The Christmas break for interscholastic swimmers affords an opportunity for both greater intensity and yardage in workouts as teams, in some cases, have increased pool time. And, coaches often add creativity to their workouts by structuring a special New Year’s Day training set or a culminating exercise to end 2010’s training cycle.

In Hampden, coach Jason Snyder challenges his swimmers with 100s.

“We end our Christmas camp with 60 100s. We start at 2 minutes as an interval and drop the interval by 5 seconds after every five 100s,” Snyder said. “We will go as low as 1:20 or 1.30 for some of our swimmers. When we hit bottom then we start back up. Then, the countdown to 60 starts. The kids get excited. It is a set which builds team spirit.”

Meanwhile, David Ploch in 1983-84, his first season at Old Town, introduced 100 100s as the challenge. This year, Ploch, who coached Old Town so successfully from 1983 to 1997 before stepping out of coaching until 2006 when he returned to Old Town swimming, will offer the challenge on the last practice of 2010. Swimmers select their interval and stroke and in some instances mix strokes.

Sensitive to the various fitness and developmental levels of the swimmers, Ploch has introduced 50 50s for those swimmers whose maturity in the water is best served with 50s.

In years past, Ploch explained he would have swimmers complete the 100 100s without a break in the set. Now, Ploch establishes set breaks for hydration.

“We are fortunate in Old Town to have the pool available to us for this block of time. We are grateful to the taxpayers for keeping the pool open,” the Maine Hall of Fame coach commented.

For Orono, coach Gary Theriault adjusts his training regiment since Orono’ s training facility, the University of Maine pool, is closed on New Year’s Day. Nevertheless, the veteran coach this year has set a high standard for training.

“In my 33 years of coaching, this year we are holding the most demanding practices ever. This year’s team has the best work ethic I have seen in years,” he said.

“We are putting our heads down and working,” explained Mount Desert’s Tony DeMuro when asked about the Trojans’ New Year’s Day training. “We have no holiday special training tradition,” he continued. “ In past years, we have included water polo on New Year’s Day or trained with relays. I include a lot of fly in practice so I have been known to end practice with a fly set or reverse IMs.”

This year, according to Bangor girls swim coach Cindy Howard, Bangor’s teams (male/female) will conclude their Christmas training with a set known as “Circle 60s,” essentially a quality set of 100s where swimmers are expected to finish each 100 within 5 seconds of their best time.

Howard and the coaching staff explain the purpose and training theories of quality swimming before having the swimmers embark on the set. This year, if a swimmer falls outside the 5-second margin, the set has concluded for the swimmer and the remainder of the training-set time targets dry land routines of flexibility and strength.

As DeMuro noted, the interscholastic training cycle enters a period of the season around New Year’s where “we must swim fast.”

Swimming notebook

— Former Hurricane Swim Club swimmer Lindsey Snyder, who holds two school records at Central Connecticut University, is an assistant coach with the Elite Ray Swim Club in Virginia, associated with USA Swimming. Snyder, whose father coaches Hampden Academy swimming, recently visited a Bronco practice as did former Georgetown University coach and Hurricane Swim Club racer Steven Cartwright.

— Two colleges announced the addition of varsity swimming and diving. Greensboro College in North Carolina will add men’s swimming while Oklahoma Baptist University will add both men’s and women’s swimming.

— Bangor frosh Emma Waddel is ranked first in two events, the 100 butterfly (1:00.5) and the 500 freestyle (5:23.4), according to the composite rankings of interscholastic racing compiled by Maine Principals’ Association statistician Ritchie Palmer. Interestingly, following the Morse Invitational earlier this week held at the Bath YMCA where swimmers from some of Maine’s fastest teams raced, the post meet chatter noted the performance of the Greely High 400 free relay girls team with a sizzling 3:44 finish.