Saturday Swim Session: Kick, Pull & Swim, What Duncan Laing Taught Me

Duncan Laing is arguably New Zealand’s most successful swim coach. I had the privilege of swimming under him in the mid-’90s, as part of his triathlon squad. One of his favourite sets was KPS or Kick, Pull Swim. This session is focused on that and is perfect for Ironman and Olympic distance triathletes as well as people doing longer ocean swims.

Tri Swim Training

Each Saturday I will post a Swim Session, most weeks I will load three options up for you to do. Option A is for swimmers who are after a workout between 1,000 & 2,000 metres. Option B is for swimmers who are after a workout between 2,000 & 3,000m and Option C will be greater than 3,000m.

Option A

  • 200m WU;
  • 6x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 6x 150m KPS 20sec RI;
  • 6x 50m ½ T-Time +5sec RI;
  • 200m CD (1,900m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 6x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 150m KPS 20sec RI;
  • 8x 50m ½ T-Time +5sec RI;
  • 200m CD (2,500m)

Option C

  • 800m WU;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 10x 150m KPS 20sec RI;
  • 8x 50m ½ T-Time +5sec RI;
  • 200m CD (3,500m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A), 400m (Option B), or 800m (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 drill set of six (Options A and B) or twelve repetitions (Option C) of 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 to make twelve reps (Option c), or once through for Options A and B:

  1. Kick On Side (KOS) left side 
  2. Kick On Side (KOS) right side 
  3. 6/1/6 
  4. 6/3/6
  5. Popov
  6. Broken Arrow

I wrote an article about swimming drills previously. Click here to read and watch it.

The main set is made up of six (Option A), eight (Option B), or ten (Option C) repetitions of 150m of KPS. The distance of 150m is easily split into three, the first third is done kicking, the middle third is pulled,ed and the final third is regular swimming. You can utilise a kickboard for the kick portion, but I’d recommend kicking on either your side or front as demonstrated in the following videos. Once you’ve finished the kick portion, grab a pull buoy for the next 50m to put the focus on your upper body, and then finish with regular swimming for the final 50m. After each rep take a 20-second Rest Interval (RI).

After the KPS set, move on to a set of six (Option A)  or eight (Options B and C) repetitions of 50m. These swim with a rest based on your T-Time. Each rep is started on half your T-Time plus five seconds.

How much rest you get is determined by how qwikly you swim each rep and what your capability is. Use the T-Time that you have determined previously (follow the link here to find out more).  This is how frequently you do each rep. If your T-Time is 2:10, you will start each rep every 1:10 ((½ x 2:10) + 0:05). If you manage to swim your 50m in 0:55 you will get 15 seconds of rest, and if you swim it in 1:10 you will only get 5 seconds rest. This keeps the pressure on and you working hard to maintain your efforts.

For the Cool Down (CD) swim 200m. Unlike the previous sets which have to be freestyle, the cooldown (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 Coaching.

I specialise in assisting first-timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at and 021 348 729.

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

Saturday Swim Session: 50m IM

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