Sample Set For Your First Social Distancing Swim Practice

By SwimSwam Partner Content
May 28th, 2020

courtesy, a SwimmersBest brand

We are all dying to get back in the water and many states are starting to make that possible for swim teams. So we all need to find the best way for kids to come back to practice safely. Right now it’s about them getting back to the water and moving. At first many teams are starting with just 1-2 swimmers per lane. But eventually we all need to add more swim groups and begin to increase the number of swimmers per lane while also keeping the swimmers socially distanced.

The easiest way to socially distance swimmers with five kids per lane is to use the whole length of the pool and distance your swimmers evenly down the lane with a Station Marker. This means everyone starts at the same time from along the lane and no one is on the walls together. Each swimmer has their own color Station Marker to use as their ‘home base’ to stop and start all of their in-water distances. Swimmers can store their gear (paddles, snorkel, fins) in a Gear Hammock that clips under the lane line and out of the way. Their kickboard and buoy can be hung vertical in the water and mounted to the lane line as well. Storing all equipment at their ‘home base’ means no one needs to go back to the wall (unless for organized dive sets) for the entire practice.

This article details a simple workout to get you started with your first practice. You will quickly find that when everyone starts at locations NOT at the wall, there are a few confusing things that need to be addressed in your sets and in the swimmers’ understanding/training. Therefore, this set helps explain and train the swimmers of most of the things that will change during their workouts without starting and finishing at walls.

For this set we are using the Station Marker. Here is a video of the system in use and ideas and some of the different possibilities for a set:

While using this system there are a few things you need to understand:

  1. A normal 50 freestyle can be done 2 ways
    1. True 50 FR: this is where the swimmer starts and stops with their station marker on their right
    2. Wall-to-Wall 50 FR: this is where they do an easy FR to the wall then a normal 50 FR and an easy swim back to their station (this actually comes out as a True 100 from ‘home base’ and back)
  2. Keep it simple for the first few practices so your swimmers can get used to the new system
  3. 25s can be done. You have to explain to the kids that they go to the opposite marker. So if they are at the flags in the shallow end, they stop under the deep end flags. I would recommend adding these a couple practices into using this system. But this (and 75’s) require that you place the Station Markers in line with each other and uniformly – such as under the flags, at the red line and at perfect center of the pool (which gives you 5 locations per lane without anyone on the wall). Here is a review of how to set up the colors to make 25s, 75s, 125, etc. easier:
  4. You can do long distances with this system. We are presenting shorter distances such as 100’s for the sake of training but of course you can do any length you want.

When using this system, we know that it can be a learning curve for both you and your swimmers. Once you and your swimmer get used to this system, you can start exploring more complex high intensity components. This link offers plenty of set ideas and example components for social distancing practices from the lanes instead of the walls:

Here is a simple set to use as your first set just to help train your swimmers how to function without stopping at the walls all the time (we tear down each piece with support video later in this article). The goal of this first session is to familiarize the swimmers with the various changes needed when you don’t start every set from the wall. You can share the videos with your swimmers in advance so they are familiar with how things will be different when they start back up.

Warm-up (400 yds) – Acclimate Swimmers to True and Wall-to-Wall Distances
True 50 EZ pace
Wall-to-Wall 50 EZ pace (actually true 100 yards)
3x True 50 Race Descends for time (coach calls out time or swimmers look at clock)
Wall-to-Wall 50 EZ pace (actually true 100 yards)

Pre-Main Set (650-1,300 yds)
1-2 x through
True 100 PULL ONLY
True 100 on Back Flow
4x Wall-to-Wall 50 All out Race Pull ONLY (100 true yards each)
True 50 Back kick

Main Set (2,100-3,500 yds)
3-5 x through
200 FR swim (Build speed every time pass your marker on the right)
8x True 50 Race (200 IM order)
2x True 50 FR swim Heads Up to mid-pool
True 200 BK swim

Warm Down (200 yds)
True 200 FR swim

Total of 3,350 – 5,350 yds

Explanation of set components:
True 50 EZ pace

True Swim Distances (Station to Station): We use the word ‘true’ to let our swimmers know that they will be swimming an actual distance (50, 100, 200, etc.) from their Station Marker back to their Station Marker to finish.

Video: Social Distancing – Teaching ‘True’ Distances from Station to Station. This video introduces the ‘true’ distance concept for swimmers from their stations.

Wall-to-Wall 50 EZ pace

Wall-to-Wall Races: With everyone starting along the lane lines, racing the clock or just for effort between walls is something we have to rethink a little. Since in most cases we don’t have our swimmers starting at a wall, we need to add an ‘easy swim’ to the first wall and then after they finish their ‘wall’ distance they will need to continue swimming back to their station marker at the end of the set distance. This adds 50 yards to any ‘wall to wall’ race swim component.

Video: Social Distancing – Wall-to-Wall Races (How to). In this video we introduce the idea of swimming ‘wall-to-wall’ distances while swimming an ‘easy’ free to and from the wall start point (i.e a 100 wall-to-wall is actually 150 total swim distance but you only race the middle 100).

2 x True 50 Race for time (coach calls out time or swimmers look at clock)

True Swim Distance Races (Station to Station): We use the word ‘true’ to let our swimmers know that they will be swimming an actual distance (50, 100, 200, etc.) from their Station Marker back to their Station Marker to finish. Racing a true distance means the swimmers have to get their times and get used to racing to precisely their marker. If you are using headsets, the coach can call out every second as swimmers are finishing, or you can have them check the clock as they hit their marker.

Video: Social Distancing – Race Sprints with True Distances. Here we demonstrate how swimmers race from their station and back while getting their race times as finishing at their station.

True 100 on Back Flow

Flow Drills: Eddie Reese promotes the use of ‘on the back undulations’ (or Flow) as something he does with college swimmers for 800 yards per day. This builds the core muscles so critical to the central connection for all 4 stroke types. In this video we demonstrate using Flow with the Pro Eel-Fin (and Junior size) for 100 yards. Our swimmers warm up with this drill every day. We rotate through a range of 8-10 different gear types each day to target their technique and muscles slightly differently. We rotate between no equipment, different types of fins, Power Bags on calves, Single Ankle Buoys, FlexRights, Power Chutes, parachutes, weight belts, ankle weights and other gear.

Video: Social Distancing – Flow Drill (with Pro Eel-Fin). A normal Flow Drill for 100 yard true distance.

2 x True 50 FR swim Heads Up to mid pool

Heads Up FR/BK Strokes: A great way to improve on the power of the upper body is with heads up strokes. This can be hard on the shoulders of course and should be minimized to short distances and minimal yardage per workout.

Video: Social Distancing – True 100 FR Heads up to Mid-Pool.

True 200 BK swim (Build)

Building Tempo with Metronome App: Metronome apps can be downloaded on your phone and played through your headset so all swimmers are stroking in tempo together. This is an ideal way to train the power required to sustain effort through long races such as 200’s. There are a ton of ways you can combine coach/swimmer headsets and tempo metronome apps (

Video: Social Distancing – True 200 BK swim. Building tempo with metronome app on phone

This set gives you the opportunity to make it your own. There is room for equipment such as fins, paddles, drag equipment and such. We would love to hear your set ideas as you get creative with practices and this system.

See Backyard Pool Resistance Kits
Additional Sets and Components