Swim Coaches Newsletter


Rules:Don’t forget to submit your eligibility sheets to me.  These can sent as combined or in boys/girls format.  If you’re considering submitting someone for the John Sonka Award, (http://ncasb.org/sports/ncasb-swimming/sonka-award/) please, be preparing that now.

Q & A

Here’s a question for the Swimming Director?

Q – What type of dryland exercises do you incorporate into your program?  I’d like to hear what each of the teams are doing to help build strength in their swimmers.

A – Submit your input by email to Jim at youthletics@columbus.rr.com.  I’ll post all results from this question in the next newsletter.

Please contribute to the Q & A and direct any suggestions or comments to Coach Jim at youthletics@columbus.rr.com

Note: the NF rule book is available for download  at www.nfhs.org/ebooks  code: SWRB17.



Tip of the Week

Equipment – What should you have and what are the pros and cons?  The basic pieces of equipment I think each swimmer should have include kickboard, pull-buoy, hand paddles, fins and snorkel.

Kickboard – isolates the legs while providing a little frontal buoyancy.    You can get these very inexpensively and save even more by cutting the regular size boards in half!  Swimmers don’t need a surf board just something to hang on to.  A smaller board allows them to streamline and maintain a proper body position while kicking.

Pull-buoy – isolates the arms while providing buoyancy for the legs.  Again don’t’ get fancy, the basic Styrofoam cylinders attached by rope provides everything you need.  Experiment by adjusting the placement from upper thigh to lower calf and see what this does to their ability to maintain body position and breathing technique.

Hand paddles – I prefer the basic rectangular paddles but some of the more expensive ones can be effective due to their ergonomic fit.  Problem is when you lose one you lose the pair.  If purchasing for a team I would buy the basic.  Experiment with them wearing only one while the other is bare handed.  They’ll be able to contrast the difference in pressure on their palms immediately.

Fins – basic training fins.  Do not use fins designed for snorkeling or scuba diving; they’re too large and not only ineffective, but, potentially placing too much stress on the ankles causing soreness and injury.  Fins are a great way to add “speed” to any set.  Extreme caution should be exercised as they will travel much faster causing a change in their stroke count and posing a risk of running into the wall.  Streamlining or using a “catch-up” stroke is recommended.   Tappers for all swimmers while using fins is a good idea.  Use fins to develop both flutter kick and dolphin kick.

Snorkels – swim training snorkels are very effective in correcting head and body position.  Being able to keep the head in proper alignment without the need to turn or lift the head for a breath allows the swimmer to concentrate on proper stroke or kick patterns for extended periods of time.  Snorkels are relatively expensive ($25-$30) apiece and not something you’ll want your athletes sharing.  Money well spent if you or the athlete can afford them.

Weekly Workout (Abbreviations are listed at bottom of this page)

Modify each workout (distances, cycles, etc.), to meet the needs and abilities of your swimmers.  Taking time to teach each drill is important.  These workouts assume knowledge of drills.                                                 

WU      100 Sw Free – 100 Sw Back – 100 Sw Choice

Streamline drill – 7 -7’s (from ready position streamline a minimum of 7 yards 7 times while holding perfect positon).  Swimmers may walk or swim back in an adjacent lane to keep the flow one way.  (this is the last time I’ll post this as you get the idea it increases incrementally each week.)

K 8 x 25 alt dolphin kick on back with fltr on back x 25’s –  (very tight streamline on back) :05 ri after the first 25 and plus :05 for each thereafter, ( :05, :10, :15, etc.)

Dr Back – 4 x 4 x 50 C :10-:15 ri per 50 and an additional 1:00ri between sets.

Odd 50’s = (25 Fingertip drag(see “Drill of the Week”/25 swim)

Even 50’s = (25 swim DPS/ 25 bld to fast)

Sw Fr (aerobic)  8 x 75 mid 25 is very fast :30 ri per 75 fast.  600 yds

Sw Bk 8 x 25  C 1-2:00        Back start, sprint to wall – all very fast!

WD Sw 200 +/-                                                                                                     2300 yds

Stroke drill(s) of the week – Backstroke Fingertip drag

You may be familiar with the “zipper” or “ride the side” drill in Freestyle.  The swimmer drags their thumb along the side of their body from hip to armpit during the recovery phase.  The Fingertip drag in Backstroke is similar in that you want the hands in close to the body, however, the fingertips are facing up just slightly above the surface as the hand is pushed from ribcage to hip in the propulsive phase of the stroke.

Start with the swimmer on their back, hands down (you can give them a pull buoy for their legs if they require additional buoyancy).  With a light kick the swimmer pumps their hands up and down the side of their torso (high on ribcage to the hips) with more pressure on the downward press keeping their fingers slightly out of the water.  They should push down until the elbow and wrist are fully extended.  Next step is to alternate arms in the same movement.  Next add the same side hip rotating up and out of the way as the swimmer “pumps” alternate arms.  Isolate one arm and add a straight arm recovery having the swimmer bring their hand into their ribcage as quickly as possible.  Remember this is all being done with a “fingertip” drag on the propulsive phase.  Finally, have them do the same motion but with their fingers pointed towards the side wall keeping them under water.  You now have a very functional and efficient backstroker!

Here is a fantastic resource for teaching all the basics from USA Swimming. http://www.usaswimming.org/_Rainbow/Documents/eb0df286-b6e1-45ee-91e3-5216f393541b/Teaching%20the%20Strokes%20to%20Developmental%20Swimmers.pdf


Dryland exercise of the week Windmill Planks

                Planks of any kind if done properly are one of the best exercises for swimmers.  We do them every day and in a variety of styles.  They are one of my favorite exercises because they mimic the horizontal position of the body in the water.  Benefits include increased strength in the shoulder and core areas.  Windmill planks begin in the typical shoulder plank with the hands directly below the shoulders.  Weight is distributed as evenly as possible between the hands/shoulders and the feet.  The swimmer alternates rotating on the supporting shoulder while the opposite hand reaches for the ceiling directly above the swimmer.



Swimmers need to refuel with carbohydrates and protein immediately after practice.  If their scheduled meal is more than 20 minutes post practice I would suggest they consume a PowerBar or similar supplement.  Chocolate milk and a peanut butter sandwich is a great recovery snack after a difficult practice.  Proper recovery nutrition will reduce the likelihood of cramping, soreness and fatigue that may carry into the next day’s practice.  Maintain this same philosophy for post-race/meet situations as well.


Throughout the season as practices become more advanced these abbreviations will help you understand the workouts a little better:

Codes –

best avg – best effort over entire set,  Bk – Backstroke, Br – Breaststroke, build – increase speed over designated distance, C –cycle,  Catch-up  – overlapping stroke, dol – dolphin kick, DPK -Distance per kick, DPS -Distance per stroke, Dr –Drill, Fl- Butterfly,     fltr – flutter kick, Fr-Freestyle, K –Kick, K-6’s –(K 6 times on alternate sides),  R/L K-6’s (K 6 times for each arm pull remaining on same side for designated distance), P1- Pull w/ pullbouy, P2 – Pull w/ pullbouy and paddles, ri – rest interval,  R/L – right/left, RP Race Pace, Sc – Sculling,  Sw- Swim, LT- lactate tolerance, WU/WD warm-up/warm-down.

  Jim Peterfish is the Swimming Director of the NCASB and member of USA Swimming National Disability Committee. Please contribute to the Q & A and direct any suggestions or comments to Coach Jim at youthletics@columbus.rr.com

About Jim Peterfish

NCASB Swim Director Former PE Teacher, Swim Coach and AD at OSSB
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