This is a explanatory post of a comment from a friend and coach that I have known for a number of years. The original note on his set follows.
You begin by swimming 4x200, descending 1-4 on a relatively loose interval (~:45 rest). After completing the 4th 200, you immediately begin another set of 4x200 descending, with the 1st swim of this second set swum faster than the 1st swim of the first set, the 2nd swim of this set faster than the 2nd swim of the 1st set, etc. Then you do a 3rd set of 4x200, this time with the 1st 200 swum faster than the 1st 200 of the 2nd set, and so forth.
We tackled this in a recent morning workout with our live folks. Some lanes did all 12, and due to time constraints other lanes did 9, but I will say 9 was sufficient for folks who did not have much experience with this challenge. As the set wore on, our coach Dave Luscan advised the folks that "the next to last repeat is the main concern". That is, they simply had to find the control and, once again, patience, to execute the next to last swim properly, but still have something left for the final swim.
WARMUP 1 X 300 done as 50 CHOICE / 25 PULL 12 X 25 Float & Paddle, ALT. 25 SLOW/25 FAST on :10 REST 6 X 50 SWIM on :10 REST ODD - 1-BEAT, BUILD EVEN - 2-BEAT NEG SPLIT
MAIN SET 4 x (3 x 200 DESCEND 1-3 on (6:00 or 5:15 or 4:00) DESCEND ACROSS SETS!
200 EASY SWIM w/FAST BREAKOUTS
Example: lane 2 did 9x200, the times for the leader of that lane were:
4:05, 3:50, 3:45
4:00, 3:50, 3:35
3:40, 3:30, 3:12
Observing the :53 delta (:27.5 /100!) from the first to last swim, the level of control and patience require comes into focus.
"The arabic word for it is "sabr". Patience. Patience is why it worked. I have a pet set I do where we go 3x4x200 on 3:15 Long Course Meters with decent (2:00-2:10) freestylers. What we do is descend down each set of 4 and across each set of 3.
You MUST start off with control or you're toast by #8. 7-8-11-12 are really the fastest ones. 1-5-9 act almost as recovery repeats.
This morning I had a 15 year old boy go 2:04 on his 12th one... His PR is 2:00! Always swimming fast isn't the best idea. Working across energy systems (Aerobic to Threshold to VO2 through a set) works really well. I always tell our kids going the same speed isn't practice, it's water aerobics. Constantly change speeds and you'll get faster development. And if you do open water or triathlons, it works on your ability to change speeds as the race changes speeds around you. Try it. See if you like it."