How to swim the 200 free

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

This was an effort to help some of our swimmers “figure out” the 200 free.  We followed up with a set specifically designed to practice for this event.  That set will come in a later post.

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How to swim the 200 free

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Find Your Sweet Spot

Ryan Woodruff

This set was adapted from‘s Ramp Test

The Sweet Spot Test Set

Using a Tempo Trainer
12 x 50 LCM @ 1:20
Begin at a tempo you know you can hold (if you are doing freestyle, try something between 1.50 and 1.80). Hold that tempo as precisely as possible for the entire 50m. Have a friend or a coach count your cycles and record that info using this worksheet. On each subsequent 50, lower your tempo by .10 until you reach a tempo that you are unable to hold. After that failure point, take your tempo back up to near where it started, and bring it down again. Also make note of your effort level on a scale of 1-10.

At the completion of the set, you should have a range of tempos, cycle counts, efforts, and times. Look for effort levels in the 8 or 9 range. If you are in shape, these should roughly approximate 200 pace. The range of data that you find will be your “Sweet Spot.” Train in and around this sweet spot as often as possible to improve your ability to sustain this pace or even to improve upon it.

Long Course Speed Test

Ryan Woodruff

To test your speed for long course swimming, do some 35m sprints off the blocks regularly. Using the Goal Pace Spreadsheet for LCM, determine the swimmer’s race-pace time to 35m for the 100m distance of each stroke. The 35m mark should be easy to spot (same as the 15m mark from the turn end). Time to the swimmer’s head crossing the line. 35m is a manageable distance for most swimmers to hold their 100m race pace in training. Strive to swim at your race pace as often as possible, and check your speed regularly with these 35m sprints!

Are You Training Fast Enough?

Coach Ryan Woodruff

How fast are you planning to be this season? Are you swimming at race pace in practice? Check out our race pace cards that can be easily individualized to each swimmer.
Here are the instructions once you have the sheet open in Excel:
1. Type the swimmer’s name where it says ‘Name here.’
2. Enter a swimmer’s goal time in the C column. Do not use any punctuation. For instance, for a goal time of 24.99 in the 50 free, type 2499. For a 2:28.50 in the 200 breast, type 22850.
3. The sheet should automatically compute pace times for you. ‘Pace’ means the swim is from a push. ‘Start’ means the swimmers goes off the blocks (or from a start for backstroke). The sheet computes different pace values for different events based on what I deemed the most useful information. For instance, a 15m start time is of little consequence in the mile, but could come in handy in the 100 fly.
4. Print out the pace card and take it to practice!

A few other notes:

* The sheet is based on the assumption that a swimmer will swim an even pace for every length after the 1st 25 (50 for LCM). For freestyle, the difference between the 1st and 2nd 25 is 1.7. For fly, the difference is 2.0, for backstroke the difference is 1.0, and for breaststroke it is 2.5 seconds.
* The C column is cross-hatched and the goal time is in gray in order to keep the swimmer’s focus on the race pace rather than her goal time.

Enjoy – let me know how it goes!

Click here or on the top menu to go to our “Tools for Coaches” page to see other useful tools

The Chunker

Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club

18 x 15 meter sprint @ 2:00

#1 – from a start
#2 – 7.5m in and out of a turn
#3 – from mid-pool into a finish

All start and turn sprints are timed to the head crossing the line. Swim easy between the repeats. Use this chart to see how fast your 15m “chunks” need to be based on your best time.

Underwater Kicking Test Set

Ryan Woodruff
Lynchburg YMCA

Here is the set that I used to define the underwater kicking speeds in The Swimming Calculator:

10x through @ 3:00 per round:
12.5 Fast UW kick/ 12.5 ez kick – Timed to the tenth of a second to the athlete’s head crossing the line.
75 – 25 kick/25 drill/25 swim

Do 3 rounds dolphin kick face down, 3 rounds dolphin kick on back, 3 rounds dolphin kick on side or breaststroke pullouts, and the last round is choice.

We do the UW kicking in lane 1 with an athlete leaving every 10 seconds. This allows the coach to rapidly time every athlete to 12.5 yards. Upon completing the 25, the swimmer moves to lane 2 or 3 for the 75. This helps the keep the lane clear for the underwater kickers. For purposes of the The Swimming Calculator, I have defined the levels of kicking ability for senior swimmers as the following times to 12.5 yards.

For Men:
4.6 seconds or faster – World Class
4.7-5.2 seconds – Elite
5.3-5.8 seconds – Great
5.9-6.6 seconds – Good
6.7-7.4 seconds – Average
7.5-8.2 seconds – Poor
slower than 8.3 seconds – Awful

For Women
5.4 seconds or faster – World Class
5.5-6.0 seconds – Elite
6.1-6.6 seconds – Great
6.7-7.4 seconds – Good
7.5-8.2 seconds – Average
8.3-9.0 seconds – Poor
slower than 9.1 seconds – Awful

The Swimming Calculator

Coach Ryan Woodruff

Ever wonder how much faster your swimmer would be if he would just fix his turns? Curious about the combination of tempos and cycle counts that will lead to the fastest time for your swimmer?

This is the tool for you.

The Swimming Calculator (click to download the excel sheet)

Toy around with it a bit and let me know what you think. I am interested to hear any suggestions, and if anyone knows how to set this up in an html format, I would love to be able to put it on the web to eliminate the cumbersome excel download.

The Swimming Calculator can also henceforth be found in the Tools for Coaches section in the menu above.