5 of the Hardest Winter Training Sets: The Grind of the Holiday Season


5 of the Hardest Winter Training Sets

Winter training… aka, every swimmer’s worst nightmare. Winter training is known to be the hardest week of practice during the swim season. The part that makes it so difficult is the high intensity workouts and the increase in yardage. Listed below are five of the hardest sets I have done throughout my years of swimming ranging from high school to college.

1. 30 x 100s Off the Block

Looking back at all of the sets that I have done in the past, this is probably the most memorable one. I did this set both my freshmen and sophomore years of college, and let me tell you, it hurt just as bad the second time as it did the first. My coach has always had us do this set in long-course meters on two minutes. The worst part about this set is the constant getting out of the pool and getting right back up on the block to go again. This practice is just as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. Early on in the set, the negative thoughts definitely begin to circulate in everybody’s head, but luckily, I have an extremely supportive team, so we all keep each other pretty uplifted throughout the practice!

2. 7 x 400 IM and 500 Freestyle

This was a classic Christmas Eve set that my team did in high school. My coach usually offered two sets on Christmas eve so that everybody could pick the practice that was more geared toward their events. The set that I chose to do was seven rounds of a 400 IM and a 500 freestyle. The other option was 6 x 1650s, which was created for the distance swimmers on my team… definitely not for me. This was one of the most brutal sets that I have ever done because of how long it took and how physically taxing it was on my body. I did this set two years in a row, and the second time around, the intervals got faster as the rounds went on which made it even more difficult.

3. 100 x 100s

The 100x100s is a set that I am sure many teams around the country have done before. I did this set once in high school and it was a mentally challenging practice because of how long and repetitive it was. When I did this practice, my coach wrote it so that we did more than just freestyle during the set. He had the team start with 20 x 100s freestyle, and then 10 x 100s backstroke, 10 x 100s kick, and so on. This was still a very challenging and long set, but I am very glad that my coach wrote the practice so that there was some variety.

4. 50 x 200s

This was a set that I did in high school the following year after the 100 x 100s. My coach wrote the set as 20 x 200s freestyle, 10 x 200s kick and 20 x 200s freestyle again. The catch is that the second set of 20 x 200s freestyle were on an interval that was 10 seconds faster than the first 20 x 200s. This was a very long and boring set. It was definitely taxing on the body, but I remember it being more of a mental challenge than anything else.

5. 6-10 x 150 Prime and 200 Freestyle

This was a set that I did my freshmen year of college. The challenging part of this set was that the 150s and 200s were both on the same interval of two minutes and 30 seconds. The 150s were prime best average, while the 200s were freestyle just make. This set was hard because the objective was to continue to go fast on the 150s even though we did not get a ton of rest on the 200s. The sprint group did six rounds, while the distance group did 10 rounds.

I am sure many swimmers can relate to those brutal Winter training sets that sometimes seem impossible and never ending. As teams around the country are preparing for this difficult time, just remember that challenging sets like the ones listed above will only make you better in the long run! What are some of the hardest sets that you have done in the past? Comment down below!

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 months ago

Edie — you may not have done/chosen the 6×1650 set, but after reading the article I can state unequivocally that you are an aerobic athlete!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x