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The Fishburn Set, or breaking the will to live at only 3500 yards.

posted Mar 5, 2012, 11:22 AM by Pat Windschitl   [ updated Mar 5, 2012, 11:22 AM ]
We talked last week on why and what it means to train at our EN (Endurance) threshold. This week I thought we could follow it up on one of my favorite old-school EN workouts, The Fishburn Set. We last did this set over the Winter break, so I think it's about time we revisited it. On the outside it looks fairly harmless: 
  • 5x100's
  • 4x200's
  • 3x300's
  • 2x400's
  • 1x500 
Right there the set's only 3500 yards, or roughly a little under half of what the Senior team might swim on any given night. But the trick in this set is with the intervals. We'd want to start is with our best 500 free time, which we will say is 5:50 for this example, and then we add 10 seconds, or 1 second per 50. This gives us a 6:00 per 500 pace, or a 1:12 per 100 pace. Now from the 500 we work back slowly, adding about 2 seconds per round. So now our set is:
  • 5x100 on a 1:20 pace, for a 1:20 interval
  • 4x200 on a 1:18 pace, for a 2:36 interval
  • 3x300 on a 1:16 pace, for a 3:48 interval
  • 2x400 on a 1:14 pace, for a 4:56 interval
  • 1x500 on a 1:12 pace, for a 6:00 interval
  • And for the swimmer killer. There should be no breaks between rounds. 
As a coach I love this type of set for EN training. By basing the top time off of your own personal best it forces you to swim at the standard you've set for yourself. And as an EN set, it trains the type of consistent, solid swimming, that won't let a swimmer bounce between near best times and REC pace. More importantly, it's a great mental set. 10 seconds off your best hold pace still puts you in an 80% effort level, or moderate work, and will hardly let you slack at all. As the interval drops it forces you to develop the kind of focus that turns off you brain and lets you just swim

As I said above this is an older set that's a favorite for traditional distance swimmers and coaches alike. It was developed by Bruce Fishburn in the early 1970's when he was swimming at Michigan State. That's right, a swimmer developed this set for his own workout. Just think about that the next time this set comes up. 
- Coach Pat