Swim Workouts From the Past: A Look at the Olympic-Road Training of Ryan Lochte

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Swim Workouts From the Past: A Look at the Olympic-Road Training of Ryan Lochte

Swimming World will occasionally brings its readers some workouts from the past. In this edition, the training of 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte is examined. The sets listed below were from the days leading into the 2008 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, a meet that set the stage for Lochte to deliver a strong performance at that summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

His coach, Gregg Troy, said the following sets were reflective of the work he typically had Lochte handle 10 to 12 days out of any championship: “They are very similar to what we would have done at the camp after qualifications. We took our volume up to 80 percent of our max for five to seven days, working on the aerobic system and very little stress. Then we returned to similar work to what we were doing outside of the Trials.”

JUNE 10, 2008

19 days out from Trials

Power Day (done mostly LC)

Coach Troy: “At this point, Ryan had dropped his main power work—no power towers, etc.—going with just surgical tubing in the water.”

• 20-minute straight swim (Lochte choice)
• 25 scull/25 drill
• 25 kick/25 perfect swim
• 100 build

• 9 x 50 free, fly, back/free, back, breast/free, breast, free on :60 (went inside for
• 4 x 25 sprint

Troy’s log is unclear as to whether Lochte did the back or breast portion here. He did do one of the following:

#1 to sharpen backstroke and IM
• 2 x 400 (build 100 back/swim 100 free breathing every 7)
:30 rest
• 10 x 25 sprint pull back with a band
• 2 x 400 back swim with paddles & fins, negative-split—interval 5:10-5:15
4,500 Meters

#2 to sharpen breaststroke and IM
• 3 x 100 breast on 1:50 (no times recorded)
#1 Holding very long stroke
#2 Picking up tempo

• 10 x 25
Odd: FAST backstroke
Even: Long and smooth breaststroke technique

• 4 x 150 stroke (most likely back that day)
• 100 free on 1:30 rest
• 25 breaststroke
4,000 Meters

Coach Troy: “On a day when doing power stuff, we are not looking at times as much as technique and effort. Given Ryan’s age and dynamics, every once in a while we might do a little mix and match, but it would probably be up to him to decide which one he feels he needs to work on. I’d give him a recommendation, but it would be one of these two practices. Something similar to this would be done on Tuesdays and Thursdays the rest of the way. If he was emphasizing backstroke on one day, we’d emphasize breaststroke on the other. We also might do some back/breast transition work as well.”

JUNE 11, 2008

18 days out from Trials

A Big Leg Emphasis Day (LC) – 5,200 Meters

• 20 x 50 (from middle of the pool, working on walls)
• 6 x 50 kick on 1:10
Odd: All-out
Even: Breathe every 7

Coach Troy: “Lochte kicked with a board, going :27 and change.”

• 3 x 75 kick all-out followed by 300 swim stressing technique (all on 6:30)

Coach Troy: “These were goal kicks aimed at Lochte being at his swim time or faster. If he is kicking backstroke, Ryan is probably kicking faster than his goal time (i.e., 50-point). Lochte has kicked 75 SCY on his back as fast as 34.2.”

• 2 x 300 back going 1:30 per 100
• 2 x 300 breast going 1:45 per 100
1:00 rest
• 2 x 300 back going 1:20 per 100
• 2 x 300 breast going 1:30 per 100
1:00 rest
• 6 x 250 free: 4 pull, 2 snorkel EZ (capped) on :30 rest

Coach Troy: “We never did these fast.”

JUNE 19, 2008

10 days out from Trials

Power and Speed Day (LC) – 3,500 Meters

• 8 x 100 IM on 1:45
• 6 x 75
Odd: 50 swim smooth, 25 kick FAST
Even: 25 swim FAST, 50 build
•150 kick for time

Coach Troy: “Two weeks out, we always timed a 50 back kick underwater. Ryan probably went sub-:23. His fastest is a 22.6.”

(Switched pools to SCM and did surgical tubing)
• 6 x 75: 2 fly, 2 back, 2 breast on 1:10
• 4 x 25 fast plus four partner pulls with tubing (this was speed-assisted work)

2x the following:
• 2 x 75 breast fins and paddles on 1:10-1:15
• 2 x 50 free recovery on :45
• 2 x 25 fly dive springs on 1:00
(Immediate repeat)

Coach Troy: “We play around with power and speed at this time of year. This Tuesday-to-Thursday series is similar to what we do during the season. In season, we do them on tighter intervals and more times through, so three weeks earlier, the practice length would have been 6,000. The purpose is to emphasize the middle of the IM while also getting power. This was pretty standard regarding what we would do 10 to 12 days out of any championship meet.”

JUNE 21, 2008

8 days out from Trials

4,000 Meters
• 1800 warm-up continuous
300 swim
300 kick/swim
400 IM drill/swim
800 choice

• 4 x 50 kick (casual on board)
• 4 x 200 pull (100 free/100 choice)
• 300 speed play (might be fast, 25 EZ, 25 fast/25 EZ, etc.)

Coach Troy: “…just checking speed.”

Priority Set
• 10 x 50 on 1:30 descend 1-4; then hold time done on #4; #5 on 1:20; #6 on 1:10;
#7 on 1:00; #8 on :50; #9 on :40; #10 on :30

Coach Troy: “Hold times are stroke-dependent. Ryan’s back would be descended faster than 200 pace. He would then try and hold it, looking for :28. On free, we were looking for 1:44 for 200—:26-plus on the 50. He would not do the set breaststroke or fly. Once in a while, we might do it IM—six fly or six back—but not usually.”

• Right into 400 EZ “and get out” (might do some starts and turns)

Coach Troy: “We were looking for 200 pace on this. If he was swimming well, he’d hold 200 pace all the way through. If he fell off a little bit toward the end of the set, I’d know he needed a little more rest.”

JUNE 23, 2008

6 days out from Trials

Coach Troy: “At this point, we are done with the hard work. We will check pace and heart rates. This was a heart-rate set. We mix some things up and try to hold on while we are resting.”

3x the following:
• 2 x 300 free (on #1, looking for HR 140-150; #2 HR 150; #3 HR 160-180)

Coach Troy: “We would adjust intervals based on how quickly Ryan was recovering. If he was recovering really well, we might go a little more.”

• 4 x 50 drill/swim on 1:15 (#1 fly, #2 back, #3 breast)
• 2 x 300 free on :20 rest
• 4 x 50 drill/swim on 1:15
1:00 rest and repeat

• Choice
#1 10 x 50 hypoxic free kick with board, or
#2 10 x 50 pull with a band—“probably hypoxic in some manner, breathing
every 3 or 5.”

Coach Troy: “Lochte’s warm-downs varied according to need—200 to 800. It was not something he was very good at. Usually, when he chose to do it, I would press him. Probably if we did what he wanted, it would be 200. If it was what I wanted, it was more like 800. If those 50s in the set were really cooking, or the 50s pull were much better than what I expected, then we might take a little more swim-down. If he was a little off and I could tell the effort wasn’t real hard, then he wouldn’t warm down as much.”

About the Author:

Michael J. Stott is an ASCA Level 5 coach whose Collegiate School (Richmond, Va.) teams won nine state high school championships. He was named a 2017 recipient of NISCA’s Outstanding Service Award.

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