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 swim a fast 100 you need to have an attack mindset and a plan. You need to commit to this attitude in your training and bring it into your race. Transcript: "See, I really like this question because I think this is a big part of whether you have success or failure in the hundred free. It's actually got to do with your mindset. And if you take a really close look at the men's and women's 100 freestyles from around the world, the best ones, whether they be in high school or college or professionally swimming on the international stage, the best athletes have an attack mindset. So you've got to come to terms with the fact-- before the race happens, you've got to have a plan, and you've also got to have an idea in your head of how you're going to attack it. Some people do like to hold back slightly on that first 50 and close it up like a David Popovich, for example, young guy might be a good example of that on the men's side. But most of the best athletes these days are attacking the front end. And so you've got to commit to that. It's a mental commitment to say, I'm going to go at full speed here, which is kind of like your front end speed with your breathing. You've got to go with an attack mindset, and then close it up the best way you can. Now, all of this takes training. You've got to have this training. You've got to have this mindset in your training, which then you apply to your racing. But I agree, swimming a fast 100 comes down to mindset and a decision that you make to stick to a plan."
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Top speed training involves breaking down a 50m into 10m sprints with varying levels of resistance. For example, one round could be completed with a shirt on, the second round with drag socks, and the third round without any equipment. After that, a fast 50 kick and a fast 50 kick with fins can be added to build up speed as if it were a race. Transcript: "Petra, so here is an example of top speed training that I did just recently, where basically, you see here I've got a broken 50s. OK. A set of broken 50s. 5 10 minute sprints with 20 seconds rest. So I'm breaking the 50 down into short segments of 10 meter sprints. The first round was with shirts, underwater sprints. OK. So that's just working 10 minute, dolphin kick off the wall with a shirt on. And then the next round is with the drag socks. And then the last round, you take everything off and just do no equipment, no resistance. And then the second round was with fins and this is kick. You can do the same set sprint swimming. So you could swim with a shirt on, you could swim with the socks on, and then you could take it all off and swim without. You can mix it up, kick. You can mix it up, swim. You can put fins on with it. But this is top end sprinting swimming, where it's just back to back sprinting, broken 50s. It's just a way to get creative with your top end speed. There's many different ways to do it. And then after that, obviously, down here, you'll see we did a fast 50 kick and then a fast 50 kick with fins on. So you build in the whole race after that. So again, you could do that swim, both of those. These are broken swims. These are straight swims. Hopefully, that'll help with your understanding of what we're getting at in terms of top end speed."
I coached Cody Simpson to do a speed endurance butterfly set, where he did 3 rounds of 425s on 30 seconds, 3 rounds on 25 seconds, 3 rounds on 20 seconds, and 3 all out fast rounds on 20 seconds. In between the rounds, we had him take some easy swings. Transcript: "Henry, this is a question I was asking myself when I was coaching Cody Simpson who went from being a musician to a one of the best butterfly swimmers in the world, qualified for the Olympic trials. And one of the workouts that I did with him is something like this where it was 425s, 3 rounds descend, descend the rounds 1 to 3. First grouping here is on 30 seconds. And then we did 3 rounds descend 1 to 3 on 25 seconds, and then we did 3 rounds descend 1 to 3 on 20 seconds, and then the last 3 rounds were all out fast on 20 seconds down there. In between we did some easy swing between each fall, but that would be an example of speed endurance fly set that, like I said, we did with pop star, Cody Simpson."
Before getting in the pool, warm-up on the deck with some light exercises. In the pool, go through a natural progression of warming up your body and doing some pace work to get your heart rate up. After you're done, put on some clothes and a hood to stay warm and get into race mindset. Transcript: "Henry, a couple of things come to mind when you're looking at your warm-ups. So first of all, the purpose of the warm-up is to warm up. You want to be ready. You want to be race ready. You want to be neurologically, physically, everything-- everything needs to be turned on. So, for me, it starts before you get into the pool. You want to get to the pool. You want to do some pre-warm-up type stuff so that you're loosening up on the pool deck and getting the heart rate going a little bit on the deck. A lot of people like to skip. Some people like to do some sit-ups and some medicine ball throw-downs, a little bit of jogging, some stretching, some loosening, kind of warming the body up. Get in the pool then. Go through a natural progression of getting the body ready to race. So by the time you get to the end of your warm-up, you want to be doing some pace work. You want to be getting your heart rate up. You want to be maybe getting off the blocks, feeling the blocks, going through some turns, getting race ready. And then after you get out of the pool, you got to stay warm. You got to put your clothes on. You got to put a hood on. Put some gloves on. And get in that mindset of being ready to race."
Khalid did a VO2 max set with Bruno that involved 6 times 50, descending from 29 to 25 seconds. He then held 27 for 3, held 25 for 3 on 60 seconds, and then held 25 for 6 times 50 on 60 seconds. The results of the set were good. Building into the end of the set and holding and maximizing towards the back end with built in success is the best way to do a VO2 max set for a sprinter. Transcript: "Hey, Khalid, listen we kind of did a VO2 max set tonight of some sort with Bruno. It was a 6 times 50, hold 29s, hold 27s, hold 25s. Then on this round we did descend 1 to 3-- 29, 27, 25, 2 times. These are on 50 seconds the first few rounds. And we came down here we held 27 for 3, held 25 for 3 on 60 seconds, and then we got down here it was 6 times 50 hold 25 on 60. That was the VO2 max type work that we built into. Here's the results. He did really well. So that's the way I like to build my VO2 max. It's just building into the set and then holding and maximizing towards the back end of the set with built in some success. So that would be my best explanation of a VO2 max set for a sprinter."