Brett Hawke is a former competitive swimmer and coach. He represented Australia at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics and won 7 international medals. As an Auburn Tigers swimmer, he earned 17 All-American honors and 9 NCAA titles. After his pro swimming career, he became an Assistant Coach at Auburn University. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he guided Cesar Cielo to victory in the Men's 50 Freestyle. Cesar's gold medal swim was the first in Brazil's history. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Brett helped guide Bruno Fratus to a Bronze medal in the Men's 50 Free. Today, Brett hosts the #1 swimming podcast in the world, “Inside with Brett Hawke” where he interviews some of the world’s highest performing swimmers (and humans). He is also the Head of Creator Acquisition at AnyQuestion!
To increase turn speed, focus on ankle speed when doing a flip turn and land softly with proper foot position on the wall. Transcript: "Alrighty, let's address turn speed first. Think of your ankles, whether that be in an open turn, fly or breast turn, get the ankles to the butt as fast as you can. That speed there is going to help in turn speed. Ankles to the butt. In freestyle and backstroke, it's the same turn. It's a front flip turn. So think of ankles going from back here to over here as fast as you possibly can. So the best way to do that is to keep the ankles low, all right? Keep the ankles low on the surface of the water. Don't bring the ankles up and over. A lot of people will throw their ankles up high and slap them down on the water when they're doing a flip turn. Ankles low to the surface of the water. Get that speed around there. So it's all about ankle speed. That's where I'd focus. And then your push off the wall, this is really important. So foot position is going to be critical. If your feet are crossing over or if your feet are too wide or if they're too high or too low, foot position is always going to be critical. And again, don't throw your feet at the wall. If you throw them, they get stuck. If you land softly, you have the ability to come off the wall really quickly. So I tell my athletes to, yes, throw your feet around as fast as you can, but land soft, almost like a cat falling out of a tree. You see this cat like, meow, and then it'll land on its feet really softly and then dart off real quick. So throw those ankles over fast, but land soft enables you to get off really quickly. Foot position is going to be critical on the wall."
Brian Sutton was an underrated coach who created a set that is still used today. It consists of 25m at 100 pace, followed by varying levels of aerobic swimming and a 50m push back end. The rest for the aerobic component varies depending on the athlete's event, ranging from 10 seconds for 200 swimmers to more for sprinters like Mel. After completing one round, you take a couple minutes rest and do it all again, six rounds in total. Transcript: "Mel, I had one of the most underrated coaches in all of Australian swimming. I don't think he'll go down as one of the greats, but I truly believe he is. His name is Brian Sutton. Now, Brian was a physiologist by nature, but he was so good at the psychology of swimming, too. I mean, he challenged me more than any other coach that I had mentally. Every day, I was on edge, but physically as well. So he created a set that I've used multiple times-- still use to this day. And I was doing this back when I was trying to develop my 100 freestyle. But I used it with all the greats that I've ever coached, and I'll highly recommend it. 25 from the block. Then the varying levels of aerobic swimming between that will differ between certain types of sprinters. So, for me, it was a 25 aerobic. For other people it was a 75 or a 125, depending on how much aerobic they needed in between that and how much rest they needed after that 25 front end. But you determine that. But basically a 25 front end at 100 pace. You've got to be at that pace you want to be out on the first 25 of your 100. You do your aerobic swimming, and then you do a 50-push back end after you've done your aerobic. The rest of the aerobic, again, varies between athletes. It might be a little bit more for someone like me. It might be a little bit less for someone that swims at 200, maybe 10 seconds. But then you push that back end, and you've got to be at your back end speed. That's one round. Then you rest, take a couple minutes' rest and you do it all again, maybe six rounds of that-- everything at pace, everything at speed. The aerobic component is keeping the heart rate up so that by the time you get to that back end, you've still got that heart pumping a little bit. Go six rounds of that. I think it's one of the best sets ever created by Brian Sutton."
I have a dog and we are on the same team. Transcript: "Take your mark. Yep. Yep. You got a one. I got a dog, yeah. Ten one. One team, one--"
Tyler McGill swam a progression of 100s at 80%, 85%, 90%, 93%, 95% and 98% of his goal time in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics, Olympic trials. He was spot on for the whole progression and ended up finishing second in the event, almost beating Michael Phelps. This predictor set is good for athletes who are really locked in and believe in it. Transcript: "Jake, I got a really good set that I did with Tyler McGill in the build up to the 2012 Olympics, Olympic trials, where he qualified for the US team in the 100 butterfly, finishing second, almost beating Michael Phelps in the trials actually, swimming a best time. And what we did is we did a predictor set in the lead up to that, and I'll walk you through it. So it was basically a progression of 100s at a certain percentage. So we had a goal time of, let's say, 51 flat, which he was right on that goal time at the end of the season. And this was a very good predictor of this. So we did six 100s at 80% on three minutes. So we took that goal time. We calculated what 80% would be based on the actual number and the percentage of your goal time. And we did six 100s on three minutes. OK? And he would hit that. Then the next week would come back and go five 100s at 85% on four minutes. All right? The week after that, four 100s, 90% on five minutes. The following week, three 100s at 93% on six minutes. Then the last couple of weeks, right during taper, we would actually put a suit on and go two 100s at 95% on 10 minutes. And then about a week out, we would do 100 at 98%, suited, and he would be right on his goal time. And that's when we knew without a doubt he was going to hit this goal time because the progression of that set, going from the six 100s at 80% down to a full suited swim at 98% of his goal time, he was spot on for that whole progression. So that's a really interesting one. I think you can play with that. I think it works for certain athletes who are really locked in and believe in it. Give it a shot, and see what happens."
Richard Quick gave Misty Hyman a set before the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The set was 1050s fly, one on 131, one on 25, 20, 15, 10, 105, 60, 55, 50, 45 and she had to hold a pace of 30 seconds or maybe even 29 seconds for 50 long course meters throughout the whole set. After completing this set, Richard Quick knew she was sure to win the gold medal. Transcript: "Jake, Richard Quick gave me a set that he did with Misty Hyman before she won the 200 butterfly at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Surprise victory. Beat Susie O'Neill from lane six came from nowhere and just destroyed this race. But he told me that he would do a set with her in the lead up to the Sydney Olympics where, I think, about a week out, she did it. And he knew she was going to win the gold medal. I wrote down the set, so let's have a look at it here. So you got 1050s fly, one on 131, one on 25, 20, 15, 10, 105, 60, 55, 50, 45. But she had to hold a pace. And I think from memory, he told me she was holding 30 seconds or maybe even 29 seconds for 50 long course meters throughout this whole set. What an effort. Incredible set. And he told me after she did that one, it was gold for sure."
In 2009, I put my swimmers through a grueling set of 50 flys with push-ups and pull-ups in between each one. This was after a dual meet between Auburn and Texas that didn't go well for us. It was an illegal practice, but you can find videos of it online if you google "float swimming Auburn practice 2009". Transcript: "Henry, 2009, we actually had a dual meet Auburn versus Texas in January of 2009. And at that time, I felt like our team underperformed. They really didn't give the effort I felt like they were capable of, and Texas ran over us in our home pool. And after the dual meet-- the dual meet went for about two hours-- everybody competed, raced all the full events. We went outside in the long course pool. By that stage, it was nighttime. It was getting cold because it was January, and we did a little practice out there that I would say was probably the toughest physically and mentally that I've ever given anybody. What we ended up doing was a set of 50s. From the block, you had to dive a 50 fly. And then you had to do some push-ups at the end of the pool. And then you had to run back. And we had a set of pull-up bars. You had to do a set of 10 pull-ups. And then you had to get back on the block and do a 50 fly. And we just kept repeating this. We didn't give them a limit on how many we were doing, but we took them to the breaking point. There was some really interesting things going on. I don't know how legal it was at the time in terms of-- I don't think you're allowed to do practices at the end of dual meets but something that we did. I even think you can look it up. It's on the internet. If you go to like a float-- I think float swimming was there and they might have put it. So if you google in like you float swimming Auburn practice 2009, you might be able to find this thing out there. But it was one of the craziest, funniest, toughest sets I've ever given."