View Full Version : IM workouts: pure IM or stroke focus

February 10th, 2015, 08:48 AM
For those of you that do IM, do you focus on doing IM only in your main sets or do you focus on one or two strokes each time? I have recently started swimming the IM and love it but want to get much faster. I know my backstroke and breaststroke are slowing me down. I am not sure if I should focus on those once a week or something or just keep swimming IMs since that is what I want to race.

February 10th, 2015, 07:00 PM
Short answer - do both.

Slightly longer answer - the axis-switching nature of the stroke changes, at least for me, means it is important to do a lot of IM training if I want to swim fast in IM races. For example, if I do a 200 breaststroke in a workout, my third 50 will almost always feel "smoother" and better than if I was to do a 200 IM. So, I tend to do more IM work that straight stroke work.


Beyond a 25 and maybe a 50 of fly in a workout, my stroke falls apart, so I rarely train fly repeats in workout at longer distances than that except when I do a 400 IM. So, I rarely train much fly at distance.
On the other end of the spectrum, I will do many freestyle repeats at longer distances ... for no other reason than I can do them.

February 12th, 2015, 09:32 PM
Thanks. I have thrown in some extra free at the end sometimes just to try and work on my aerobic conditioning as well so that makes sense.

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February 12th, 2015, 11:40 PM
Since you identified two strokes that need a lot of improvement, I would recommend doing strokework on your back and br. You won't swim your best IM until you are comfortable with your skill level in all strokes.

I was in a similar boat -- I love 100 IM, but my backstroke has never been good. To work on both my stroke and IM at the same time, every practice after warming up, I would do a broken 200 of each stroke. Drills and kicks and some full stroke. Then I would do some sort of speed set, which many days included IMs, or a slow and easy 800 IM where I just worked to hold each stroke together.

My backstroke improved greatly to where now my slowest length is usually breast, which I am supposedly good at. This helped me go from struggling to break 1:10 to swimming a pretty consistent 1:07 for a while. Not blazing fast, but better than I ever expected.

February 13th, 2015, 07:26 AM
Training for the IM is a complex process since you have to juggle all 4 strokes. You'll want to avoid any possibility of injuries by ensuring that you have an excellent technique in each of the strokes - I would suggest consulting a qualified stroke coach to ensure that you have a balance of technique and strength-building in your training.

Excelling in the IM requires a great deal of variety in your workouts. You should not train only using IM sets nor should you train in one or two specific strokes. A good way to maintain an appropriate variety in your training is to combine several strokes into your sets: breaststroke pull with freestyle or dolphin kick, for example, or sets of kick and drills in IM order, or even reverse-order fullstroke IMs. This will allow you to ensure a balance between technique and interval work and between the strokes themselves.

It is great to hear that you are interested in improving your IM times. Best of luck with your training!

February 13th, 2015, 05:11 PM
Thanks for the insight. It's nice to have another educated opinion (especially since my opinion isn't educated in this area).

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March 4th, 2015, 12:13 PM
Sry for the question but what IM stands for ?

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March 4th, 2015, 02:25 PM
I mix it up and train IM and strokes. I really focus on my weakest. I also make sure I practice transitions as well.

March 4th, 2015, 02:27 PM
Sry for the question but what IM stands for ?

IM is individual medley, in other words races in which all four competitive strokes are swum.

March 4th, 2015, 03:04 PM
Sry for the question but what IM stands for ?

In the context of this thread, IM = Individual Medley. A race where people swim butterfly, then backstroke, then breaststroke, then freestyle. Or alternatively, swimming the strokes in that order in training. An Individual Medley can be 100 yards/meters (25y/m of each stroke), 200y/m (50y/m of each stroke) or 400y/m (100y/m of each stroke). People sometimes swim Medleys longer than 400m because they can, but they're not recognized events by FINA (international governing body of swimming)

Irrelevant to this thread: IM can also mean Ironman triathlon - a 2.4 mile open water swim, followed by a 112 mile cycle, followed by a full marathon (26.2 miles), in under 17 hours.

March 5th, 2015, 02:31 AM
Knelson and determinedtri , can't thank you enough , now I can understand what I read .

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March 6th, 2015, 07:49 AM
The 400 and/or 200 IM are among my focus races at most bigger meets I attend. I very rarely do complete 200 reps in training, and never 400s, except for tests. I both train each stroke separately, and do what I call 'IM fractions', to practice the transitional turns and the muscular/nevrological challenge of switching strokes. Early in the season, I do sets like 4-8x200 IM, but that's more for general conditioning than specific IM training.

Even though the legs of each stroke are equal in distance, they all have their own nature because of their place in the race. Fly is the opener; you need easy speed and good technique. Back and breast are the workhorses, at least in the 400; you need endurance in addition to speed. Free is the finish, you need sprinting abilities, a finishing speed.

So when I train the strokes separately to train for the 400 IM, I train as I would for the 100 fly; the 200 back; the 200 breast and the 100 free, with elements of 200 free training.
The IM fractions can be for instance:
4-8x150, as 25 fly/50 back/50 breast/25 free.
4-8x150, as 50 fly/100 back, or 100 breast/50 free. Can also be done as 75s, same principle
4-8x250, as 50 fly/100 back/100 breast, or 100 back/100 breast/50 free. Can also be done as 125s, same principle

For the 200 IM, I like to do 50s
12x50 as 25 fly/25back, or as 25 back/25 breast, or 25 breast/25 free. I usually do just one combo in any one training session.

Both for training and for the ‘feel’ of the race, it makes sense to me to consider the 100 IM as a 50; the 200 IM as a 100, and the 400 IM as a 200. Your training for the 200 breast is very useful for the 400 IM, but for the 200 IM you need more ‘attack’ or ‘snap’. Or simply power and speed.

IM events and IM training is great fun and formidable exercise! Good luck!