Somewhere Over The Rainbow Are 100x100s

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Back in the 1970’s, former Harvard University coach Joe Bernal challenged his 16-year-old swimmer Bobby Hackett with some very tough distance freestyle sets including a set of 100×100 (yards) freestyle on 1:00.

Hackett’s tough, gut-busting workouts paid off as he swam to a silver medal in 15 minutes 3 second in the 1500m at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.

Hackett talked about his legendary training in the 1970’s with Olympic teammate and gold medalist Brian Goodell in the video below.

Hackett’s unprecedented workout caught the eye of other swim coaches and the tradition continues to carry on in pools around the world.

While few masters swimmers and age-group swimmers swim as fast as Hackett did in the 1970’s, some of them still like challenging themselves to a 10,000 yards or 10,000 meters set in the pool. In particular, during mid-season training or during the holiday season, many masters swimmers, marathon swimmers, and competitive swimmers test themselves in an annual 100 x 100 rite of passage in the pool.

The 100×100 pool swimming tradition took on an open water twist in Laguna Beach, California in 2012 when the late Lynn Kubasek and her fellow Oak Streeters (shown below) did 100 x 100s open water style.

Instead of doing one hundred one hundreds in a flat-water, warm-water, chlorinated setting while swimming circle pattern, the pod of open water swimmers challenged themselves to a century swim course in the dynamic environment of the Pacific Ocean at Laguna Beach.

We started in chest-deep water right by the lifeguard tower on Main Beach and head straight out to the outside buoy. This is 100 yards to the buoy, 200 yards round-trip. We tried to swim back and forth 50 times to get in our 10,000 or 100 x 100’s,” explained team motivator Scott Zornig.

Back in the warmer, more hospitable confines of swimming pools, locals do all kinds of 100×100 sets: some swimmers do a straight, non-stop set of 100 one-hundred-yard or one-hundred-meter swims. Others do all kinds of other variations.

Under the leadership of coach Michael Collins, the Nova Masters swimmers in Irvine, California put their own unique stamp on their 100x100s. Many of them annually do a pool-swimming Triple Crown during the winter season. “We have special swims in November, December, January called the Triple Crown. No equipment is used, but athletes can bring hydration on the pool deck during the Triple Crown,” explains Collins.

Collins’ three (short-course yard) workouts include as follows:
Part 1 includes 50 swims on a 1:40 interval for a total swimming time of 1 hour 24 minutes total time*
Part 2 includes 75 swims on a 1:30 interval for a total swimming time of 1 hour 53 minutes total time
Part 3 includes 100 swims on a 1:20 interval for a total swimming time of 2 hours 14 minutes

* faster swimmers like Lexie Kelly do 50×125 @ 1:40 with a 150-yard swim every 5th swim

Coach Collins lays out the rules and sets the bar for the stringent pool swimming Triple Crown:

1. Swimmers are not allowed to get in once the set begins.
2. Swimmers must do every repeat without sitting any out. If a swimmer is close to missing the chosen interval or need extra rest to re-fuel or hydrate, they can swim a shorter distance.
3. Swimmers cannot miss their chosen interval. If swimmers come in after the sendoff time, they must deduct one length from that repeat. For example, if they are alternating 100′s and 75′s on the 1:30 interval and they come in on the 100 at 1:32 it only counts as a 75.
4. Swimmers cannot use any equipment such as fins, paddles or buoys.
5. Swimmers must leave :05 apart and no earlier. 0:10 apart is acceptable if there is space in the lane.
6. Swimmers must complete all 3 practices to be listed in the Triple Crown of Pool Swimming final results.

2011 Triple Crown Part 1 Nova Masters from Nova Masters.

At California State University at Long Beach, there is a more traditional, lower-intensity 100 x 100 year-end set. “We start the first swim of the 100x100s at 6 am sharp.

For some, this workout may take up to 3.5 hours,” explains Coach Carri Cook.

Everyone makes sure they bring enough water to stay hydrated and some nutrition so they don’t bonk. Even if they cannot make the all the 100x100s, that is completely OK. We want swimmers to set a goal and let their lane mates know when they will be leaving the workout.”

The Long Beach Masters Team sets up 2 lanes of their 8-lane 50m pool to accommodate swimmers who swim straight through the entire 100x100s. Coach Cook sets up the 8 lanes according to the following times based off a short course yards base 100:

LANE 1: straight 100×100 with a base between 1:10-1:30
LANE 2: scheduled workout 1:10-1:15
LANE 3: scheduled workout 1:20-1:25
LANE 4: scheduled workout 1:30-1:35
LANE 5: straight 100×100 with a base of 1:40+
LANE 6: scheduled workout 1:40-1:45
LANE 7: scheduled workout 1:50-1:55
LANE 8: scheduled workout 2:00+

For the swimmers who do not swim straight through, Coach Cook has designed a 10,000m workout to keep the adults engaged, challenged, and moving through the 100×100. “Swimmers are allowed to use whatever equipment they like as long as they are not disrupting their lane mates. The workouts are printed and placed in each lane.”

Time: 6:00 am
5×100 Your Choice @ 1:45, 1:55, 2:10, 2:20, or 2:30 (choose your lane base)

Time: 6:10 am
5×100 [1. 100 swim @ 1:50, 2:00, 2:10, 2:20, 2:30, 2:40, 2:50, 3:00 (choose your lane base) + 2. 75 swim 25 kick + 3. 50 swim 50 kick + 4. 25 swim 75 kick + 5. 100 kick]

Time: 6:25 am
5×100 [1. 25 fly 75 free @1:40, 1:50, 2:00, 2:10, 2:20, 2:30, 2:40, 2:50 (choose your lane base) + 2. 25 free 25 back 50 free + 3. 50 free 25 breast 25 free + 4. All free + 5. IM]

Time: 6:30 am
For swimmers on the base short course yards of 1:10-1:15:

RD 1: 1×100 1:20 + 2×100 1:25 + 3×100 1:30 + 4×100 1:35 + 5×100 1:40
RD 2: 2×100 1:20 + 3×100 1:25 + 4×100 1:30 + 5×100 1:35 + 1×100 1:40
RD 3: 3×100 1:20 + 4×100 1:25 + 5×100 1:30 + 1×100 1:35 + 2×100 1:40
RD 4: 4×100 1:20 + 5×100 1:25 + 1×100 1:30 + 2×100 1:35 + 3×100 1:40
RD 5: 5×100 1:20 + 4×100 1:25 + 3×100 1:30 + 2×100 1:35 + 1×100 1:40

For swimmers on the base short course yards of 1:20-1:25:

RD 1: 1×100 1:30 + 2×100 1:35 + 3×100 1:40 + 4×100 1:45 + 5×100 1:50
RD 2: 2×100 1:30 + 3×100 1:35 + 4×100 1:40 + 5×100 1:45 + 1×100 1:50
RD 3: 3×100 1:30 + 4×100 1:35 + 5×100 1:40 + 1×100 1:45 + 2×100 1:50
RD 4: 4×100 1:30 + 5×100 1:35 + 1×100 1:40 + 2×100 1:45 + 3×100 1:50
RD 5: 5×100 1:30 + 4×100 1:35 + 3×100 1:40 + 2×100 1:45 + 1×100 1:50

For swimmers on the base short course yards of 1:30-1:35:

RD 1: 1×100 1:40 + 2×100 1:45 + 3×100 1:50 + 4×100 1:55 + 5×100 2:00
RD 2: 2×100 1:40 + 3×100 1:45 + 4×100 1:50 + 5×100 1:55 + 1×100 2:00
RD 3: 3×100 1:40 + 4×100 1:45 + 5×100 1:50 + 1×100 1:55 + 2×100 2:00
RD 4: 4×100 1:40 + 5×100 1:45 + 1×100 1:50 + 2×100 1:55 + 3×100 2:00
RD 5: 5×100 1:40 + 4×100 1:45 + 3×100 1:50 + 2×100 1:55 + 1×100 2:00

For swimmers on the base short course yards of 1:40-1:45:

RD 1: 1×100 1:50 + 2×100 1:55 + 3×100 2:00 + 4×100 2:05 + 5×100 2:10
RD 2: 2×100 1:50 + 3×100 1:55 + 4×100 2:00 + 5×100 2:05 + 1×100 2:10
RD 3: 3×100 1:50 + 4×100 1:55 + 5×100 2:00 + 1×100 2:05 + 2×100 2:10
RD 4: 4×100 1:50 + 5×100 1:55 + 1×100 2:00 + 2×100 2:05 + 3×100 2:10
RD 5: 5×100 1:50 + 4×100 1:55 + 3×100 2:00 + 2×100 2:05 + 1×100 2:10

For swimmers on the base short course yards of 1:50-1:55:

RD 1: 1×100 2:05 + 2×100 2:10 + 3×100 2:15 + 4×100 2:20 + 5×100 2:25
RD 2: 2×100 2:05 + 3×100 2:10 + 4×100 2:15 + 5×100 2:20 + 1×100 2:25
RD 3: 3×100 2:05 + 4×100 2:10 + 5×100 2:15 + 1×100 2:20 + 2×100 2:25
RD 4: 4×100 2:05 + 5×100 2:10 + 1×100 2:15 + 2×100 2:20 + 3×100 2:25
RD 5: 5×100 2:05 + 4×100 2:10 + 3×100 2:15 + 2×100 2:20 + 1×100 2:25

For swimmers on the base short course yards of 2:00+

RD 1: 1×100 2:15 + 2×100 2:20 + 3×100 2:25 + 4×100 2:30 + 5×100 2:35
RD 2: 2×100 2:15 + 3×100 2:20 + 4×100 2:25 + 5×100 2:30 + 1×100 2:35
RD 3: 3×100 2:15 + 4×100 2:20 + 5×100 2:25 + 1×100 2:30 + 2×100 2:35
RD 4: 4×100 2:15 + 5×100 2:20 + 1×100 2:25 + 2×100 2:30 + 3×100 2:35
RD 5: 5×100 2:15 + 4×100 2:20 + 3×100 2:25 + 2×100 2:30 + 1×100 2:35

Time: 8:18-8:25 am

Pull Set
4x [2×100]
1.) Breath Control (RD1/12,RD2/10,RD3/8,RD4/6) @1:20, 1:30, 1:40, 1:50, 2:00, 2:10, 2:20
(choose your lane base)
2.) DPS (RD1 count strokes, RD2 -4 strokes, RD3 -6, RD4 -8) @1:40, 1:50, 2:00, 2:10, 2:20
(choose your lane base)
2×100 warm down


But there may be no pool swimming rite of passage like what Coach Mark Wagner does in Redding in northern California. One hundred one hundreds” takes on an entirely new meaning to Wagner’s swimmers.

His old-school 20th century test of stamina and mental strength is a precursor to Ned Denison‘s English Channel preparation of his 100×200 set. Hell Week at the Redding Swim Team includes one five-day period of a set of 100 x 100 … done twice per day. That is 20,000 yards per day five days in a row or a total of 100 km (62 miles).

Lexie Kelly (shown above), recalls, “I was so tired [during Hell Week] that I didn’t even want to brush my hair. But we all did it and we looked forward to it. I did it year after year with the rest of the team.”

When a swimmer inevitably feels down, tired or depressed during an open water swim, they dig deep – or get out. Successful swimmers often dig deeper than they ever experienced or even knew possible. With Hell Well’s 10 x 100 x 100, the athletes at the Redding Swim Team have the experience to ride the storm, weather the obstacles, and overcome the barriers.

Coach Wagner explains his philosophy, “It’s a test mentally and physically for the athletes. It’s seems scary for the rookies, but once they complete it, the sense of accomplishment is unmatched. For the seasoned athletes, it provides a different test: I’m really tough enough mentally to go through this again physically. The surprising results those athletes realize they can handle anything mentally or physically.”

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