Tri Swim Coach

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.

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);
  • 4x 200m KPS 20sec RI;
  • 4x 67m 2/3 T-Time +5sec RI;
  • 200m CD (1,733m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 4x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 5x 200m KPS 20sec RI;
  • 6x 67m 2/3 T-Time +5sec RI;
  • 200m CD (2,267m)

Option C

  • 800m WU;
  • 10x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 7x 200m KPS 20sec RI;
  • 6x 67m 2/3 T-Time +5sec RI;
  • 200m CD; (3,467m)

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 four (Options A and B) or ten repetitions (Option C) 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 once through for Options A and B, and twice through before repeating the Kick On Side drills a third time each side for Option C:

  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.

The main set is made up of four (Option A), five (Option B), or seven (Option C) repetitions of 200m of KPS. The distance of 200m is easily split into three (in a 33⅓ pool – if you are in a 25m or 50m pool I suggest you do this session:, the first third is done kicking, the middle third as pull and the final third 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 two-thirds of 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 2:00, you will start each rep every 1:25 ((2/3 x 2:00) + 0:05). If you manage to swim your 67m in 1:10 you will get 15 seconds of rest, and if you swim it in 1:20 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.

I’ve taken my most popular training plan and given it a make-over for 2020. I’ve taken the 12 Weeks to an Ironman Swim PB – Swim Faster with Smarter Training and I’ve modified to expand the programme from 12 weeks and include an option for more than 3 swims per week.

Now the programme has created some great times for athletes competing at Ironman events around the world, but it was overly set in stone. Now if you have got between 8 & 24 weeks to an Ironman and are consistently swimming 3x, 4x, or 5x per week, I’ve created an option for you. This is regardless of the length of the pool 25m, 33⅓yd, or 50m pool.

This programme is peroidised and builds throughout as you get closer to your Ironman. It works through four key phases:

  • Foundation & Injury Prevention Phase (building your base fitness and developing technique)
  • Early Quality Phase (develop strength and continue developing technique)
  • Transition Quality Phase (focus on threshold pace and maintain technique)
  • Final Quality Phase (further develop your speed and maintain technique and taper off for the event)

Although the original 12-week programme is proven and gets RESULTS. This modified version is unproven. I know it will get the results, but I need the proof. I need a dozen people to complete the programme, so I can measure how much improvement the programme actually delivers.

If you are entered in an Ironman, Iron-distance event, or an Ocean Swim/Open Water event and have between 8 and 24 weeks to train for it, you might be a good fit to try this training plan out. Not everyone will be a good fit for this programme.

This training plan is for people that are keen to swim faster in their Ironman (or other events). You need to be committed to completing a minimum of three swim workouts every week. You need to be meticulous with tracking your training.

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