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Streamlining Workout Composition

Written By: Alexis Keto

One component that isn’t talked about a great deal – perhaps ever – is how to incorporate workouts from other coaches into your plan and your style as a coach. We all love seeing the latest and greatest from the top coaches – the technique, the lingo, the new drills and sets – it’s exciting and infuses our workouts with excitement.

That being said – it’s important to consider those workouts and HOW to best incorporate the workouts from the great ones into a workout for teenagers. When I look at adapting a workout, I take the components that I need for the workout that I already have planned. This is a key point. I am not looking to completely replicate a workout – that’s tantamount to plagiarism. We cannot replicate the workout of another coach – it’s not the same and you cannot create that environment. Integrate the workout into your style. I cannot emphasize that enough.

Let’s take the latest iteration from Dave Salo:

Thank you Coach Salo for posting these workouts on Twitter – really awesome insight into a high level training setting!

First - Consider that his athletes are predominantly post college, so past full physical maturity but in peak physical condition & preparing for international competition. Taking the workout at face value and duplicating it, while it would be fun, provides little functional value for most training groups. We don’t regularly have athletes that are equivalent to that skill-set of athletes, especially in a larger club setting.

Second – Analyze the workout as a whole. Can you decipher what the goal of the workout is? What are some of the components that stand out? Where are the technical components? For me, I’m guessing that this is also in a yards course or perhaps a SCM course (which is the best course). First, look how short the “warm-up” process is at the onset of the workout. The workout appears to focus on 200SCY or 100LCM development from top to bottom with a large kick set that starts the workout – clearly warming up the legs to a very high pace. This transitions into a strong pull set to warm up the arms and prepare for an aggressive “pre-set” of 11x75 with a smooth recovery into three very aggressive 125s that really replicate that 100 LCM/200 Yd tempo & intensity.

Third – Select the components that feel they work well with your individual style. For me, I’d take the overall template which mimics mine – Kick/Pull/Pre-Set/Recovery/Focus. For a senior group focused on Futures+, I would create my own Kick set that fit in my rhythm of the week and the time I have allotted that day and I’d probably look for more of a pull/swim as a combination pre-set since I only typically have at most 90 minutes and efficiency is important. The Pre-Set would look like a combination of the pull set & the paddles set. I love the 3 x 125 so I’m going to keep that, but I’ll keep it as a focus on 200 free rather than more open to stroke interpretation so that there’s more of a controlled situation which is nice with rough coach:athlete ratios. I’m also going to translate this into my practice shorthand and will assume SCY intervals for Futures/Sectionals level 14-18 year old. I use a 6 sec HR count, 5 seconds apart and I love patterns.


3 x 100 @ 120 – 3 strokes no br off wall; light descend to HR 17 3 x 75 @ 120 – scull flags to wall each 25 with head down into fast flips; #3 no buoy

3 x 25 @ 30/35/100 Race Pace* (this accounts for rest between sets); Paddles only. *Race Pace is 200 pace for 200 Free.

We would have an active recovery space with intervals before going into the main set.

Lastly is the main set. Or what I view as the main set. We’re going to go 3 x 125 but on 4:00 so that I can take times better and athletes can have closer to a 2:1 rest:work ratio, roll in two heats for better lane usage and make it closer to a lactate set. We would discuss effort as the primary goal. How HARD can you work? What can you work on better each round? I would take times, but I’d have the athletes rate their effort each round. Both on technique/detail and on physical effort. Underwaters? And potentially, I would consider running from the set from the blocks depending on the vibe of the group. Nothing like calling an audible!

We’d spend a lot of time on recovery, if possible, afterwards – aiming for 10 minutes of active recovery on an interval. I’d probably follow this workout up with a more traditional aerobic IM workout the next day – both to work different muscle groups but also finding ways to continue recovery, preferably on a morning workout. This set, done correctly, is going to tax the athletes a lot and I’d want a good recovery for the next quality workout.

Of course, this is just one way of adapting the workout – and I’d be really interested to hear how other coaches would translate this workout? To 11-12s? College Athletes? This is the kind of discussion of what our Associate Collectives (the lowest level) in our mentor programs would be encouraged to participate in – if you’re interested in getting into a group of peers to just geek out over swimming – let me help you find those folks through our mentorship programs!

Chief Operations Officer at Streamline Teams 25th year coaching B.A. Northwestern University M.A. North Carolina State University 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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