To swim a great IM, you need to have more than endurance and technically sound strokes. You need the ability to transition quickly from one stroke to another. That means fast transition turns, of course, but it also means getting into the cadence or rhythm or "groove" of the next stroke as quickly as possible. Here’s a Tempo Trainer IM set that will get you up and going – especially on backstroke and freestyle.
In the IM, most swimmers are a little tired after the butterfly leg. The tendency is to use the first few strokes of backstroke to coast and recover. This set won’t allow you to do that. In this set, when you breakout into backstroke, you have to get your arms going IMMEDIATELY to keep up with the BEEP of the Tempo Trainer. You have to find your race-pace backstroke cadence right away. The same goes for the breast-to-free transition. After the breakout, you need to find your freestyle rhythm IMMEDIATELY and maintain it into the finish.
This set lends itself to all kinds of variation. Use the following version as a base, and then use your imagination.
12 X 100 IM on an interval that gives you 35 to 40 seconds rest
Wear fins for all 12, and there are no breaks in the set.
Put the Tempo Trainer in Mode 1 and set it to a cadence that would be nice and long and comfortable for a cycle of breaststroke, but reasonably quick for one CYCLE of freestyle. For example, I chose an initial TT setting of 2:00 (2 seconds). This is an easy cadence for a cycle of breaststroke, but it’s reasonably quick (for me, at least) for a cycle of freestyle. Remember: For freestyle, a cadence of 2 seconds per CYCLE equals a cadence of 1 second per STROKE.
On fly and breast, swim one stroke cycle to every BEEP of the Tempo Trainer.
On back and free, swim one stroke CYCLE (not one stroke) to every BEEP of the TT.
#1 through #4: Tempo Trainer set at 2:00
#5 through #8: Tempo Trainer set at 1:90
#9 through #12: Tempo Trainer set at 1:80
200 EZ recovery, then take off the fins and do 4 X 100 IM, choosing the TT setting that felt best from the first 12 X 100.
1. Swim this set as 200s.
2. Do sets of 3 X 100 or 2 X 100 instead of 4 X 100.
3. Skip the fins.
4. Decrease the cadence rate instead of increase it.
5. Use a sendoff that gives you more rest as the cadence gets faster.
6. Take the set to failure, i.e., add more sets of 4 X 100, cranking up the cadence until you can no longer keep up with the BEEPs.