Special Sets: A Look Back At the Training of Annie Chandler Under Greg Rhodenbaugh

Annie Chandler

From the June issue of Swimming World Magazine, Michael Stott looks back at some of the favorite sets by Annie Grevers (nee Chandler) while she was a standout at the University of Arizona.

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Annie Chandler, wife of Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers and mom of two girls, Skylar (5) and Grace (2), was quite the swimmer when she was in high school, college and as a USA Swimming National Team member. Here are some of her memorable sets from assistant coach Greg Rhodenbaugh while she was swimming for the University of Arizona.

Be patient when trolling the internet for Annie Chandler’s swimming accomplishments. That’s because countless clips of Matt Grevers’ podium proposal of marriage at the Missouri Grand Prix precedes all else. When you do find her achievements, you will discover this:

She was a team captain and three-time Texas high school breaststroke champion for Churchill High School in San Antonio. As a University of Arizona Wildcat, she was again a team captain, seven-time NCAA champion, 18-time CSCAA All-American, Pac-10 Woman of the Year and finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year award (2011). On the larger stage, she was a USA Swimming national team member, two-time Pan American gold medalist and a two-time World University Games podium finisher.

A talented basketball and volleyball player when young, Chandler committed to club swimming at age 12. Athletic genes (pro football players in the family), a 6-1 frame and natural speed provided an athletic foundation for the Tucson-bound freshman. As a high school junior in 2005, Chandler set the Texas high school state record in the 100 breast with a 1:00.72—a record that wasn’t broken until 2018—then turned in the nation’s fastest prep time as a senior (1:00.94).

When Chandler arrived at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center in the fall of 2006, she joined forces with assistant coach Greg Rhodenbaugh (himself a breaststroker and five-time CSCAA All-American) who introduced her to advanced breaststroke training. As a result, she finished second, third and fourth at NCAAs in the 100 breast before winning the top prize as a senior in an NCAA meet record 58.06. That performance—swum the year after tech suits were declared illegal—was the only time to break an individual record at that year’s NCAAs.

In the 200 breast, she garnered 14th, eighth, seventh and third. She also became a breaststroke fixture on the Wildcat medley relays as the women claimed six firsts and one second in the 200 and 400 events from 2007-10.

MEMORABLE SETS

“My all-time favorite Wednesday afternoon set,” says Chandler, was simple:
• 20 x 50 easy/fast on 1:00 with credit

“We’d also do 10 x 100 EZ/fast. I didn’t like that as much, but it felt the most productive for the same reasons—you could focus on one thing and really etch it into your stroke. These sets empowered me because my best times always came during the final two efforts. I could see tangible improvements. I also remember having some epic duels with freshman Ellyn Baumgartner (ultimately an eight-time CSCAA A-A) my senior year. She was a really talented breaststroker.

“The other secret weapons in Rhody’s training arsenal were his breaststroke pull sets every M-W-F morning. We’d get rocked by a really tough IM set and always knew there was a breaststroke pull set coming to bookend the workout.

“It was 8 to 16 x 75—depending on time left in practice—on descending intervals by sets of four. We’d do 4 x 75 buoy and paddles on 1:10, then 4 on 1:05, then 4 on 1:00—which was basically a 300 pull for me. This pull work was great to simulate the lactate buildup you had in your forearms at the end of any breaststroke race,” says Chandler.

RHODENBAUGH RECOLLECTIONS

“Annie was an incredible person to coach—” says Rhodenbaugh, “always in it for the team before herself. Some sets or variations of staples we did were:

• 8 x 25@ :30 shaved 200 pace
• Extra :30
• 1 x 200 @ 3:00 fast
• 4 rounds all breaststroke

• 300 @ 4:30, 4 strokes per length
• 3 x 100 @ 1:30 descend 1-3
• 3 rounds with sets 2 & 3 with 5 & 6 stroke-per-length all breaststroke

• 3 x 100 @ starting at 1:20
• EZ 50
• 6 rounds, take 2 or 3 seconds off each round, trying to get down to 1:10 last round
• All breaststroke

• 100 drill @ 1:40
• 175 @ 3:00 fast starting at goal 200 time and descend 1-4 by rounds x 2
• 8 rounds all breaststroke

“Annie also did a lot of IM training three mornings a week for most of her years.”

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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