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High School Age Swimmers: 400 IM development

Written By: Jon David

First, I’ll start by saying, right now it is Missouri high school swimming girls season, which is why there are only boys at this afternoon practice.

We start the practice with WUTs and this varies from using cords, mini bands, jump ropes, etc.

For Today’s WUTs:

1 Round of cords, 20 each of Row, Full Pull, Ski, Finish This is for shoulder/scapula development and some extra movement to loosen up the arms.

2 Rounds Med-Ball, (4x bleacher Jump, 12x jumping lunges, 20 V-ups, 60 flutter kick w/chest pass). Since my other coach had the jump ropes, I wanted some type of jumping motion with abs and decided bleacher jumps and jumping lunges. Usually we do jump rope, 50 front, back, R foot, L foot as part of warm-up. They have gotten much better at jump rope, it was a struggle for some at the beginning of the year.

Pull-ups and Rings – 2 Rounds: 4 pull-ups 20 double leg mtn climber (great for open turns) 3 pull-ups 20 single leg mtn climber 2 pull-ups 10 double leg mtn climber 1 pull-up 10 single leg mtn climber

Doing this straight through takes about 90 seconds, and similar HR to racing a 200 fast stroke and the transition of pull-ups to rings, is a great body strength movement.

Then we start practice in the pool with fins on during the warm-up set.

2 Rounds: 400 free @ 5:20 – no breath breakout stroke 6x75 @ 1:15 o-DKOB, e- IM – fly/bk/brst 8x25 @30 o-underH2O, e-IMO

We use fins in warm-up to help the swimmers get in a better body position on top of the water, and usually they are more inclined to hold DK off the wall and flutter kick in freestyle. It also gets their body to a higher HR, as they are having to work a little harder with them, which then gets them to warm-up ready to go faster. My goal in a warm-up is I want their HR to be beating somewhere 135-150s range for 10-15 minutes.

A few small details to work on in warm-up, no breath on freestyle breakouts. DKOB – Eddie Reese style dolphin kick on back with hands at your side. This is a great way to improve DK rhythm and abs and hip flexor strength to the thighs. And swim strong stroke on IM.

The second round, the swimmers start to naturally pick up their speed and you can tell their HR is getting more controlled and they’re starting to feel stronger in the water.

The main set is a 3k IM set, and to be honest, we missed the very last part of 2x100 IM and 4x25 IM, as we ran out of time so it was 2,700 on this day. I’ve done this set once before in October with the high school girls, they did the second interval on the board 1:30base with 50s interval the same.

2x400 IM @ 5:40, fly = fly/free by 25 8x50, 2 of each IMO @ 55 2x300 IM @ 4:15, fly = free/fly/free 6x 50 @ 50 1- fly/bk, 2-back, 3-bk/brst, 4- brst, 5-brst/free, 6-free 2x200 IM @ 2:50 4x50@45 IMO

I believe the goal for a great 400 IM set, is make it around 3-4k in length and have a build in speed to the set. The build in speed for this set, distances getting less from 400 to 200 and 50s decreasing in number and interval.

The base part of the IM was 1:25 per 100, 2x400 @ 5:40, 2x300 @ 4:15, 2x200 @2:50; and my boy IMers who are more than capable of making 1:20 and half could probably do 1:15. But for where we are in the season with March Championship meets, I wanted the focus to be on the 50s in between. Still most were in between 4:27 – 4:50 finish on the 400s. 3:20-3:50 on 300s and they pushed the 200s 2:07-2:25.

We usually do fly/free for any 300+ IMs, so they can swim stronger on the back/breast portion of the set. But I do emphasize not breaking stroke on the fly part and the holding stroke on the 50s pace.

The emphasis on the 50s was build the speed, similar to how you swim a 400 IM and hold great walls! They were holding back a little bit on the 1st 50 stroke of the 8, but were pushing strong speed on the 2nd 50 of each stroke.

The 6x50 were more focus on IM transition work, and hold speed through the middle 200. So as you see for the 6x50s, 200 yards is back and breast.

And finally the 200 IM, were hold strong and finish fast on the 50s @45. And they attacked the last 4x50s strong.

Why focus on 400 IMs for Senior/High School age swimmers? As Michael Phelps says, “if you want to have a fast 200 IM, train for the 400 IM”. And the crossover training between 400 IM and 200s/100s of strokes really helps to develop and give endurance to maintain the back half speed.

This is only 1 practice out of a season’s focus, but the way it’s planned is for 400 IM/500 Free as the focus of practices. I had an enlightenment this year, in how to write a season plan and how to taper. I’ve always had it written as 14-16 weeks long until the focus meet. Starting from the championship meet and working backwards. We have a focus meet in December, March, and July.

But this year the enlightenment was, write down your goal sets that I’d like swimmers to perform the last 4-6 weeks before the meet, leading up to the last week. And then build training focus around achieving these certain sets, and if we can get close to performing well and consistently and complete these sets within a practice, when the time is right, then we will have a great taper leading into the meet. And finally, I learned how to taper the kick better. But that’s for another time.

Jon David took over as Head Coach for Parkway Swim Club in August 2014. He has helped grow the club from 260 to over 475 competitive team members.

Most recent team success: men’s team 1st place finish at Region VIII Spring and Summer Sectionals 2019. Men’s team 13th overall finish Winter Juniors West, December 2021.

Jon David graduated from Drury University, completing his bachelor’s in chemistry. He was a member of Drury University swim team from 2004 - 08, and finished up his senior year as an All-American, in the 100 yard butterfly and a member of the National Championship team at NCAA Division II Nationals. Before coming to Parkway, Jon David was the head coach at Jets Aquatic club for 3 years in Jonesboro, AR. Jon David helped double the club growth and move up multiple spots in Virtual Club Championships and in August 2014 he had 3 swimmers compete at Central Zones Championships, each winning an event in a different age group.

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