Tri Swim Coach

Saturday Swim Session: Using Individual Medley Strokes to Improve Your Feel For The Water

Swimming strokes other than just freestyle can benefit your feel for the water and develop your efficiency as a result. This session is perfect for Ironman and Olympic distance triathletes or people doing longer ocean swims.

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.

I’ve written these sessions for a 33⅓ metre pool, but a lot of the older style pools are 33⅓ yards long (100 feet), so simply interchange the metres for yards and do the session.

Option A

  • 200m WU;
  • 4x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 8x 33m IM 20sec RI;
  • 8x 33m F/S 10sec RI;
  • 8x 33m IM 20sec RI;
  • 4x 33m F/S 10sec RI;
  • 200m CD (1,600m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 8x 67m IM 20sec RI;
  • 8x 33m F/S 10sec RI;
  • 4x 67m IM 20sec RI;
  • 6x 33m F/S 10sec RI;
  • 200m CD (2,400m)

Option C

  • 1,000m WU;
  • 8x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 8x 67m IM 20sec RI;
  • 8x 33m F/S 10sec RI;
  • 8x 67m IM 20sec RI;
  • 8x 33m F/S 10sec RI;
  • 200m CD (3,333m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A), 400m (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 drill set. There are four (Option A) or eight (Options B and C) repetitions of 67m Drill/Swim, where you do a drill for the first 33m of the repetition and then normal swimming for the next 33m swimming. Feel free to use fins whilst doing the drill/swim set.  Do the drills below twice through for Options B and C and only once through for Option A:

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

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

Take the fins off prior to the next set.

Following the drills is a set of eight repetitions of 33m (Option A) or 67m (Options B and C). These are done in Individual Medley (IM) order, starting with butterfly, then backstroke, breaststroke finishing with the fourth (and eighth) rep being freestyle. Take a 20-second Rest Interval (RI) after each rep.

The next set is made up of eight reps of 33m swimming freestyle with a ten-second Rest Interval (RI) between reps.

Next up is an Individual Medley (IM) set. Option A has eight reps of 33m; Option B has four reps of 67m, and Option C has eight reps of 67m. Once again you complete the reps in Individual Medley (IM) order, with a 20-second Rest Interval (RI) between reps.

The final set prior to the Cool Down (CD) is a set of four (Option A), six (Option B), or eight (Option C) reps of 33m with a ten-second Rest Interval (RI) between reps.

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.

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