The 200 individual medley is a test of speed, endurance and mastery of all four competitive strokes. It’s a tough race to be good at, but with the right training you can swim a faster 200 IM!

Check out our six most effective tips for IM training, plus an IM workout that’s sure to challenge you!

1. Perform a Self-Evaluation

Before you dive into your IM training, take a look at where you’re at now, and identify areas to improve.

  1. Strokes: Look at your strengths and weaknesses in all four strokes, and make a plan to improve your weaknesses.
  2. Technique: Can your stroke technique be improved? What about streamlines, pull-outs, turns and starts?
  3. Training: How’s your endurance? What about your speed? Is your training addressing what needs to be improved here?
  4. Energy Management: Do you effectively pace your 200 IM on race day? Or do you go out too fast and burn out by the time breaststroke comes around?

Let’s break down Ryan Lochte and Katinka Hosszú’s long course 200 IM world records, so you can learn how to compare and analyze your own performance.

Related: What is the Individual Medley? 

Looking at splits as a percentage of the total race, you can see that both Ryan and Katinka’s performances are almost identical. You can tell that they are both good backstrokers, and that their breaststroke is their weakest stroke, because it makes up the largest percentage of their total race time.

Ryan Lochte (1:54.00)

  • Fly: 24.89 (21.8%)
  • Back: 28.59 (25.1%)
  • Breast: 33.03 (29.0%)
  • Free: 27.49 (24.1%)

Katinka Hosszú (2:06.12)

  • Fly: 27.30 (21.6%)
  • Back: 31.64 (25.1%)
  • Breast: 36.70 (29.1%)
  • Free: 30.48 (24.1%)

Now let’s look at an example from Bob, a recreational swimmer:

Bob (2:38)

  • Fly: 33.0 (20.9%)
  • Back: 44.5 (28.2%)
  • Breast: 44.0 (27.8%)
  • Free 36.5 (23.1%)

Based on his splits and compared to the world records, we can tell that Bob’s swim is a bit out of proportion. He’s going out too fast on the first 50, which causes him to swim slower in the backstroke leg. He probably needs to work on his backstroke!

It also looks like Bob is probably a strong breaststroker. And his freestyle is strong, so he likely has good endurance. 

Now it’s your turn! Pull the splits from your latest 200 IM race, or swim a 200 IM in practice and get your splits so you can do your own analysis.

2. Become a Stroke & Sprint Specialist

To be good at the 200 IM, you should strive to master the 100 of each stroke. Work on speed and endurance for each 100, and you’ll build the right foundation for the 200 IM. 

Related: How to Swim Butterfly with Perfect Technique

That’s easier said than done, of course, but with time you can improve your 100 times, and the 200 IM will start to feel easier.

The same concept applies to the 400 IM: Swimmers need to be good at the 200 of each stroke to be successful at the 400 IM.

3. Train All The Strokes

If you want to be good at IM, you should incorporate some sort of IM training every day. But that doesn’t mean you should go all-out with the IM work at every swim! 

Some days, you might focus on your strengths in the 200 IM and other days, you will focus on your weakness. 

Related: Why You Need to Swim All 4 Strokes Every Workout

In our example above, Bob’s weakness-focused session will center on improving his backstroke and pacing his first 50.

You need to be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone. If you only swim the way you’re comfortable and neglect your weaknesses, you’ll never reach your full potential.

For some inspiration, read to the end of this article for a sample IM swim workout!

4. Become a Student of the Sport

If you’re really committed to being a better swimmer, it’s important to take a holistic approach to your training. It’s easy to go to the pool and swim hundreds of laps, but there’s more to it than that. 

Courtesy of ISL

Watch and learn from the best swimmers of all disciplines to improve your 200 IM:

  • Fast IMers who swim the 100, 200 and 400 IM
  • Distance swimmers
  • Sprinters
  • Stroke specialists who swim the 100 or 200 of their stroke

Go out of your way to explore different training approaches and spend time analyzing your own technique to identify where to get better. This is what separates good swimmers from great swimmers!

5. Do Math

It can be helpful to do some simple math to calculate what your ideal performance could be in a 200 IM. 

Play around with different target splits to see what’s possible for you. Let’s look back at Bob’s 200 IM:

Bob (2:38)

  • Fly: 33.0
  • Back: 44.5
  • Breast: 44.0
  • Free 36.5

Let’s say Bob decides to go all-in on improving his backstroke, and drops his 44.5 split down to a 41.0. He is able to rein in his first 50, so he doesn’t go out as fast, which adds some time, but his faster backstroke makes up for it. Here’s his new time: 

Bob (2:35)

  • Fly: 33.5
  • Back: 41.0
  • Breast: 44.0
  • Free 36.5

Calculate the possibilities for your own times, and see what you can do!

6. Follow a Plan 

If you don’t have a swim training plan, you’re kind of just swimming in circles. You might get a little faster, but the key to doing well in any race, not just the 200 IM, is to follow a plan that helps you progress toward a specific goal. 

In the MySwimPro app, you’ll find two IM-specific plans: The Get Fit IM plan, which is designed to help you master the 200 IM, and the IMX Pro Challenge plan, which works you up to racing a 400 IM. You’ll work on technique, speed and endurance for all four strokes, and challenge your weaknesses with customized workouts. 

Try This Swim Workout: 200 IM Special

Ready to start training for the 200 IM? Give this workout a try. Push yourself with a mix of IM and stroke work in the main set, and finish up with a short but brutal test set. Find this workout in the MySwimPro app!

  • Distance: 4,000 meters/yards
  • Duration: 80 minutes


  • 1 x 300 Free @ 5:00
  • 6 x 50 Kick @ 1:00
  • 4 x 50 IM Order Drill @ :55

Main Set (3x)

  • 4 x IM @ 1:30
  • 4 x 50 Stroke @ 1:00 (1 stroke per round: Fly/Back/Breast)
  • 1 x 300 Pull with Paddles @ 4:00

Test Set*

4 x 50 IM Order @ 1:00

*Think of this as a broken 200 IM!

Cool Down

3 x 100s Free @ 1:40

Commit to consistent IM training and we’re confident that you’ll start seeing results. Let us know how you train for the 200 IM in the comments! 

To start your personalized training plan, download the MySwimPro app on iPhone or Android!

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