WoW #9 – Chattahoochee Gold "Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else."

Thank you Mike Wardwell from Gold Swim for contributing to our Workout of the Week blog (click on image to view full size).

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Coach Overview

This workout is for my senior group (15-17 year olds) mostly A-AAA swimmers. We use Mondays afternoons to get a good amount of threshold swimming

We were in a fairly heavy lactate portion of the season. Our state meet was in the beginning of December so Monday afternoons were the majority of the threshold swimming we do with Tues, Thurs, Sat being lactate days. We were about two weeks away from taper at the time of this workout.

Clive Commentary

Coach Wardwell starts the write-up with a thought-provoking quote: a terrific habit to form for every coach but it can be quite stressful to continually find new and inspiring wisdom. If you can build up your database of great quotes then you have a powerful inspirational tool in your hands. The swimmers may only comment when you stop using them but, rest assured, they read them every day.


The warm-up covers all four strokes, it stresses effective technique (DPS), it raises the awareness of the swimmers by asking for the use of controlled propulsive forces while increasing pace (build), and it activates arousal levels by including ‘turn re-starts’ and ‘fast 25s’.


Coach Wardwell illustrates 2 variations for 3 groups (#5 and #4 & #3) for the next set with snorkels and paddles. They do the same swims (6 x 300 on descending intervals) but the lanes differ on the intervals. Lane 5’s set design takes 23:10 to complete while lane 4 takes 25:00. The ‘waiting time’ at the end can be used to talk specifically to lane 5, of course, but then you’re left with the possible problem of lane 5 waiting while you give feedback to lane 4.

Another solution would be to send both groups on the same intervals but lane 4 & 3 do 275 yard swims while lane 5 does 300s. That way they both finish at the same time. Organizationally it may be easier. Your choice. It also gives lane 4 & 3 an incentive every swim to keep pace with the lane 5 swimmers for as long as possible.


The ‘main set’ (every set is a main set!) is two rounds of 4, 3, and 2 x 100 followed by a 200 kick. The 100s are on a descending interval and the swimmers are challenged with descending the swim time. More than one layer of complexity then. Excellent. Add a prescribed pattern of stroke count and you’d have an amazingly developmental set. Layered complexity forces development.

The target times are centered around threshold pace. It’s almost like Goldilocks and her bowls of porridge; one a little too cold, one a little too hot, one just right. The 4 x 100 are slightly below threshold pace, the 3 x are right on it, and the 2x are slightly above threshold pace.

This is an important concept because holding a single pace is often not that stressful for the muscles and, at threshold intensities, doesn’t stimulate change as much as variations in pace do. It’s not the same as a ‘rainbow’ set where all the popular colors of the intensity spectrum are covered but this approach first stimulates, next stresses and then overloads one particular intensity. Then the 200 kick and rinse and repeat. Nice.

Coach Wardwell estimates that the lane 5 swimmers would be enjoying 10-15 seconds of rest between each 100 while the lane 4 swimmers would be in Paradise with about 20 seconds. Everyone was prescribed freestyle so you’d be looking at stroke rates of 31 to 35 throughout the set. Challenge them to hold stroke count as well and you’re on the way to a swift climb up the ladder of success.


The workout finishes with 12 x 75 kick with fins on 1:30 – last 25 of each underwater. Neat and uncomplicated. It’s a nice way to finish and I’d be inclined to also have it as part of the warm-up before the snorkel and paddle set. Not instead of at the end but as well as.


There you have it for Commit’s Workout of the Week (WoW)! If you’d like to receive future workouts via email, you can add your name to the mailing list for free at

If you’re a coach that would like to contribute to this series, please email with your request. Thanks!

Commit & Clive

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