Training for the Individual Medley by Ira Klein (2001)


Welcome and thank you.  I wanted to tell you how pleased I am to see this many people getting up this early on Saturday morning.  As I was sitting out having dinner last night at 11:30 at night I was wondering who was going be here.  I knew I had to get up but didn’t know if anyone else would.  They have been very kind to us,  Colorado Timing Systems gave all the speakers these clocks and all the speakers felt that we should donate them back to Fukuoka, Japan so that they can use them to time the races, so we wouldn’t have all the problems that we had this year.  It’s always a distinct honor to speak at any clinic, but at the World Coaches Clinic it becomes more of an honor.  It becomes a very scary situation because we are trying to present to our peers what we do and we are trying to express it so everybody can learn, but in the same token, it is not that you’re here being judgmental, but there is some judging going on.  When I started coming out here to give a talk or setting up to do it, John Leonard asked me to do two and the first one I was going to do was on tapering.  So, when we started talking I didn’t want to do something that comes up again at every clinic. A lot of people speak on backstroke and breaststroke and each of the individual swimming and sprinting comes forward and distance swimming, and it is rare that we get the talks on the IM, the individual medley.


The individual medley to me has always been the back burner of the program so that is why I wanted to bring it forward and talk to everybody about it.  Now, I am going to start off by telling, as I do in almost all of my talks that I’m giving you, my views of what I use in my program and usually what I do, and what I’ve gained from a lot of different coaches.  I just take it and make it unique to my situation.  There are many roads to success, and many ways of getting to the same point and I’m going to give you one example. We have a very competitive area in Southern California swimming with the top 9, 800-meter freestylers in the country this year for women. Four of them are from Southern California swimming and a very interesting part of that is, we are looking at one coming out of Nova, one coming out of Industry Hills, one coming out of Nelly Gail Gators, and one in Santa Barbara.  These are four very distinctly different programs, and all four have swimmers that are in among the top nine in their event.  I think that there is one thing that you find consistent in all those programs, the swimmers work hard on a consistent basis, but the style of the practices are very different.

Now, I’m going to be offering a view point here as we go through that is different from some others, that I would tell you to investigate, and I believe that Dick Shoulberg is one of the greatest IM trainers of the last 15/20 years.  There are things that he does in his program that his swimmers do, that I don’t know that I could talk my swimmers into doing, but it must work.  Now, going to my own program, I consider us an IM team and I know that all of us as coaches like to say, “Well, I coach everything.  If I have a breaststroker I coach breaststroke, if I’ve got a distance swimmer, I coach distance.”  And I believe in my program we do that well.  I’ve gone to nationals at the same time with somebody in the 50 and somebody in the mile, but I believe that we all have an area that we have a belief in, an interest in, or an affinity to.  And we don’t like to key hole ourselves, but some people are better distance coaches, some people do a better job in their sprint training, and some of us are great backstroke coaches.  It is rare to see a program, even the greatest program, that is continually at the cutting edge at every stroke at every distance.  So, I believe that we have in us a defined position and that we should be embracing that, and for me it has been the individual medley, and I tell that to my team.  That is my first major point, that you have to convince first yourself, then your team.


I see the IM as a fifth stroke, and that has been used quite a bit.  Alright, people said they see underwater kicking as a fifth stroke, but I really do see IM as a stroke in itself.   It’s not, “Oh, I’ll teach a breaststroker and then you’ll just be an IM’er.”  The IM’s actually, if you take a look, have probably improved in this country at a greater pace in last ten years then any other event.  In 1996, a 4:56 for a girl would get you a top 8 swim at Olympic trials, and by 2000 you had to be under 4:48 to make top 8.  So, the IM is a continually evolving event, and if you want to be part of it, I believe it gives your program the best well-rounded possible situation.


Now why do we train IM? One reason is because I like to be interesting in the practice and it just makes for better variety.  I also believe from things that I’ve seen and studies that I’ve read, that training IM taxes the body greater then training individual strokes, especially just freestyle.  That we are repeating 400 IM’s compared to repeating 400 freestyle the body is working at a higher level, because of the constant changing strips.   To simplify success to me in IM, is that every swimmer on my team, whatever their highest level of training, excuse me, highest level of competition is, they reach the highest level in IM.  So, if they’ve made JO’s, I want them at JO’s in the IM also, whether they are a freestyler or breaststroker, or whatever the other event is, and we are very successful at that.  The vast majority of our swimmers, if they make juniors, they make it in the IM as well as the backstroke.  We train for the IM every single day in one form or another.


There were handouts, there are still some and I’m going to go through this a little bit.  I’m going to give a little bit of my training philosophy in the IM because I think the way you approach it each day is real important.  So, I’m going to start with the basics.  Before you can train for IM your kids have to be able to swim all the strokes.  They have to be able to kick all the strokes and I work to have them kick the strokes every week, at least once a week they kick in every single stroke.  Once they’ve learned to swim the strokes then you have to teach them to train them.  And we all deal with different problems that are going to hold it back. I swim 5 to 9 swimmers in a lane, so training butterfly is not easy, because I hate watching them train what we call “butterstruggle.” My friend Terry calls it that- where you see the one arm stuff and the arms coming inside, and freestyle instead of butterfly.  If we swim fly, I don’t want them to break stroke at any point in the lap and we have to work to teach that, and this is the progression from start to finish.   So, we start off by teaching them strokes, we start off by teaching them to kick in the strokes, and we then start to teach them how to train in the strokes.  This took me almost 2 years when I first came to Santa Barbara.  My predecessor did a great job with the team, but he had more of a distance freestyle philosophy and I came in on a women’s side.  I think we had two girls under 2:20 for the 200-yard IM.   So, it took a long time for these swimmers to learn these steps.   It’s not going to happen in a week and it’s not even going to happen in a season.  Some people will pick it up right away, but it takes quite a while.  You have to be willing to invest the time.


While we are going through this process, I feel the swimmers are getting the ability to be diversified in what they swim, and they are getting the ability to swim their other strokes.  I have somebody who has an affinity for backstroke and they are getting to train that, I also believe that the 200-yard IM is probably the greatest sprint event there is, because it is a sprint.  There is no way not to sprint the 200 IM from start to finish.   You can, you know, back half your 200 freestyle, you can pace your 200 breaststroke, but you have to sprint that 200 IM and there is no way to get around that.


In setting up my training, if you look, I think it is probably on the first or the second page, and I gave you a simplified version.  I tried years ago when I listened, a long time ago to “” explain, and I know that he has even gotten away from it, is macro micro cycles, and you know really getting into the menusha of the training day to day.  You know, to the point that on September 10th, he knows that on May 20th at 5:10 in the afternoon they are going to be doing a certain set.  I can’t plan that way, but what I’ve developed is a planning system where I plan by the axes what we are training.   And then I get into it more as I am planning the kicking sets and planning the intensity as we keep going along into the season.   And I get a little bit greater in planning my months and that is how I work it by. I’ll do a whole month at a time, and at the end of the month I plan the next month in front of me and I also get ready to make adjustments.  I don’t want to make it sound like it’s too loose.  The reason I do this is so I don’t get to Saturday and realize I didn’t do any breaststroke that week. Because generally I will; I’ll get to that point and I’ll have forgotten, or I won’t have it in my mind as I’m coming in, because I’ll have seen somebody do something good on backstroke the day before and I’ll be thinking of doing another backstroke set.  So, I plan it out as I have it written up here, where I take my practices and how many we are going to do and I break it down and I start off breaking it by which axes we are going to work on, long axes vs. short axes.


I consider IM on both the long and short axes, so when I have an IM day I’m covering both.  I usually have what I consider two main sets in a practice and then a main kicking set.  Almost every set is a main kicking set and we kick a lot. We kick hard and we kick on fast send-offs and almost every single day I’ll ask them to kick two different strokes.  We’ll do something like, we’ll start off going 12 50’s going 6 of one stroke, and 6 of the different stroke, and we are going long course so those will be on a minute.  Then on an average day, we will then maybe go 7 100’s your choice, pick one on a minute 45.  But as we are going through, I’ll also have days where I’ll say we are going to go 20 50’s kicking and we start off with 5 on 1:15, 5 on 1:10, 5 on 1:05, 5 on a minute and each one has to be a different stroke, their choice.  So, if breaststroke is their weakest kicking stroke they can start with that on a 1:15. This is all long course; the majority of our training is long course.


From designing the practice schedule of what I’m going to work with in each stroke, I then start thinking about the type of sets.  Eddie Reese had mentioned about sitting down and writing sets out and I’m very similar in that.  I don’t write my practices out as much, I used to do that very pointedly.  I’d do a whole week at the beginning of the week, usually on Sunday.  I do sets more now, and as I’ve been sitting here I’ve written about eight different sets during the days I’ve been here, usually because I’m sitting and listening and something clicked or it reminds me of an old set.  And there is one that is not on here that I’ll share with you now, and actually this comes from something that a friend of mine does, John Flannigan, that coached in Virginia years ago, and he is still coaching.  He does masters and it clicked because of something Eddie talked about with one of his sets, but we do it a little bit differently because he was talking about coming down in the distances.  Alright, where you go 500 free, 400 IM and bring it down, we do the opposite where we will take a set and we’ll start off at 1000 free or an 800 free, and we’ll go an 800 free, 100 IM, 600 free, 300 IM, 400 free, 500 IM, 200 free, 700 IM.  Alright. what we might do though, is half.  You know, I have the people that swim the IM but there are still more of just the freestylers, so I might have both groups going, but reverse it.  The IM’ers go the freestyle first and focus on the IM so their last swim is going up to a 700 IM while the freestylers start with the 700 IM coming down and then they start with the 200 free going up to the 800 free.  This way they are both working within the same framework, they get done at the same time, but the focus is just a little bit different.


One of the things just to go over, that I won’t be going through right now, is talking about how to swim each of the strokes.  I think you all know that it’s not a matter of, “I have to become a breaststroker to be an IM’er.”  You really have to swim all the strokes.  In racing, we race all the strokes, and my IM’ers are expected to swim it. If you’re a 200 IM’er, mainly I want to see you in the 100’s of each stroke as often as possible.  If you’re a 400 IM’er we work to swim the 200’s of the strokes.  And I think you’ll notice if you are taking a look at the better IM’ers these days, you’ll see that they swam both the 200 back and the 200 breast, they are just not one stroke swimmers.  So then they also swim the IM, but they swim multiple strokes at that same level.  I feel that maybe 20 years ago we swam IM after doing predominately all freestyle training and I’m not sure how you do it in your programs, but to me that would be just like trying to swim freestyle doing all just breaststroke training.  You need to train in what you want to do, and it is the same concept here; we need to be training in the individual medley.


In the early season we’ll build in gradually, and we’ll start off with just 50’s working the different strokes.  We’ll start off with just what they are doing right now while I’m here, is working the mechanics from the beginning all over again.  Working mechanics of the kick, we do kick with kickboards, but we’ll start off without them, especially with breaststroke.  Alright, I’m always concerned about injuries and I don’t want to create problems with breaststroker’s knees, so we’ll start off kicking breaststroke on our backs. Alright, hands at your side just working on bringing the legs around and then we start pulling it forward.  One of the things that we’ve done this summer that has helped our IM’ers is that we started using these new breaststroke fins for the feet, from the Bettertimes group, and by the way I’m not sponsoring anybody here, I’m just telling you what we worked with.  It’s kind of like a paddle, but it is designed in a way so the kids can kick breaststroke wearing these fins, and they’ve liked it.  We use bands around the knees to teach them to get the knees in better, and probably if I was going to pull one stroke out where it becomes a weakness, it would be breaststroke because of where it is in the IM. Even if you’re not a strong butterflyer, in a 200 IM you can get through that first 50, but by the time you get to the breaststroke, if you don’t have a solid stroke going through there and especially in long course, you can’t fake the breaststroke.


Inner sets we do are of high quality.  We do high quality with smooth swimming in between.  I’ll never do the same practice twice and I’ll only do the same set, like I’ll have one or two special sets that we’ll do two or three times, but my goal is to push them in their IM at the highest level possible, and I’m trying to remember if I wrote it in here.  I have a young lady this summer who went a 4:47 IM, and we would do a lot of 400 IM’s where we go, strait/reverse, 200 IM, fly, back, breast, free, free, breast, back, fly, and the key was that I made her swim the last 50 fly in this 400 IM in the same time that we wanted to swim the second 50 in her race, and I would time it.  We were training long course and she was getting it down into the 34 range for 50 meters fly at the end of the 400’s.  She was able to consistently get down to five minutes and she’s been 4:57 in practice swimming these forward and reverse.  It is a little different than swimming a straight IM.  I kind of feel that we get them really jumping on the strokes each time better like it’s a 200 rather than getting into the 400 IM and just pacing out the first 50 and then trying to pick up the pace in the 2nd 50.


We also swam some of the things Adrian did this summer, and over this past year we have been developing her IM because she was good in the strokes.  She was probably a breaststroker, and we had her develop her butterfly and backstroke.  She was a good IM’er but it was a little later coming along than her freestyle, and now I think that she is almost at the point where the IM is equal to or beyond that.  We swam a lot of 200 IMs where we would go 6, 7, 8 200 IM’s and then we would go easy swims in between and we would be long course and I would challenge her to see how many she could go under 2:30, for the 200 IM.  So it would be like a 200 IM in three minutes, 100 easy on two minutes, and repeat that through 6/7 times.  This is one of my favorites and interestingly, the kids liked it even though it is one of the hardest sets they did.  And I know saying it you’re not going to believe it, but we would go 16 50’s, four of each stroke and that is written in there.  I wrote down a lot of different little sets that we do for the IM, so you can take that home and maybe it will work for you, but they are 16 50’s all out.  All out.  And on the fly we used to do it lane clear.  Everything is timed and I would have other coaches on the deck with me.  We had 40 kids in the pool and everybody got timed.  If it wasn’t fast enough we did that 50 over.  We only did that once where we did 50’s over.  After about 24 50’s they got the message, and the next time we did the set, and they actually asked for it, it was one of the few sets they asked for.  When we got to the end, I knew that every kid in that pool really hurt themselves in that set, and pushed it.


And for the top swimmers, I keep challenging them to swim their IM splits in these 50’s so that I’ll be turning someone like Adrian, and I’ll be telling her that we need in the butterfly to be holding a 34 or faster, or for a backstroke we need to be hitting 36, a breaststroke 40, and then freestylers 32’s and 31’s.  Freestyle was always the one where they would be faster than what they would split in the race, but I recommend that you try it.  I think you’ll find a great response from the kids and I’m getting them to train hard in all the strokes.  Granted it’s just some 50’s, but to get every swimmer in the pool, to push every stroke, you know, is a goal and it’s a hard one to achieve.


In our senior program, we have the whole breath. You know I have a Good Will Games qualifier, and I have a first time 13 year old together, because we don’t put 13 and unders into a novice group or an age group and we only have one senior group.  We have five lanes, so to get them all to step up and swim butterfly hard, backstroke hard, breaststroke hard, and freestyle hard, and I don’t do it often, but we get as much out of that as when we’ll go the 400 IM repeats, and the 200 IM fast with a 100 easy.  When I do that, I always have swimmers that no matter what I do, I can’t get them to swim to the level I know they need to be at so that they can perform in the meets.


Transitioning strokes- in our training this is critical and we also do a lot of sets and when you take a look, you’ll see we do quite a bit of IM and stroke swimming in our week but we do a lot of transitioning.  We’ll do favorite sets and again I’m limited because I’m training long course.  I would do things differently if I was going short course and I’ll tell you the difference.  In long course, I’m doing a lot of sets where we do 100s going fly, back, back, breast, free.  I’ll do it where we do sets of threes where one time it might be go one of each, the next time it might be to go three in a row of one and then three in a row of the next and then so on. But, if I’m training short course, I’ll do a lot of 75 IM’s fly, back, breast, 125 IM’s where we go a 50 of a different stroke each time, so they’ll go 50 fly, 25 back, breast, free, 25 fly, 50 back, 25 breast, free.  Alright, and then we just sequence through.  One of the things in my sets by the way, is there is always a sequence to the set.  It’s just the way my brain works, I can’t help it and the kids know it.  Sometimes it takes them a while to get it and I do have one or two swimmers that never get it. At the end the kids are still trying to explain what the sequence is, 1, 3, 2, 4, you see odd then even.  Even in the transitioning sets I make them work it hard.  We push it and they know that if we’re going long course fly/back I want to see them going 1:15 long course and we have times and each swimmer is different, and after awhile we start getting to know where they’re at and you try to get them to go a little bit further.


Something that works easier with short course and I’ve done a lot of before, is interspersing kicking with the swimming.   So we might go 25 fly, 25 back, grab the board and do 50 breast kick, and they’re expected to kick the breaststroke at 45 or 40 and we give them a time and set it high, and then a 50 drilling freestyle, where we’ll go 6 kicks on the side working body position.  Or, more often I would have them swim a 150 IM fly, back, breast, take 5 seconds, grab the board and kick freestyle and throw those legs in.  And then I would say you know you’ve got to break 40, for the 50 kick short course.  I think when we swim the IM and the 400 IM especially, they have a tendency not to go to their legs in the first 50 and I want them to.  My goal is that we’ve done enough kicking that their legs are going to hold up through the swim, but I want them to go to those legs.  It drives me crazy when I watch them swim and they’ll split 34/31 like we didn’t step up that first 50.  So these are just methods that I’m using as kind of a race strategy in practice and then we look at how to swim the IM.


The 200 IM, like I said is a sprint.  One thing though that I learned, because I had a swimmer that was a very good freestyler and he would go out in 25.7 in his first 50 fly and he was like a 1:55 and he was a 16 year old boy.  But he would limp home in 29.2 or 29.4 in his freestyle and I just didn’t get it.  He wasn’t a drop-dead sprinter, he could swim all the strokes and he was a very good IM’er.  I couldn’t understand what was going wrong and I just stopped timing his races and I just kept watching him.  And I noticed that his first 25 fly he breathed once.  He just got up there and just sprinted it out, and I realized that as much as I wanted it to be a sprint, he was taking it to an extreme, he was over swimming the first 25.  So I pulled him back a little bit and I told him that I wanted him to go his three kicks, his two strokes and then get to an every other breathing pattern.  He went out, and the first time he did that he went out in like 26 low and he broke the 29th barrier finally coming home.  And the way he saw it was, “But, I’m not getting out fast enough.”  And I just convinced him to try it one or two more times and eventually he broke 26 going out but he went 26 coming home, and he went like a 1:52 that time. So, even though I want them to go out very fast and I want them to accelerate into their turns I do need to make certain that they are breathing properly and swimming the race.  He was going to be able to swim the last 50 of the 200.


In the 400 IM it is very different, in my philosophy.  I talk to the swimmers and I want them to even negative split each of their 100’s.  I tell them the flys are by feel, and I want them to go out accelerating the stroke down the first 50 and then we accelerate into the wall.  I want them to sprint into their first turn because they usually nail that turn by just staying relaxed and going down that first lap, unless they are swimming that is the 100 butterfly and they’ll be right with them coming off of the wall.  And then I tell them by feel I want them to negative split the fly and bring it home.  And my goal is I want them to be within 3 seconds of the first and second 50, and the backstroke and breaststroke I want them to negative split.


Now, that has changed quite a bit, since we changed the turn in backstroke and I also have a change that effects us somewhat because I do have quite a few IM’ers who flip back to breaststroke and we teach it to them and then allow them to use what we want.  The only thing is that when we do that, I first take a look at what their pullout is in breaststroke and I tell them if they are going to flip that is fine but their pullout still has to get to that same point.  I don’t want them to flip back to breast so they just take a quick pull down, kick out and be up two strokes before the flacks.  But because of the difference of the way they might be touching the wall, our difference in the first and second 50 in backstroke gets to be quite a bit, but we still talk about negative splitting in both of those swims.


I try to work with the breaststrokers, because we do get quite a few IM’ers who are pretty good breaststrokers and the harder thing is to get them not to try to catch up or open up in the first 25.  So, very often I will talk to them about counting their strokes going down the first lap and make certain that their finish is in their feet and driving their hands forward.  And then I get them to accelerate the second 50 and then I want them to come off the wall and I tell them to go to their legs and drive their first 50 and try to put the race away before they hit the first wall and keep driving coming home.  On the freestyle, I don’t want it to be more than a second before the first and second 50, and the back and the breast because of the touch, especially in breaststroke. My goal is 2/10’s or 3/10’s either way, but I want them that close.  I don’t want you going 40 the first 50 breaststroke, and 42.2 the second 50, that means that we were dying coming into the end and you first have to come into your freestyle. Now, I want you feeling strength and power and I want you feeling acceleration coming down into the 100 breaststroke turning into your freestyle leg.


When we warm-up, especially for the 400 IM’ers, we warm-up by drilling the stroke and kicking all of the strokes and then when we swim I’ll do more even though I’ll pace them.  I’ll time their strokes and I do a lot of that especially in backstroke and breaststroke.  I’ll want to see their race tempo coming through in their warm-up.  I believe in a solid warm-up and I believe in pacing, but I also know that there are times when the pacing in warm-up doesn’t relate to what we are going to do in the race itself.  Alright, you will either pace faster, look great, and then you get to the race and you don’t put it together, and I’ve seen it the other way and I’ve seen athletes do it both and you know, some people are always like that.  They are always slower in the warm-up pace and they are always ready for the race.


But I’ve had athletes that vacillate back and forth but I feel that if I can keep the stroke being consistent coming in, that we are ready and we’ll get in and have a good IM swim.  If we are not looking good at that point, I’ll send them back to wherever they are warming up.  And I’m talking about when I’m out at nationals or we have what we call the Q meet in California, where a lot of my athletes will be warming up on their own.  I’ll tell them maybe on the breaststroke- I want you to do some stroke counting and get the stroke to lengthen more to get the stroke to get stronger; feel the acceleration.  It might be backstroke and I’ll send them in to do some tempo drilling to get the tempo picking up because they are just too slow on it.  But, I’ll send them over to do something specific to those strokes and they come back and we’ll do just maybe one or two more 50’s focusing just on the strokes that I felt that we weren’t ready for.


I guess if I can impart anything from this talk the biggest thing that I would like to press forward is the fact that I think the IM is an attitude just like being a 200 butterflyer.  I think it is a program attitude and I think it is the swimmer’s attitude. And I sell it, because I still have all those swimmers that say, “Why do I do IM? I’m a butterflyer.  Why am I going the IM? I’m a sprinter.”  But when we swim the IM, I tell them, “Well, if you’re swimming 200 IM’s, you’re swimming butterfly.”  I see the 200 IM as being one of the greatest sprint events, so if you are a 50/100 freestyler, then the 200 IM is going to be there.  And if you take a look at nationals, there are certain things you’re going to see.  I think it was Eddie who said all your male 400 IM’ers who broke 4:20 other than maybe one or two started off as milers and distance swimmers.  First, you will see in the 200 IM’s some of your very best, Gabriel Rose won the 200 IM at nationals this summer, and she also won the 100 freestyle.   She was a sprinter 200 IMer, but I really believe that if you bring this into your program, if it is not there already, that the reward for the kids will be a lot greater.


I think that there are a lot of potential great backstrokers out there that don’t know it because they think that they are a freestyler and they are not getting on their backs.  And they are going to work the IM and they are going to train, and I was talking mainly IM sets but everybody will train a breaststroke set.  Everybody will train a backstroke set, too.  Especially, in our season we are going to be going now, from September through to January, then to March and especially through that portion of September through December everybody does it.  If you can’t kick breaststroke because of bad knees, well pull breaststroke- I will even throw fins on you.  But we all do the same stuff together and then in the period from December until our Q meet in January and then beyond, it will be more for what I consider my hardcore IM’ers.  These are the ones who go to the meets like a Q meet or nationals and swim IM and they will focus on those strokes.
The other thing that I would say we do, is a little bit of short course training.  Some mornings we get short course and once we get into short course training, that is when I’ll take the short access strokes and do more of it and that is where we are going more butterfly and breaststroke.  This is just a personal philosophy; I don’t do very many butterfly type repeats.  As I said earlier, I don’t want to see something other than butterfly being swum and I know that there are people that do 3,000 butterflies and 10,000 IM’s and they are quite successful with it.  I’m not saying it is the wrong thing to do; it’s just something I don’t do.  And I think there are things that it would help but I also get concerned that I feel it might hurt, like physically hurt the athlete.  But, in our training, (this is the last thing that I will say and then I’ll open it up for questions).  In our training, the kids have taken on the role that the IM is the most important event to them.  We do it as a group and when we train IM probably each week, our best training is in the IM sets and that is how I design it.  So, we get the most out of it that way and like I said from the start it is a team philosophy.  So, I would like to open it up now to any questions from the group.


(Question) We don’t have enough deep water to do a lot of vertigo kicking.  Alright, again like I said I have 5 lanes long course with 40 some odd swimmers, so we kick with a kick board.  That is about the only way we kick when we kick seriously.


(Question) The only stroke, you know because we are in a crowded lane situation, and the only stroke that we have a major problem with is butterfly.  That is why I go a lot of 100’s going fly/back, because they are coming down backstroke and I just tell them hug that lane and that way my serious swimmers don’t break stroke (and my other swimmers I can give them the open lane and they still find a reason to break stroke).  Other than that when they come down backstroke if we are going back/breast we don’t have as much of a problem, so that is why I don’t go a straight 400 IM very often because I don’t want them coming down a second 50 of fly and then doing a single on fly instead.  That is why I do forward and reverse sets and then time them on that last 50 fly and really put the pressure on them at that point.


(Question) The only difference is in tapering the IM’ers.  I try to make certain that we include something on the strokes every single day without a lot of pressure on it.  We do a lot of drilling and easy kicking.  I’ll tell them let’s go, instead of 20, 8 50’s kick, 2 of each stroke.  But we will do some pacing in the strokes for 400 IM’ers or some build 25’s in the stroke for 200 IM’ers.  I also explained yesterday about when we are in our taper we do a set every single time where we do 25 drills, 25 tempo, 25 distance per stroke, we call it synchronization or race stroke. And we will do that 16 times, and we will do something like on the 30 seconds for a 25 and then we will take an extra minute between sets of four and we will do 16 of them and I’ll just have the IM’ers do one of each.  The other thing is we would probably still be doing some of those 100’s if we are long course and then be going fly/back, but we are not trying to put the same pressure on the strokes.


(Question) The question was, “Have I ever separated the lanes?”  I’ll take both lanes into one and I’ll go ten flys going on a minute and they go down one lane scoot under and come back in the next lane.  And yes, we have done that and actually it has worked very well.


(Question) “How do you help swimmers that are good in all four strokes but can’t put the IM together?”  The chances are they need to train more just straight IM or whatever their weakness is.  But I’ve always been amazed, and I don’t know if you can train this into them, but I remember having one of those swimmers whose fly, back and free were really good, but was very weak when swimming the breaststroke.  Then I had another swimmer, same gender and same age, who was a breaststroker.  We swam the IM and the non-breaststroker would out split the breaststroker in the breaststroke leg of the IM.  That is why I believe in swimming the transitions of the stroke as often as you can, and we do something in that even if it’s drilling.  We will go 100’s fly down, and backstroke back.  We probably do transitional type of strokes far more often then we do straight stroke swimming, like just backstroke or just breaststroke.  We might do that once a week while we do IMs, or transitional swimming three or four times a week.  So, we are probably doing that as much as the straight stroke swimming.


(Question) We emphasize turns quite a bit, but we also do that, and I know I keep harping on this, and I know a lot of people out there are probably going, “Oh, you get to do a lot of long course training what are you complaining about?” But I do one-third the turns that a short course training program does and that hurts us.  It definitely does, and I always have parents griping to me that we need more turn work, and teaching it isn’t going to help.  We have already done that.  We have to train it and it is hard when we are going 100’s and you have one turn and I’m at this end and they are just going lazy into that turn. It is easy when Joseph Nage, as he talked about turns to Barryman, who is going one on one and going, “Well, on the third turn on that last one, you didn’t do it well so we are going to do it over.” But when I have forty swimmers in the pool, even with two coaches on the pool deck, we can’t really see that.  So, we do emphasize it, we do talk about it, and whenever we do turn work, most of it is fly to back, or back to breast type work.


We also have an L section that is about 18 yards, and for my sprinters, eventually if we were going 200 IMs we would do a lot of work sprinting in and out of the turn transition. Then, we’ll talk about three dolphin kicks every time in backstroke or getting two lines down underwater on your breaststroke pull out.  And so we talk about it, we emphasize it, and we emphasize finishes.  And my better swimmers, because they listen to what we emphasize and work on it are better.  And the ones that aren’t better, generally it is because after I’ve said it, they’ve never listened.  It’s like what Mike Barnum was saying yesterday, that they are the ones looking up pulling on the guy behind them and seeing if they can catch them and they don’t get it.  In a race I’ll emphasize the walls very much to the weak breaststroker and you know I’ll tell them, “You have a much better shot at the 200 IM short course than long course because you have two walls and everybody can use those walls.”


Beyond that, I emphasize more of getting into, and accelerating into the turn than I would say I would emphasize in coming off of the wall.  I guess that I’m just hoping that I’ve done the training right through the season.  The bigger thing that I emphasize, which is a pet peeve of mine is looping while you swim.  You know, where you push off kind of on an angle because you’ve done that every single time in practice.


(Question) The question was about hypoxic training for IM.  You know, I used to do a lot of hypoxic training and somewhere between Las Vegas and Auburn, my two jobs there, I kind of lost that and I don’t really do much.  We just focus on breathing every free in freestyle all the time, and breathing every other in butterfly.  You know for I’ll get out the paddles and fins and I’ll say let’s go an 800, or we will go 3 800’s where we go one drill down, swim back, one wearing fins and then one swim.  I’ll also use fins for breaststroke sculling, and I call the breaststroke a scull but we don’t do this often. But, in early season I might go 200 IM’s with fins, kick fly and it might be kick fly on your back, and then I’ll have them go double on backstroke with a dolphin kick, and then scull breaststroke.  And that was the whole reason for doing this, was to get them to scull breaststroke, and then I’ll have them do an eyes up, catch up freestyle, overemphasizing the legs coming home.


The question was do we use fins to kick fly or to kick free, and it’s both.  It is according to which drill I’m trying to work on.  If I’m trying just to get them to work on the pulsing or angulation of it, then we’ll kick fly, if I’m trying to get them to work on the fact that I have a whole bunch of breaststrokers because they think that their head is supposed to lead the stroke so they dive the stroke down, then I’ll get them to do freestyle kick so they can keep the shoulders and head up.  This is so they are working to drive the hands forward first, and we do both with and without fins.  Thank you very much I hope you had a great clinic.





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