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Power Training For 100s

Written By: Alexis Keto


When starting with power workouts, it’s important to start simple, so that they’re comfortable with quick equipment changes. Plus, coaches must get comfortable with the controlled chaos of a workout like this and communicate the purpose clearly to the athletes. A simple set is just that – 5 x [5 cycles @ 20R, 50 fast off the block] – and repeat.


Designed for a range of athletes from Sectional to National qualifiers, these two workouts are only possible after these athletes had a month of regular power work on both towers (every Friday AM) and cords (Tuesday AM). They also had a Monday workout at a 20yd pool that was also high intensity, so these athletes were accustomed to detailed, high focus workouts.


I use these two as examples of what power workouts can look like after repeated practice and how they can translate into something productive long term. We also have a custom (PG) team playlist literally blaring through the pool area, so the vibes are really hype for the duration of workout.


Power Towers – facility is an 8-lane pool, athletes all start in lane 1 and the set runs continuous. Blocks are on the deep end of the pool. Power towers in lanes 3-6 – fill is indicated below. Can also be done using short cords of varying intensity.


All athletes start in Lane 1 two minutes apart and wind through all 8 lanes. Staffed with two coaches – one in lanes 1-5 controlling entry into the circuit, one in 6-8 with a watch. This allows for a lot of individual attention with each athlete, both coaches focus on technical feedback throughout the set, especially underwater/breakouts and overall tempo.

The athletes participating in this set are mostly mid-distance to long distance specialists, so the goal was to help them understand how to maintain the strength they have during longer races while teaching them to increase the tempo. Each lane focuses smaller components of a 100 race and uses different ways to help athletes generate a faster tempo.

Should be the same stroke for the entire round – recommended – 2 rounds free, then 2 rounds non-free - each round takes about 12-15 minutes. We did a short technique warmup, so as to sufficiently be warm prior to initiating a power sequence.



At the end of the workout, athletes picked one stroke to do 2 x 100 @ 6:00 First one was straight within 3 of best, second was broken :10 – 25-50-25 faster than best.


Short Cords -- Power Towers are a luxury…a more financially feasible option is short cords resist work. We employed this strategy heavily in Covid, but also when we didn’t have access to a long course pool or our power tower facility to prepare for National level meets.


Short cords are great opportunities to really give a lot of stroke feedback to athletes as it will highlight deficiencies very quickly and when athletes rotate off cords – it’s easy to give them feedback and keep them focused. A good use of an assistant is timing either 25s or 50s as well as helping make sure each athlete gets feedback.



Heavy to light – cords are colored – Yellow-Green-Red-Blue-Black However, a long cord can be wrapped around a block to make it shorter according to this ratio of smooth swimming. It’s totally scientific, clearly. The idea is to have varying levels of intensity for different purposes. Yellow = 12 ½ off the wall Green = 10 yards (usually 3-4 cycles) Red = Feet past the flags

Blue = Flags

Black= 3-4 yards.


The pool for this workout is 6 lanes, with blocks at the deep end where the cords are attached. Usually 3-4 athletes per lane, with 2 cords, alternating athletes in a round as well as between rounds.

For this set, we had a green cord and a red cord in each lane, with one lane having a green cord & black cord. For example: Round 1: Athletes A & B will alternate reps, Round 2: Athletes C & D will alternate reps. Rounds off are for recovery & helping with timing or stroke count (if needed in the set).


Warmup is combination of drill work and heart rate – never go into cord work cold if high quality results are desired. Because of the nature of the set – athletes should focus on one stroke throughout. Good set to repeat later in the week as well for another stroke. Also good as a morning workout prior to an evening quality focused workout (like MVO2 or Lactate).


Warmup kick cord set with fins 2 x thru – one on each cord intensity 10 x 10 Underwater Fly Kicks @ :10Rest – fast and focusing on kicking with both sides of the fin 4 x 25 UWK with fins @ :30 Rest – descend if possible


For the 8-10 cycles – we discuss limiting breathing to no more than 1-2 breaths but working to zero on Fr & Fly. Breaststrokers do not perform pull outs for this particular set, but rather use fly kicks to surface to maximize timing and assist with using the fly kick to initiate momentum off the wall. Backstrokers are encouraged to kick fly INTO the breakout stroke sequence.


Main Cord Set

Fly/Brst 4 x thru

Person A: 4 x 10 cycles light cords 1 x 50 FAST (think 100p +02) Person B: 4 x 8 cycles heavy cords 1 x 25 FAST off the block (departs first, wait for A to finish 50 to swim back)


Round 1 & 3: w/fins for fly – use the kick to propel arm tempo w/padd for brst – focus on early catch without lifting the head and keeping the core engaged. Person A & B alternate their rep, and switch cords within the round after the swims.


Back/Free 4 x thru

Person A: 4 x 10 cycles light cords 1 x 50 FAST (think 100p +02) Person B: 4 x 8 cycles heavy cords 1 x 25 FAST off the block (departs first, wait for A to finish 50 to swim back)


Person A & B alternate their rep, and switch cords within the round after the swims.


Round 1: Paddles Round 2: Fins Round 3: No gear Round 4: No gear again or with Paddles & Fins.


In closing – Coaching power workouts are fun for athletes and coaches alike. It can be tiring but super fun to put some priority into detail work while swimming fast. It helps to follow up in future workouts with that same feedback and an element that relates to the shorter attention span of athletes. It makes the most out of limited space and time, so athletes learn to value each workout and learn to race on a regular basis.


Coach Alexis Keto believes in the well-rounded, socially-aware athlete and infuses this philosophy into each workout, competition & team endeavor. Each swimmer has the potential to be successful, and she feels that coaches should help swimmers discover their pathways to success and to their goals on a personal and individualized level. Over her 20-plus years of coaching, Alexis has had the good fortune of coaching at every level of the sport - summer league, high school, club and college. In her twelve years at Colorado, the team grew from 4 state qualifiers to 75 state qualifiers, 40+ Sectional qualifiers, Multiple State Record Holders, Junior National (USA/NCSA/ISCA) Qualifiers and National/Olympic Trial athletes. This tradition of excellence continued most recently with New Trier Aquatics with World Championship Trials and Senior National finalists. Perhaps her greatest pride, however, is her ability to use her college coaching/recruiting experience at NC State & Northwestern to help athletes find the perfect college - whether at Division 1 schools or NAIA schools. Over 50 athletes have continued their swimming career at the collegiate level with an impressive number becoming team captains during their college tenure. Every swimmer has something to give to the team and has something to gain from the sport and Coach Alexis is eager to develop all facets of the athlete. She is also actively involved in the development of the sport of swimming at state and national level, currently serving on national committees, formerly very active in the development of the Western Senior Zone Championships and she has held several positions in the Colorado LSC. Her involvement is not just in governance, as she has coached and developed several local, zone and national camps & teams - as part of the task force for the inaugural 2018 Leadership Summit and as head coach of the 2018 Eastern Zone Select Camp. She currently is on the USA Swimming Club Development Committee and the Awards Committee.


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