Written By: Jake Des Roches
My name is Jake Des Roches and I coach the SAND Senior Elite and National 3 training groups. I’ve been with the Sandpipers since 2015 and have had the pleasure of working with 5 different senior level training groups over this time, including starting two brand new groups on our program, the Senior Prime Group in 2019 and the National 3 group in 2022. I started coaching the Senior Elite group in the fall of 2021.
Our team group structure aligns a combination of swimming performance with grade level appropriate training groups. We typically want kids to be in a group for 2-3 years before they move up to the next level of our program. A good way to think about our team’s general development structure comes from a friend of mine, Greg Gillete of Aiken-Augusta Swim League. He told me his team has the following beliefs at different ages: First, learn to do it right. Next, learn to do it faster. Then, learn to do it more.
With the Senior Elite group, our targeted event for athlete development is the 400 IM with the goal of seeing improvements in every single individual event through the course of a season.
When kids at this age improve in the 400 IM, it means they are becoming an overall better swimmer, and they usually see improvement in every swimming event along the way.
In the Senior Elite Group, we begin to introduce primary stroke training. At this age, primary stroke training is not the focus, we just introduce it for the first time. It’s important to be flexible with athletes at this level. Athletes may see changes in their primary stroke during this time period of development or may train a “primary stroke” consistently but end up being better at a different stroke by the end of the season!
The below workout was done on November 15, 2022 LCM in the morning. The focus of this morning was back half 200 LCM primary stroke speed. I find that especially for butterfliers and breastrokers, learning how to race the 200 LCM vs SCY has a steep curve for many kids. The overall increase in length of swim + reduced turns can lead to many differences in how kids race, especially on the 2nd 100 when fatigue sets in.
The warm up today is a modified version of a warm up Dave Salo published in his Sprint Salo book. We were warming up for a prime stroke set, so we had a 400 choice warm up, 4x100 IM drill to get strokes mixed in and activate different muscle groups, then 4x50 prime descend with great technique.
The main set was 6 rounds of a 300 red pace free on long rest followed by a 100 prime stroke for time. To work on the 200 LCM vs SCY races, I prefer limited numbers of fast 100s LCM over greater numbers of 50s. In this set, I believe that a kid’s 2nd 50 of their 100 to be more similar to their actual 200 race than say a set of 20x50 @ 1:00 race pace.
Prior to the set starting, kids are given their 300 red paces from the Urbanchek color chart along with their 2nd 100 of their 200 best time. The goal is to hit the red time AND the 2nd 100 pacing each round. Following the set, I recorded averages on both the 300s and 100s. This is a set I will repeat with the group, so saving data is highly important to me to track an athlete’s progress over time.
Following this, the rest of the workout was mainly recovery focusing on freestyle technique and breath control. They did 12x50 drill working on EVF and DPS, getting stroke counts, using a snorkel to watch for EVF underwater. Then followed this by 9x100 breath control breathing every 3, 5, 7 each 100.
I think that doing breath control freestyle provides a big benefit to underwater dolphin kicking and breast pullouts because it gets kids used to holding their breath in a much lower stress and safer way than doing repeated underwater work. When breathing every 7 strokes, kids have to hold their breath for several seconds while their heart rate is elevated from swimming, just like in a race.
I’ve found that when kids get comfortable with breathing every 7 strokes, they find confidence in pushing their underwater in races for 1 or 2 more kicks than they were previously comfortable with. Doing breathing pattern freestyle work also allows for more repetitions in a given time than when doing strict underwater work which require longer send offs and limited repetitions to ensure athlete safety.
If you have any questions about this or simply want to talk about training, I’m usually pretty open. You can contact me on instagram @usaswimcoachjake or by email email@example.com (FYI: I can be bad at responding to emails).
November 15, 2022 AM
Warm Up - Salo Style
400 warm up
4x100 IM Drill
4x50 Prime D1-4
Main: 6 Rounds
1x300 Free @ 5:00 Red Pace
1x100 Prime @ 2:00 For Time, Best Average
12x50 Free Drill @ 1:00
Pull: Breathing Pattern
9x100 Free @ 1:30 Breathing 3-5-7 by 100
Cool Down: 600
Coach Jake quite literally grew up coaching. He began his journey as a Junior coach for his summer league swim team, the Fairfax Frogs at just 14 years old. While learning as a developmental coach for the Frogs, Jake’s experience grew and led him to become the Assistant Head Coach of the team of roughly 100 swimmers during his last few years in college.
During this time, Jake swam and played water polo competitively for Sea Devil Swimming, DC Water Polo, and W.T. Woodson High School. In college, Jake swam and played water polo for the Penn State Behrend Lions, where he was captain of the water polo team his junior and senior years.
Following graduation, Jake moved to Las Vegas to teach high school math as part of Teach For America. A lucky phone call about two high school swimmers looking for a club team to swim with led Jake to start coaching for the Sandpipers in 2015. Since 2015, Jake has coached five different senior level groups on the Sandpipers leading to his current role coaching the Senior Elite and National 3 training groups.
Coach Jake would like to thank all of the coaches who have helped him as an athlete and a coach in his life, as he says “I wouldn’t be the coach I am today if I did not have coaches who believed in me and taught me how to believe in myself. A special thanks to Coach Victor Abrahamanian, Nick Grzeda, Brian Dufour, Joe Tristan, and Jenn Wallace for believing in me and thank you Coach Ron Aitken for teaching me that if you have a lane you have a chance.”