pretty well at it, but she doesn’t like to do it quite as much as I like watching it. She does a 200, then a 400 and a 600 and then an 800. The focus is on the 800 being real fast. We are trying to go pretty hard on the first round. I shouldn’t say pretty hard, we are trying to go pretty fast on the first round and then we are trying to get faster on the second round.  The 400 is supposed to be pretty good as well, although that is sort of not quite as good as the 800.  You can see, she came down to 8:26 and she came back in a 4:10.9 on that so now she is splitting under 1:02 for that final 400. She is just taking her splits to another level.  She continues with that progression on the next workout on June 7th. which is a month out of Trials. You can see, she is going a 57.8, a 2:00.5 and a 3:03 in the same workout for backstroke. I think that is pretty good backstroke swimming.


The next workout is short course meters. I threw that in there just to give you an indication about what we did as we got closer to Trials.  You know, it is a little bit of a softer workout.  She is not having to swim quite as hard for as long, but she is hitting those paces swimming short course meters times. They do not really correlate to the rest of the page, but you can figure it out.  She is going pretty good on those too.  She does a great job at relating her workout times to her splits.  It is a big deal for us at NBAC to do those times at practice. She has done a lot of her best times right in practice. I know for older kids it tends to be a little bit tougher to get them to do that, but I think for younger girls, for girls that are Katie’s age, they can swim those times in practice if you ask them to do it.  She has been 1:48 in practice for the 200 freestyle.  She has been 2 minutes, as you see, in 200 back.  She has pushed a 2:12 breaststroke and she has pushed a 1:27, 150 yard fly which are right on about where she has been for her short course routine or for her short course races when we race real hard.


I have a formula that I would like to share with you that I think about for 400 IM training and I use this formula with my kids and I think that it works for kids that are high school age.  I am not sure it works for kids that are older quit as well as it works for kids that are younger because I think that this formula has a lot to do with how well they swim aerobically, but the formula is this. You take a kid, you can try it with your swimmers and see if it works.  You take their best time for their 200 fly, the 200 back, the 200 breast and their 200 free and you add them up and you get an 800 time and then you take that 800 time and you divide it so you get a number that is like a 4 something or if they are real fast a 3 something and then you add 7-10 seconds to that number and that should be about your 400 IM time. The reason this formula works for me is when I look at a kid coming into our program, lets say they are a new swimmer, I am looking for what their weaknesses are and I am trying to get their weaknesses better.  There are a lot of us I think that have kids that are great flyers, backstrokers and freestylers that cannot swim breaststroke. If you do this formula, the breaststroke time is so slow that it really throws it off. If you can get that breaststroke time down and plug that into your formula then those kids are going to be a heck of a lot faster at their 400 IM.  I also like that formula in training for the 400 IM. We don’t focus just on training and IM. We try to get better at all the strokes.


We do more stroke training like you see here on the sheet than we do IM training.  We do more backstroke and breaststroke and freestyle days, butterfly days than we do IM days. I think if you focus too much on just trying to do a lot of IM’s then you are not going to get quite as much of an improvement as you are going to get if you are focusing on getting the times for each particular 200 of the stroke.  If you add up Katie’s times in August of last year for long course swimming they were 2:21 fly, 2:24 back, 2:34 breast and 2:07 long course free. You add those up and you get a 9:26, half it and you get 4:43. You then add 7 and you get her 4:50.  Her times now are 2:12, 2:16, 2:31 and 2:02.  You add those up and you get 9:01, half it and you get 4:30. You add 7 and you get 4:37.  It works just like that with Katie and it works just like that with a lot of the kids that I am coaching right now. I think it is a pretty neat formula and it is really motivational for the kids if you can sell them on it to get their weaknesses better.


I think another thing that is interesting to note is Katie’s times in the 200 breaststroke. Her time in the 200 breaststroke came down three seconds this year in the long course pool.  In the 400 IM her split for the 100 breaststroke split improved over 4 and a half seconds.  I don’t know what the heck is going on with that but I do know that it is interesting.  She is a lot faster swimming that breaststroke right now in the middle of that IM. I also think that it is interesting to note that her butterfly has improved from a 2:21 to a 2:12. Now she is in a position to race some of the best swimmers in the country in that race, but her butterfly split time in the IM has only come down .6 of a second. That really shows you that she can swim that swim a lot easier than she did a year ago and it has really helped the rest of her race.


The last thing I will leave you with is I think it is real important to keep your eye on the prize. When Katie made her improvement from 4:50 to 4:42 in February, I think the tendency was for us to kind of relax and say well, that’s pretty good.  She will probably make the Olympic Team doing that.  She would have made it in 2000 with a 4:42 and I think that most people say well you taper and you shave and you go real fast and then you know. Your next meet you do not have to go that fast because then you will taper and you will shave and you will go even faster.  Maybe if you have a 20 year old guy then you can kind of work like that and you can think like that, but I think that with teenaged girls and teenaged guys too, you have got to keep your eye on the prize and keep moving forward. We were not satisfied with a 4:42.  We tried to keep it moving and we definitely wanted to be faster than that, not only at Trials, but the very next time she swam the race.  I think it is important to keep that motivational thing going with your kids and it is hard to do, but I think it is our job as coaches to push them forward and to ask them to do that. Otherwise, they might not do it. I will leave you with that.


Questions.  The question was, “While Katie was doing these backstroke sets, what are the rest of the kids in the training group doing?  Are they doing backstroke too or is it just because it is Katie’s weakest stroke that we are doing that?”   We tend to work on each particular stroke at least once a week so we are hitting backstroke with everybody on that particular day. Then we are probably going to finish it with some breaststroke kicking and maybe do breaststroke later on in the week with everybody.


Okay, thanks a lot.



Month/Meet Fly Back Breast Free
August 03  (4:50.82) 1:04.1 1:16.1 1:22.8 1:07.8
Dec 03, US Open  (4:45.82) 1:03.6 1:13.9 1:22.5 1:05.6
Feb 04, National Champion


1:03.6 1:12.8 1:20.5 1:05.6
May 04  Santa Clara Champion


1:04.1 1:11.2 1:18.7 1:05.7
July 04, Olympic Trials Champion  (4:37.67) 1:03.5 1:11.5 1:18.2 1:04.1
Improvements -.6 -4.3 -4.6 -3.7   = -13.1


Paul Yetter — Backstroke Progression:  All Swims done Short Course Yards unless noted



900: 300 Fr-Ba-Br-Fr (415), 200 Back Dr/Sw (3), 200 Back Kick (320), 200 IM drill (315)

+ 12 x 75 Back ( 110) Descend 1-4 ( 49.0, 48.0,47.0)


+8 x 75 Back (105) Descend 1-4 (44.9,44.0)


+4 x 75 Back (I) Descend 1-4 (43.7)


+2 x 75 Back (55) Descend 1-2 (42.1)



800: 200 Fr, 200 Ba, 200 Br, 200 Fr (11: 15)

+300 Back @ 317.9


+250 Back @ 241.2


+ 200 Back @ 204.5


+150 Back @ 129.8




16: (120) every 4th fast Back Average 59

12: (125) every 3rd fast Back Average 59

8: (130) every 2nd fast Back Average 59

4: (135) all fast Back Average 1:01.4



200 Back @ 2:00.46 (58.3/1:01.1) @NBAC Christmas Meet



4400 Mixed Warm up

400 Back TT @ 4:11.8 (204.2/2:07.6)



400 IM @ 4:08.4 with a 1:02.1 Back split



3x:       600 Fr-Ba-Br-Fr, 300 Fr-Ba 200 Fr-Ba-Br-Fr, 150 Back*, 100 IM Drill, 75 Back**, 125 ez choice

150s @ 132.4 (RI), 130.6 (R2), 127.5 (R3)

75s @ 44.3 (Rl), 43.0 (R2), 42.9 (R3)



2x:       200 Fr-Ba-Br-Fr + 400 Back * + 600 Fr-Ba-Br-Fr + 800 Back **

400s @ 418 (Rl), 415.0 (R2)

800s @ 833.2 (Rl), 826.7 (R2) {826.7=415.6 + 410.9}



4×100 Back (120) Descend 1-4 @ 103,103,101, 57.8 + 5×100 (130) Mod Fr-Ba-Br-Fr

4×200 Back (245) Descend 1-4 @ 212,211,208,200.5 + 5xl00 (130)

4×300 Back (415) Descend 1-4 @ 322,319,314,303.2


6/24/04 ** Short Course Meters ***(switched to the pool we generally use during the summer in June)

6×100 (130) #3 fast @ 106.2, #6 faster @ 103.4

6×75 (115) #3 @ 49.0, #6 @ 46.4

6×50 (55) #3 @ 31.7 #6 @ 30.3

6×25 (30) #3 @ 14.6, #6 @ 14.4


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