As swimmers, we spend so much of our time in preparation for the next time we need to perform. Hours of conditioning, working on technique, and even mental preparation for that next race. So much so, that often a key component of the sport can be overlooked, or even forgotten, strategy. Hard work can only go so far in any sport, your body is a key component to your success, but so is your mind. A 50 free doesn’t require much thought, just twenty odd seconds of sprinting as hard as you can and you’re done. But in longer events, this is no longer the case. Take the 200 free for instance, it sits somewhere in the middle ground between distance and sprints. This is where a racing strategy comes into play. Personally, I have found that the best way for me to swim the 200 is to break it up into 50s.
In the first 50 you want to push yourself a little out of your comfort zone. You will have the added momentum of your dive here, so it’s best to keep that extra speed going as smoothly as you can.
Over the course of the second 50 build your speed as you go, maximizing both your stroke rate and the strength of each pull so that you are still efficient in the water as you set yourself up for the final 100.
The third 50 is where you need to start picking up the pace. Focus on increasing stroke rate while also maintaining a more conservative kick.
For the last 50 you need to put your head down and sprint as hard as you can for the final stretch of the race. Take everything you were doing for the third 50 and expand on it, increase your stroke tempo and kick as hard as you can.
Not every strategy will work for every swimmer, so experiment with your swims and figure out what works for you specifically.