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by Cokie Lepinski

January 18, 2011

Long axis focus

Warm Up

Be sure and do a thorough warm up of 400-700 yards.

Following sets use Mode 1 of the Tempo Trainer (TT)

12 x 50 Free on :50 to 1:00

Start Tempo Trainer @ 1.10, reduce by .06 after every 2nd 50.

For most, the 1.10 and even the 1.04 rate may be agonizingly slow. Encourage them to relax, reach, and find rhythm with these slower tempo 50s. The .80 will be a challenging tempo for those with a slow stroke count. Have swimmers note their times on the 50s. Which setting provided them with the fastest 50? Which setting felt more efficient?

3 x 50 Backstroke Swim

TT rate varies by swimmer.

Swimmers will need to experiment to find the right TT setting for their backstroke. Some can keep the same setting they do for freestyle, but others may be at a slightly slower (higher) setting on the Tempo Trainer. So allow them to experiment with different TT rates in this set. Let them know they’ll be doing a ladder of backstroke in the next set and to take note of which setting they feel they can hold for a 50.

200 + 100 + 50 + 2 x 25 Backstroke

Start the TT at .10 higher than what they chose as their best for a 50 in the previous set. Reduce it by .06 for the 100, reduce another .06 for the 50s, and another .06 for the final 25s.

In this set they start at a slower tempo and pick up the tempo as they work down the ladder. The 2 x 25 backstrokes should result in a sprint rate. If not, have them dial down further!

3 x 200 Free Swim on interval allowing :20 to :30 rest

Set TT @ swimmer’s individual desire

The goal with this set is to keep the Tempo Trainer at the same setting on all three 200s but for the swimmers to reduce their 200 time on each subsequent swim. To do this, the swimmers must find efficiency in their stroke, their kick, or their walls.

Follow with 100 easy anything

10 x 15 Vertical Flutter Kick at :15 (= approx. 150 yards)

Set Tempo Trainer at .20

Swimmers kick vertical flutter kick to this tempo 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off.

6 x 50 “3 & Glide” Drill

TT setting varies by swimmer

Each swimmer sets the TT for a comfortable setting on freestyle. They hold the “glide” of the 3 & Glide drill (described below) through 3 chirps of the TT before rotating to the other side for 3 more strokes.

3 & Glide Drill (works for backstroke or freestyle)

Description/Key points: The emphasis here is on holding a tight core to attain good position, line and balance in the water.

Swim three strokes of free. At the third stroke, leave the arm out in front of you and glide with a kick. (Without a Tempo Trainer, count to 10.) If you do this right, you’ll be gliding on opposite sides after every three strokes. When you are in the glide position, you should be at about a 45-degree angle in the water, so you are riding your hip. Be careful not to over rotate to 90 degrees. Also, on freestyle, when in the glide position, keep your eyes looking down at the bottom of the pool. For backstroke, eyes straight up.

Following set uses Mode 2 of the Tempo Trainer (TT)

500 Free Swim

Mode 2 TT setting varies by swimmer

Each swimmer should have a goal time in mind for a 500 free swim. You can use their times on the previous 200s swim to determine this if they don’t know their usual 500 practice time. Calculate the time and then divide the time by 20 laps (if SCY, or 10 laps if LCM) to figure the per-lap time and set the TT to this rate. The swimmers goal is to stay even with or ahead of the Tempo Trainer chirp on every lap. If you are doing this SCY, an option is to set the TT to activate for the 50 times, making it just a little more challenging to find and stick with the pace.

Warm Down

Warm down with at least 200 yards.


  • Technique and Training
  • Coaches Only


  • Freestyle
  • Backstroke
  • Workouts
  • Training Aids
  • Warm Ups
  • Drills