Saturday Swim Session: Individual Medley Set to Improve Your Triathlon

Individual Medley (IM) sets are often ignored and/or under utilised by triathletes, but they provide some truly great benefits to both recreational and competitive triathletes. They develop your ‘feel for the water‘  and enhance your ability to catch hold of the water enhancing your freestyle technique.

Each week I will load three options up for you to do. Option A is for swimmers who are after a workout less than 2,000 metres. Option B is for swimmers who are after a workout between 2,000 and 3,000m and Option C will be greater than 3,000m.

Option A

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 6x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 4x 50m IM 20sec RI;
  • 8x 25m F/S 10sec RI;
  • 4x 50m IM 20sec RI;
  • 8x 25m F/S 10sec RI;
  • 200m Cool Down (1,700m)

Option B

  • 600m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 4x 50m IM 20sec RI;
  • 8x 25m F/S on 10sec RI;
  • 4x 50m IM 20sec RI;
  • 8x 25m F/S on 10sec RI;
  • 4x 50m IM 20sec RI;
  • 8x 25m F/S on 10sec RI;
  • 200m Cool Down (2,400m)

Option C

  • 1,000m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 50m IM 20sec RI;
  • 12x 25m F/S on 10sec RI;
  • 8x 50m IM 20sec RI;
  • 12x 25m F/S on 10sec RI;
  • 200m Cool Down (3,200m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up covering 400m (Option A), 600m (Option B) or 1,000m (Option C). During the warm up feel free to stop and stretch as needed. It doesn’t need to be a continuous swim.

Next up is a set of six (Option A) or eight (Option B or C) reps 50m Drill/Swim, where you do a drill for the first 25m of the repetition and then normal swimming for the next 25m swimming. Feel free to use fins whilst doing the drill/swim set. Do the drills below twice through for Option B and C to complete a total of eight reps; and for Option A do them one time through and repeat the Kick On Side for a total of six reps:

  1. Kick On Side (left side)
  2. Kick On Side (right side)
  3. 6/1/6
  4. 6/3/6

Take your fins off for the next set.

The next set involves swimming an Individual Medley (IM) set. Individual Medley usually involves swimming a rep that is at least four lengths long where you swim each length a different stroke prior to taking a rest. As the distance of each rep involved in this set are less than four lengths long, you will swim each competitive swimming stroke for 50m prior to taking a Rest Interval of 20 seconds. The order of swimming is Butterfly (B/F), Back Stroke (Bk), Breast Stoke (Br) and Freestyle (F/S). Swim four reps for Option A and B and eight reps for Option C. I realise that you might not be able to swim some of the other strokes perfectly, but I want you to try to do them each and every time. Even if you only manage to attempt a few strokes before having to revert to freestyle for the remainder of the length, you will still start to get better. Besides, that is what this whole process of training is about, self improvement.

Next up is a sprint set of Freestyle (F/S). Complete eight reps (Option A and B) or twelve reps (Option C) of 25m taking a ten second Rest Interval after each rep.

Then repeat both the Individual Medley and then the sprint set again. Option B continues on and does a third round through.

Then it’s time for a 200m Cool Down (CD). Unlike the previous sets which have to be freestyle, the cool down (like the warm up) can be any stroke you wish to swim.  You can also stop and rest after any length.  I encourage you to stop and stretch during the cool down.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact me.

I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at coachray@coachray.nz and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to my informative newsletter.

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If you enjoyed this workout, here is a similar session I published 12 months ago.

Saturday Swim Session: T-Times

Coach Ray is the author of the successful 12 Weeks to an Ironman Swim PB – Swim Faster with Smart Training eBook.

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