Special Sets: A Look At the Training of Stanford Recruit Lucy Bell

lucy bell stanford

Special Sets: A Look At the Training of Stanford Recruit Lucy Bell

This month’s “Special Sets” features Fort Collins Swim Team swimmer, Lucy Bell, coached by Mike Novell. The Fossil Ridge High School prep star, who has committed to Stanford this fall, is Colorado’s top-ranked female recruit in the Class of 2022 and eighth-ranked nationally.

Lucy Bell has been kicking fanny and taking names throughout her high school career. She’s a 13-time high school state champion (seven individual events, six relays) and 16-time NISCA All-American.

At the 2022 state meet, she took down Missy Franklin’s 2013 200 yard IM record of 1:56.85 when she posted the fastest high school time of the year (1:56.41/1:54.99 altitude-adjusted/NISCA conversion). Her NISCA results over her four-year prep career include six top-10 individual showings.

In March, Bell won five events at the Austin Speedo Sectionals (SCY). As of that meet (held a month after the Colorado 5A State High School Championships), her best short course times this year would have scored in four events at NCAAs: 400 IM (4:07.32, 8th), 200 IM (1:55.21 altitude-adjusted/NCAA conversion, 13th), 100 butterfly (51.83, 14th) and 200 fly (1:54.80, 15th). In addition, going into USA Swimming’s Summer Nationals in Irvine that were held the end of July—and seven weeks before entering Stanford—she had achieved seven long course qualifying times.

“Lucy is a unique talent and bucks the common characteristics that I’ve noticed in national-caliber swimmers,” says her Fort Collins Swim Team coach, Mike Novell. “She came to FCST at 12 after learning to swim in Monterey, Calif. at Monterey Bay Barracudas and in Hawaii at Manoa Aquatics. Her strokes have been built on a strong foundation based on a very natural connection with the water. This makes her look very smooth and relaxed even during the most intense training sessions and races. Her personality matches her strokes in that she remains relaxed even in the most stressful of circumstances. Together her attitude and stroke technique make for a beautiful tandem.

“That’s not to say Lucy isn’t a fierce competitor, but like many world-class swimmers, she has an ability to flip a switch and compete. She thrives off racing the best and embraces that challenge. While not loving the spotlight, she loves to race and rises to the occasion in the biggest moments. She is a great teammate and truly puts the needs of the team before her own. Lucy typically swims her best when she is surrounded by her swimming buddies, and she has no problems swimming a tough double or an off stroke event if that is what is best for her team.

“Lucy is an awesome person and is very fun to coach,” says Novell. “Her parents have supported her dedication to the team and allowed her to mature at her own rate, which really complemented her long-term athletic development. Greg Meehan and Tracy Slusser at Stanford are getting a great athlete and person.”


“The following sets came from training for a string of meets through February to March,” says Novell. “In this period, she swam well in all the big moments along the way and was training well in practice. Our plan kept her sharp through all the racing. We are a GAIN team, and she did strength endurance and power endurance dryland at this time.”

Threshold Free (SCY)
Coach Novell: “This was one of the more impressive free sets at altitude that I’ve seen.”
• 4 x 100 @ 1:10 Free (Holding 59s)
• 4 x 100 @ 1:30 Kick
• 4 x 100 @ 1:05 Free (Holding 58s)
• 4 x 100 @ 1:30 Kick
• 4 x 100 @ 1:00 (Holding 55s)

Typical Lactate (LC)
After a 45-minute warmup:
• 6 x 50 @ 6:00 from a dive, all out (27.9-28.2)

Underwater Work
• 20 x 25 @ :30 Streamline DK UW w/fins
• 3 x 50 @ 2:00 Off the block, UW w/fins (No breath at wall, 25-26s)
• 3 x 50 @ 3:00 Off the block, Streamline UW (27s)

Aerobic IM Set
• 20 x 100 @ 1:25 IM Cruise (1:12s)
• 10 x 100 @ 1:20 IM Faster average (1:09s)
• 5 x 100 @ 1:15 IM Fastest average (1:05s)

Active Rest
• 1 x 25 @ :40 Max sprint from a dive
• 1 x 50 @ :40 Easy
• 2 x 25 @ :30 Max sprint from a push
• 1 x 50 @ :40 Easy
• 3 x 25 @ :30 Max sprint from a push
• 200 @ 4:00 Easy

Wed Lactate Set
• 1 x 300 @ 4:00 Off the block, free (3:05 free at alt)
8 x 100 @ 1:40 Kick swim, non-free
8 x 50 @ 1:00 Drill
8 x 25 @ :40 Fast w/sox
• 1 x 200 @ 4:00 Off the block, non-free (2:07 fly)
8 x 100 @ 1:25 IM Last 25 no breath
8 x 50 @ 1:00 IMO x 2
8 x 25 @ :30 IMO x 2, FAST w/fins and paddles
• 1 x 100 @ 3:00 IM Off the block (:58 IM)

Michael J. Stott is an ASCA Level 5 coach, golf and swimming writer. His critically acclaimed coming-of-age golf novel, “Too Much Loft,” is in its second printing, and is available from store.Bookbaby.com, Amazon, B&N and book distributors worldwide.

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