The Fishburn Set

by Evan Morrison. 26 January 2011.

I love Chloe Sutton’s Twitter feed.  She occasionally posts a set she just did in practice, and they’re invariably ridiculous. Yesterday Chloe did a set that I recognized from my youth. It’s called the Fishburn Set, and it goes like this:

That’s only 3,500 yards - not an unfathomable distance, especially for an elite distance swimmer. The key to the Fishburn Set is the intervals. For the first round of 5×100, the interval should be one that you can make (not too hard, not too easy). Then, in the subsequent rounds, your interval increases by a fixed amount. That amount must be less than the first interval.

So, let’s say you do the 5×100’s on 1:20, and your “increase” is 1:10. That would produce the following set:

It’s supposed to be a very challenging set, and if you design your intervals correctly, the interval on the final 500 should be perhaps just a bit slower than you could do a single 500 AFAP (as fast as possible) in practice.

Chloe’s intervals? 1:05, 2:05, 3:05, 4:05, and 5:05. Needless to say: Pretty awesome. I’d be happy just to make the first 5×100.

The Fishburn Set has been around a long time, and is a favorite of certain old-school distance coaches and swimmers - such as, to pick a random example, Bill Rose (Chloe’s coach at Mission Viejo).

One of my own former coaches is himself a proud member of the “old school,” and I figured he might know the origin of the Fishburn Set. He did. Apparently, it was invented by Bruce Fishburn, a swimmer at Michigan State in the early 1970’s.

So now you know.

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Posted in: training Tags: sets


On 2011-01-27 11:11:09, Adam B said:
I noticed this set as well. I really never train old-school distance, but if I ever feel the need I'd like to give this one a go. It seems like the 2x400 would be the worst of it.

On 2011-01-27 11:20:54, Evan said:
Yeah, if memory serves, the upchuck moment was somewhere around the last 300 & first 400. But the biggest mental hurdle is making the first 300 - once you're there, the intervals aren't getting much faster on a per-100 basis.

On 2011-01-29 06:29:30, IronMike said:
That set looks a good way.

On 2011-01-29 10:43:26, Bo said:
You distance swimmers are crazy :-) To me a distance swim is a 200. Evan..... Congrats on the USMS All American & All Star!!!!!!!! I'm actually able to swim a lot more now that we have 3 coaches (including me). I'm managing 4-5 swims a week now. Bo

On 2011-01-29 17:54:28, Evan said:
Thanks Bo! Must be nice to have others to take some of that coaching load off your back. And I see lots of new faces on the website. Go Sharks!