Training Groups (T2 then T1)

T1/T2 NOVA 1 HOUR SESSION (8pm 25 NOV 08)                (MSM SC T2/T1  27 NOV 2016)

I followed this exactly six years ago. Poolside under the supervision of Bill Furniss with double gold Olympian in the lane. There are eight of us on the ASA Level III Senior Club Coach course which I had chosen to do up in Nottingham where NOVA trained. Tonight I’ll try it on our top Training Groups – not even competitive squads, but strong athletes all the same. It’ll be interesting to see by how I water it down during the course of the evening. At the Triangle, Burgess Hill.


Tumble on kick and tight streamlining + perfectly executed turns and transitions

Swim 4 x 50 FC T2 T3
as25m  FIST (Hands in fists drill)25m  CUP (Catch Up) @ 1.30 @ 100 / 1.15
Swim 3 x 50m BC @ 1.30 @ 1.00/1.15
High REC – stretch and reach with the shoulder
Kick 2 x 100m @ 2.15/2.30 @ 2.00/2.15
as 25 FC, 25 BC


Do you know you PB for 100m FC ? Hold Stroke Count  Inc: last 25m

T2 (?) T1
6 x 100m
@ on 2.00  PB + 15 @ on 1.30  PB + 15
1 x 200m IM
Slow FLY then Fast BC, BR & FC.
Last 25m FC to be same as last 25m on 100s
@ 4.00 @ 3.30
100m Easy BC 900m


T2 T1
4 x 100m
@ on 2.00  PB + 15 @ on 1.30  PB + 15
1 x 200m IM
Slow FLY then Fast BC, BR & FC.
@ 4.00 @ 3.30
100m Easy BC 700m


2 x 100m
@ on 2.00  PB + 15 @ on 1.30  PB + 15
1 x 200m IM
Slow FLY then Fast BC, BR & FC.
@ 4.00 @ 3.30
100m Easy BC 500m


T2 T1
2 x 50 FLY @ 3.00 @ 2.30
2 x 50 FLY Kick on back @ 2.00 @ 1.30
2 x 50 FC MAX



T1 550m + 2100m + 300m = 2950m (Probably pushing it by 600m)

T2 550m + 1200m + 300m = 2050m (May reduce the warm up to 400m)


The session worked well as a blueprint for our T2 and T3, though half the distance was covered. It was easier to adjust to suit the swimmers simply by reducing the number of repeats in the main set and/or increasing the rest interval. I even did a diluted version with five teenagers in our G8 teaching group.



NOVA Centurion 1 HOUR SESSION (8pm 25 NOV 08)

T1/T2 NOVA 1 HOUR SESSION         (8pm 25 NOV 08)

Swim 4 x 50 FC     @ 1.00/1.15
as     25m                FIST        (Hands in fists drill)
25m         CUP        (Catch Up)

Swim 3 x 50m BC     @ 1.00/1.15         High REC

Kick    2 x 100m     @ 2.00/2.15
as 25 FC, 25 BC

Tumble on kick & tight streamlining & perfectly executed turns & transitions



6 x 100m    @ on 1.30  PB + 15  Hold SC Inc: last 25m
1 x 200m IM    @ 3.30
Slow FLY
Fast BC, BR & FC.

Last 25m FC to be same as last 25m on 100s

100m     Easy     BC

2nd Repeat 4 x 100m

3rd Repeat 2 x 100m

900m + 700m + 500m = 2100m


2 x 50 FLY            @ 2.30
2 x 50 FLY Kick on back    @ 1.30
2 x 50 FC MAX


TOTAL  550m + 2100m + 300m = 2950m

The Coaching Philosophy of Bill Furniss

Fig. 1. Coach Bill Furniss taking a group of prospective ASA Level 3 coaches

The following notes were taken at a talk given by Swimming Coach Bill Furniss, Nova Centurion Head Coach and Coach to Olympians such as Rebecca Adlington.

This talk was part of the UKCC/ASA Senior Club Coach course.


Produced a great long list between us which Bill simplified to being performance driven. i.e. if you’re not improving competitive performance you are not coaching, you are teaching (or supervising).

‘Coaching is a process which involves a rational approach to the improvement of competitive performance through a planned and coordinated programme of preparing and competition.’  Bill Furniss

‘This process embraces both direct intervention strategies and the manipulation of contextual variable affecting player preparation and performance.’  Bill Furniss

e.g. A swimmer doing 20 x 100 reps on 65 dong them on 67 told to increase stroke count, reduce weight work and/or go faster over the last 15m

Only two people count; the coach and the athlete.

Some Essential skills:

  • Plan
  • Organise
  • Direct
  • Observe
  • Evaluate
  • Instruct
  • Communicate
  • Demonstrate
  • Share Knowledge
  • Strategies
  • Counselling
  • Motivator

Some Personality traits:

  • Having total belief
  • Being intuitive

(Realise why directing & coaching have so much in common, the targets of the coach working with athletes to produce a result like the targets the director has working with actors to produce a result).

‘Coaching is NOT a haphazard, trial and error affair, but involves a series of orderly, inter-related steps.’  Bill Furniss

‘The coaching process designates the steps the coach takes in determining, planning and implementing coaching action.’  Bill Furniss

The steps involved in the coaching process:

  • Data Collection
  • Diagnosis
  • Prescribed plan of action
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation
  • Adaptation
  • Overload
  • Progression
  • Specificity
  • Both short & long term

Where have all the boys gone?

They find it too structured and  methodical

It does n’t allow boys to be boys.

‘Swimming is becoming a girls’ sport.’  Bill Furniss

CF the US College System.

Coaching Philosophy

‘Your philosophy and style doesn’t matter … as long as it works and it works for you … and is appropriate for the context in which it will be applied.’  Bill Furniss

‘It is superhuman what we ask them to do – everything hurts, even their hair hurts.’ Bill Furniss

Ref: Coach: A Season with Lombardi. Tom Dowling. 1970.

The appropriateness of your philosophy to the context within which it will be applied.

Swimmers are starting to move around and leave coaches because they want a particular style.

‘This coaching lark is a bit more complex than you thought.’ Bill Furniss

Nova Session by Bill Furniss

T1/T2 NOVA 1 HOUR SESSION                         (8pm 25 NOV 08)


Swim 4 x 50 FC        @ 1.00/1.15

as       25m               FIST                 (Hands in fists drill)

25m                CUP               (Catch Up)


Swim 3 x 50m BC    @ 1.00/1.15               High REC


Kick    2 x 100m        @ 2.00/2.15

as 25 FC, 25 BC


Tumble on kick & tight streamlining & perfectly executed turns & transitions








6 x 100m        @ on 1.30  PB + 15  Hold SC Inc: last 25m

1 x 200m IM  @ 3.30

Slow FLY

Fast BC, BR & FC.


Last 25m FC to be same as last 25m on 100s


100m Easy   BC


2nd Repeat 4 x 100m


3rd Repeat 2 x 100m

900m + 700m + 500m = 2100m




2 x 50 FLY                             @ 2.30

2 x 50 FLY Kick on back     @ 1.30

2 x 50 FC MAX



TOTAL  550m + 2100m + 300m = 2950m


Senior Club Coach Course with Bill Furniss, Nova Centurion

Sunday 26th October 2008

Shot to pieces by a dreadful night and thrown by the clocks going back, even though this gave me an extra hour in bed, I still get to Nottingham late.

Only 5 mins but the swimmers were attacking the water and our group and divided in two with half taking a lane while the others assessed their coaching styles.

I apologised to Bill Furniss and joined my group trying to put this gaffe behind me.

We judged our fellow coaches harshly then had a go ourselves.

J & I took a lane of 15/16 years olds, introducing ourselves to Kyle, Eddie, Shannon & Gina.

They had a punishing set:

This is for swimmers achieving national qualifying times. Age 13 to15.


4 x 300 FC even pace HRT -30 on 4.00/4.00/

1 x 100 BC EZY

200 IM PB + 30

3 x 300 FC even pace HRT -30 on 4.00/

1 x 100 BC EZY

200 IM PB + 25

2 x 300 FC even pace HRT -30 on

1 x 100 BC EZY

200 IM PB + 20

1 x 300 FC even pace HRT -30 on

1 x 100 BC EZY

200 IM PB + 15

The objectives were to keep the heart rate up, to keep the pace even, and on the IM speed up so as to get within 15 of PB time.

Two coaches to three swimmers gave them too much attention, but talking it through with J we could divide the responsibilities so that I took stroke count and watched their turns.

My stopwatch wasn’t working so I couldn’t get stroke rate, a nuisance as it meant my having to count 25m at a time – It gave me the results though.

Sometimes I gave too much +ve encouragement instead of delivering the objective loosing the fact that I don’t want them to cool down or get too much rest. K wasn’t able to keep up and having spoken to him I pulled him out – he’s ill.

E’s pace was like a roller-coaster, anywhere between 19 & 22 and on his FC turn in particular gives no UW kick and his glide was short.

With the girls they had an even pace, but weren’t reaching their targets on heart rate or their times on the IM so we had to get them to up the pace.

We set them right on all of this, E going for maintaining a faster, steady pace, but only getting a reasonable dolphin kick out of his turn in the last IM while the girls, technically v.accurate, had to pick up the pace and succeeded in doing so. Two coaches to 1 lane, with only 3 in the lane! An extreme ratio but it showed the advantaged of having a few people more poolside.

Bill always has TWO stop watches running. He gives times & stroke rate and knows if a swimmers is on or off target and tells them how to correct this.

Nova Centurion Squad Session (Early season – October)

Nova Centurion Squad Session October 08 2 HRS

Just like you to an outsider the set on the white board is cryptic. But you use the same language.

Just like you there are clear periods within the programme of intensity or drilling, slowing right down and using snorkels and fins.

Bill operates with an A1 sized portable white board held together with duck tape which he props up somewhere poolside that is convenient for 4-6 lanes to see.

Self-regulation is key with a squad of adult athletes.

The set is given to them in three parts, sometimes four: Warm Up, Main Set (sometimes in 2 parts) and Swim Down.

Whilst Warm Ups are self-regulated, the coach will pick up on anyone who isn’t swimming as required – i.e. even pace when required to go for a low stroke count and a smooth swim. The main set is also self-regulated with Bill keeping an eye on everyone with two stop watches running on splits & stroke counts while he pays attention to ONE swimmer for the entire session.

This was a tolerance set, so not full on, as they are SEVEN weeks into this cycle.

Some will still not be anaerobically fit enough for something heavier.

The are given plenty of recovery time.

The trainee coaches … were advised that returning in TWO WEEKS time we would see that they will have adapted and the programme will be far, far more tough.

Observing a swimmer during the warm up achieving a stroke count between bursts of 21.8, or around 16 per 25m and impressed by his silent, smooth, controlled, fluid, easy, gentle, crafty & probing style I picked this lane to work with.

This lane was made up of three swimmers: Andy Mayor (200m Fly, Scottish International, Ex. Newcastle City), Sam Hynde (Paralympian) & Rachel George.

The parting note to his trainee coaches from Bill Furniss was ‘Application of Knowledge is crucial.’


500 FR

with 1 x 10m BURST each 100m

400 (4 x 25 IM Fins) Speed Rotate 25s

300 kick 25 Max 75 Easy

200 Fly – FR (25s) Acc 5 in FLY, May 5 out Turns FR

200 Loosen Choice

Having briefed the swimmers Bill Furniss then briefed his trainee coaches thus:

The things you will say in order to help your swimmers meet the objectives that have been set might be:

Try to reduce kick on 1st 50m

Try to increase kick on the 2nd 50m

Increase stroke rate on the last 25m/15m

Achieve your negative split


‘Don’t swim to destruction.’

i.e. swimmers have to control & trust their pace, turning the pace up or down as required so that they know exactly what they are doing and what they can achieve.


5 x 100 @ 1:40 FPP FR

2 x 150 ICS REC 2 3 MINS

4 x 100 FPP No. 1

2 x 150 All FR

3 x 100

2 x 150

2 x 100

2 x 150

1 x 100

2 x 150

All 100s are NEG SPLIT with +ve stroke rate for last 50/25m required.

Swimmers were told how to swim it and are advised that they will be picked up if they don’t achieve the negative split. This was our job.

Is anyone interested in the Stroke Rates achieved by these THREE swimmers???

On the first set of 5 x 100 this is what we got:

Andy Mayor’s stroke count drifted from 36.2, to 34 to 40.

Whilst increasingly his stroke rate Coach felt he could do more with his kick in the last 25m/15m. Coach later felt that Andy was still settling into his new club but would need to ‘tune in.’

Rachel did as required with a stroke rate picking up from 35, to 37 to 43 over the 100m with the kick coming in for the last 15m. Used to Bill she has done this kind of set many times before.

Sam is Paralympic medalist. He wasn’t please with himself, or me, to be advised that his stroke rate went from 54 to 42 to 52 … i.e He swims at S6 and has next to no kick, I’d liken it to swimming with a pull-bouy and a single foot in a fin.

On the second set of 4 x 100 we got this:

Coach training with Bill Furniss, Nova Centurion

Saturday 25th October 2008

After yesterday’s efforts today I make it to the pool in good time … in too good time, I’m there 30 mins early and try to catch up on lost sleep in the car. It is too cold, the rain to hard, the wind too strong even for the radio to drown out

Poolside we have the Nova Centurion A1 squad across all eight lanes of this 25m pool.

Bill Furniss talks to us during the warm up, we then take down the main set and go and deliver it.

I picked out the swimmer whose technique I most liked, a guy called Andy Mayor who was going up and down FC in 16 strokes.

He had in the lane with him the Paralympic swimmer Sam Hynde. I woked with M. We introduced ourselves then assisted them to meet the various targets on the set.

Level 3 Senior Club Coach. Unit 1 with Olympic and Nova Centurion Coach Bill Furniss

Friday 24th October 2008

Level 3 Senior Club Coach. Unit 1 with Olympic and Nova Centurion Coach Bill Furniss

Unit 1. The Senior Club Coach.

Arrive in ludicrously good time as I was uncertain of the route to Nottingham or how to find the university & specific lecture room. Just as well! I made the mistake of going through Nottingham during the rush hour, end up back on the ring road going south to the M1 so if I hadn’t given myself an hour or more to play with I would have been late.

Park next to a guy stepping out of soft top Black Porsche with the registration H20.

Trim, Mark Foster in his Fifties fit looking with grey hair. He had a bag with a projector in it so I guessed he was the guy. Half an hour later I meet Bill Furniss, the GB & Nova Centurion Swimming Coach who helped Rebecca Adlington to a couple of gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Colin Huffen introduced himself.

The voice on the phone didn’t marry with up the young, preppy, clean-cut tall young man who introduced himself. His excuse for my hearing back from the IoS about the course work I submitted in June is that they have 250 in the Coaching Programme but had planned for only 100. So they’ve taken on more than they can manage. They’ve had £25,000 in registration fees alone so they ought to have a administrator at least. Colin trained under Bill.

Immediately felt I was with the right person.

Bill. Early 50s. Athletic. Looks good in a T-shirt & shorts & drives a black soft top Porsche.

Like anybody I am inspired by and inclined to listen with a more attentive ear to somebody at the top of their game, someone with 28 years experience, who proves his ability with athletes in the pool and has gone through all the academic hoops:

Coach, Club Coach, Level 4 & Level 5 … as well as picking up a Sports Science Degree from the Open University on the way.

He was a competitive swimmer in his day (200m Fly), and for a period was a successful salesman (he says) before getting into coaching. He was an assistant coach for a mere 4 months and has been with Nova in Nottingham for 28 years. A County Council funded role which has enabled him to produce 300 internationals over 20 years and 10 Olympians. 13 of the 24 in A Squad are internationals.

“Knowledge is nothing if you can’t apply it.”

“It sticks a lot better if you do it.”

“I’m a Devil’s Advocate. You will knock it around.”

“I need you to make the connection.”

Which can mean they have no plan and from past experience could mean long breaks and a good deal of waffle, or simply reading from the manual. BF was quite the opposite, he is in command of the subject, talk in detail without notes and has the authority to question what the ASA is putting out.

“If I think there’s nothing more to learn I’ll give up and become a milkman.”

The Group

A A mum whose son swims. Leicester County Development Coach  & Occupational Paediatrics. Coaching 8 years.

J Northampton SC Took over from Mark Perry Admits to being pushy and finds it hard to resist palling up to BF and plugging  her brilliance.

M An Ex-Swimmer and Coach from Birmingham. Early or mid twenties and got himself digs in a Nottingham Uni Hall of Residence. Jackie wants him to join Northampton SC as an assistant Coach on £18k.

A Level 1 in 1998. A parent. Coaching 6 months at City of Coventry. Formerly Int. Trampolening & diving.  A Qualified Teacher.

M A milkman from & an assistant coach and ex-footballer. Parent, committee, chairman, poolside helper & assistant coach. Taking time out of work, i.e. holiday,  to do this. Usually gets up at 2.30am. Hopes to quit his milkman job in April 2009.

A group of parent poolside helpers, teachers and wannabe coaches. A few have it, several don’t. Some have the personality, several don’t.

J Hoddoston SC. (As Michael I think). 15 National Swimmers, I think. Ex. County Swimmer herself. Secretary & conference Organiser. 2004 Club Coach & Diving Level I. Has a sports study degree.

T Glossop. Coaching 10 hours week. Rugby Player. Til          daughter born. Teaching/coaching rugby.

J Lives & breathes swimming. Father was terrified of water. (Dropped in the deep end as a child). Raised in Swansea where she swam competitively to age 13. Dropped it for 10 years +. Now back with a vengeance as a volunteer with a local development squad.

H Retired bloke with an IQ of 90 who looks like he used to smoke, lives in a mobile home & will soon need a zimmer frame & a hearing horn.

As a set up this bunch of characters reminds me of the Vicar of Dibley. Just as we rarely see the Vicar with her congregation, we rarely need to see the coaches/teachers poolside with kids.

Joined by Olympian Mel Marshall who is thinking of becoming a coach.

She is part of the programme ‘Athletes into Coaching’.

Initiative directed at young athletes coming out of their sport orientated to what they’ve just done and will be doing with a mind set to suit them rather than the oddballs from the amateur/volunteer club based circuit).