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Eddie Reese’s favorite sets for getting swimmers in shape

by ZwemZa on July 25th, 2019

The man. The legend. The staggering number of titles. Here are some of legendary swim coach Eddie Reese’s favorite sets for getting swimmers in shape.

Eddie Reese is one of the winningest swim coaches of all time.

At the NCAA level, his accomplishments are without peer. Since taking over at the University of Texas in 1978, the Longhorns have captured fourteen national titles and eleven runner-ups. Reese has been NCAA coach of the year eight times, and the Longhorns have won 40+ conference titles.

Reese’s success has bled into the international scene, with Reese being selected to the United States’ coaching staff for the Olympics from 1988-2012. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, a full third of the US men’s team were Longhorn swimmers. 26 of his swimmers have gone to the Olympics [1], with legends like Aaron Piersol, Ian Crocker and Joseph Schooling swimming for Reese at one time or another.

Reese’s approach to coaching has always been one of humility and generosity. He focuses on coaching the person and works on helping his athletes improve, rather than succeed.

“We don’t talk about winning the NCAA championship,” says Reese. “We talk about what it takes for each individual to get better.”

The result?

Lots of improvement, and lots of championships.

Aerobic Training with Eddie Reese

The following swimming workouts were discussed at an ASCA presentation [2] that Reese gave back in 2009, the year after the Beijing Olympics, where he had been the men’s head coach for the United States.

Reese’s focus is on getting swimmers into a heart rate zone of around 155-160 BPM, and keeping them there for around 30-45 minutes.

All the sets and intervals below were done in short course yards.

Set #1

6-10 rounds…

  • 200 free @2:00
  • 175 free @2:00

Set #2

6-10 rounds…

  • 200 free @2:00
  • 150 stroke @2:00

Set #3

6-10 rounds…

  • 200 free swim @2:00
  • 150 kick @2:00

Set #4

Reese liked using this variation of the set with his sprinters.

8 rounds through…

  • 100 free @1:00
  • 75 free @1:00

Set #5

And Reese’s favorite short course set was the following…

2 rounds…

  • 5×100 @ 1:10
  • 4×200 @ 2:10
  • 3×300 @ 3:10
  • 2×400 @ 4:10
  • 1×500 @ 5:10

Take a two-minute break and repeat… but the intervals on the second round are 1:00/2:00/3:00/4:00 and 5:00.

Eddie Reese’s Tips for Getting in Shape

Want to make the most of these sets?

Here’s some more tips from Eddie Reese on maximizing your aerobic work in the pool.

Focus on personal improvement.

The thing that motivates swimmers more than anything to hit the pool is to see improvement. Reese’s advice for mitigating some of the dysfunction that comes from comparison-making is to have swimmers train for time and distance vs training for placings.

“Measure the distance they go, keep a record of it, and they can get better,” says Reese. It can be difficult not to get down on yourself when a teammate is beating you or you lose. “It is so hard in the competitive world that we live in … not to have swimmers feel bad when other people beat them. That is going to happen.”

When you show up to the pool work on hitting a faster interval, or swimming the same reps at a faster speed, or performing each lap with one or two less strokes.

As Reese notes, as long as you are improving, you are going to stay fired up to work hard and get your butt to the pool each day.

“You can be 30th in an event but if you swam 5 seconds faster than your best time, it’s like you won the event.”

Breathe every three strokes and extend your underwaters.

Swimmers—especially freestylers—have a dominant side. It’s only natural to bring the imbalance we have in regular life to the pool.

One of the ways that you can make your aerobic work harder without having to go faster is to breathe every three strokes.

Such a simple, basic concept, but breathing a little less makes it more aerobically challenging.

“We do a lot of breathing every three,” says Reese. “I do it to balance the stroke. I do it to cause the heart rate to go up without them having to go faster on a faster interval. Another way is to take three strokes off every wall without a breath or five fly kicks and three strokes without a breath,” says Reese.

Breathing bilaterally will help you even out those muscle imbalances (one of the leading causes of swimmer’s shoulder, by the way), improve aerobic capacity, and help you develop better breath control.

All the wins.

Image credit: Texas Athletics

More Stuff Like This:

This is How Fast Katie Ledecky Swims in Practice. Here are two more mid-distance sets that Katie Ledecky performed in the months leading up to her world-shattering performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Good luck!

Olympic Coach Gregg Troy’s Favorite Distance Workout. He has coached over 7 5different swimmers to the Olympics, including Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Lochte and much more. Troy, head coach at the University of Florida, shares with us with his all-time favorite distance workout.

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