39 Thoughts Swimmers Have During the 200 Butterfly

Photo Courtesy: Fabio Ferrari - LaPresse

39 Thoughts All Swimmers Have During the 200 Butterfly

By Sophia Chiang, Swimming World College Intern

We’re pretty sure everyone is terrified of the 200 butterfly. Well, except for Michael Phelps, maybe. But let’s just make it clear that Phelps is absolutely the exception and not the rule. Even if you’re a 200 flyer and you swim the event at every single meet, there’s still a very strong love-hate dynamic going on with this event. No, it’s not as long as a 1500-meter freestyle (thank goodness) but it’s certainly no walk in the park either. Non-flyers are terrified of swimming this event, and while you certainly can attest that it’s not that bad, you’re not exactly thrilled to swim that much butterfly either (even if you train for it). Can we have the 50 butterfly back, please?

Although the event is only around two minutes long (possibly less than that if you’re an absolute animal), if you’re anything like me, a lot of thoughts can go through your head in that amount of time…

  1. Okay, it’s only a 200. I do that all the time in practice, right?
  2. Don’t take it out too fast or you’ll die. But definitely don’t take it out too slow. Wait, how do I do that again?
  3. That’s the girl next to me? I need to lift more.
  4. Alright, the heat before me is almost done. I can do this. I think.
  5. GO GO GO!
  6. Under waters, under waters, under waters! Dolphin dolphin dolphin!
  7. Okay, keep your cool.
  8. Hey this doesn’t hurt yet!
  9. I like butterfly a lot when I’m not in pain! I am flying!
  10. That girl is really going for it. I think I might be able to, too?
  11. I think I’m going to get going now.
  12. Okay, now I think I’m going to get going.
  13. Am I going out too fast? We are barely at the 100 mark…
  14. *turns* Oh wow, I definitely went out too fast. This one’s gonna hurt…
  16. Okay, I got this. I have endurance (sort of). I can pick it up too.
  18. I definitely need to beat this girl next to me. I can definitely catch her.
  19. Eh, not so sure anymore.
  21. H-e-e-e-y, there’s that second wind! Okay, I definitely can do this!
  22. Last 50, here I come!
  23. Is everyone as tired as me?
  24. If everyone’s as tired as me, why aren’t they slowing down?
  25. It’s literally a 50. I do this everyday. Come on, body, pick it up!
  26. My mind says yes but my body says NO.
  27. This is MY. RACE.
  28. I’m going to black out.
  29. Is it normal to lose feeling in my shoulders? No?
  30. Well there go the shoulders. At least they don’t hurt anymore.
  31. Oh, and there go the legs. I think I am just a moving torso now.
  32. I could always stop.
  33. Last 10 meters! Fight through the pain!
  35. How am I still alive?
  36. I am never doing that again.
  37. Just kidding, coach will make me do it next meet for sure.
  38. I actually love the 200 fly.
  39. That wasn’t so bad. Why was I complaining in the first place?


    • avatar
      Alan turner

      He can’t even finish haha

    • Calo Gv

      X q esa cara amor?

    • Karen Robles Murillo

      Calo Gv pfff estaba buscando una carita riendose, no se xq salió esa

    • Calo Gv

      Es una descripción demasiado fiel a la realidad, demasiado

    • Gabriella Ribas

      “I’m going to black out.”
      HAHAHAHA muito isso!! já passei por cada um deles !

    • Beth Scott

      Not quite Andrew ? because you can slow down your pace of other strokes and your stroke will not fall apart if you do. What make fly so incredibly difficult is the fact that you have to swim it at fast pace in order to swim the stroke. So by the end of of the 200 fly you can’t back down at all or your stoke starts looking more like a drowning victim. You start to feel like your legs are sinking like you will go vertical at any moment. You also feel like there is a grand piano and an elephant on your back the last few strokes into the wall. I have swam the mile, the 800, the 500 and the 400IM and nothing ever really comes close to how it feels to be swimming the last few strokes of the 200 fly.

    • Andrew Spencer Ashby

      I have my opinion and will certainly not read the short story you posted. Have a good day.

    • avatar
      Tyler Holman

      They both sucked when we had to do them Andrew

  1. Erin Hynd

    Alison Hynd I feel this on a spiritual level.

  2. Roger Thompson

    Jessi, does Emma have any of these…hmmm…

  3. I haven’t tried butterfly but experience some of these thoughts wen I swim 200 lengths breast stroke lol xx

    • Beth Scott

      Not quite the same Sophia ? because you can slow down your pace of breaststroke and your stroke will not fall apart. What make fly so incredibly difficult is the fact that you have to swim it at fast pace in order to swim the stroke. So by the end of of the 200 fly you can’t back down at all or your stoke starts looking more like a drowning victim. You start to feel like your legs are sinking like you will go vertical at any moment. You also feel like there is a grand piano and an elephant on your back the last few strokes into the wall. I have swam the mile, the 800, the 500 and the 400IM and nothing ever really comes close to how it feels to be swimming the last few strokes of the 200 fly.

  4. Eric Chou

    Tiffany Cheng, I will never understand how you could ever finish this event. Let alone do it multiple times.

    • Tiffany Cheng

      Hahah me neither! I miss those days of being in shape!

  5. Dearbhla Galvin

    Don’t know how you did it Claire Gibbons ?

  6. Claire Turner

    Just read this to my 2 daughters…my youngest (10 year old) did the 200 fly yesterday….she said this is exactly how she felt! ??

    • Jo Corben

      Why? That would be my first thought!

    • Claire Tagg

      Jo, that’s what I thought!

  7. Mario Modesto

    Back when I did the 200 for a moment I didn’t know it was me dying. Oxygen deprivation?

    • Andrew Webber

      No. You’re not running out of oxygen, but when you work hard there’s a real need to breathe, mostly to expel the byproducts of your hard work.
      Tried breathing every stroke? Lot of world fly records held by men and women that do.

    • Mario Modesto

      It’s a joke Andrew. I’m 50 and have no intention of competing or suffering. Also I’m a breaststroker. IM was my torture. Thanks though.

  8. Tessa Meyer

    Josie Ledgerwood this is me every time.

  9. Iris Berg

    Miranda Nijenhuis Jan Kersten

    • Iris Berg

      Wat dacht je van 37, volgend jaar moeten jullie gewoon weer! Hahahah

    • Beth Scott

      Don’t imagine it, as it will mess you up. lol

    • Lauren O

      Wayy too accurate apart from the “that wasn’t so bad” at the end? I don’t think that thought has EVER crpssed my mind after a 200fly!!

  10. Heather Guyett-Smith

    Cayden does say why would anyone do 200 fly. Collette loves it!

  11. Ri Cooper

    I think Cayden has a point

  12. Tiernan Keane

    Maddy Ryan I think you’d enjoy reading this

  13. Brenda Osterman Ray

    The 200 fly and 1650 are my daughter’s favorite events and have been for the last 10 years-6 days a week. She loves them!

  14. Nadine Hunkert

    Andrea Hunkert das dürfte dir bekannt vorkommen 😉

    • Oliver Frøsig

      Haha nr 39 gør jeg altid

      Og overvejer næsten også altid at stoppe

  15. Adája Stoetman

    Kristel Hormann Cynthia van Beusekom Karen Stolk

  16. Menna Tarek Elmallawany

    The only thought that I had when I did the 100 fly
    Was either why the hell did I do it or that I am dieing

    • Sylvana Kusters

      Hahahaha echt wel, nummer 2 en 6 en 27 en nog veel meer ? en vooral 36 en 37 hebben we aan Robbert Donk te danken?

  17. Shaylyne R. Fisher

    Hollye Blekestad I think these just swimming the 100 fly

    • Denise Johnson Nohner

      I did a 400 fly in practice once. Coach said we were all slacking and i disagreed with her. She told me to do a 400 fly, and i did it. And she told me i was a rock star afterwards. The 200 fly and 200 back were my faves, totally.

    • Emil Pandrup

      Det værste er at det faktisk er helt rigtigt med næsten alle ting?

  18. avatar

    In my last college meet, coach put me in the 200 fly. I had never swum the event and hadn’t even been swimming fly in workouts. My second hundred was over 30 seconds slower than my first. But I finished.

    Years later as a masters swimmer, I decided to swim the 200 fly at every meet to “atone” for my college swim. Once I even swam three 200 flys back to back in a workout. I did manage to finally swim the 200 fly with only 10 seconds different between the two 100s. Now when friends try to get me to enter open water races, I tell them that I’ll enter an open water race after they swim the 200 fly. No one has ever taken me up on that.

  19. Keiron Goltz

    Brandon Mutch Tom Schmidt me in the 50

  20. William Saldaña

    Louis Choron Lauren Alff Harry Kilbane Tom Conte Leon Shaw

    • Da Niel

      Jan HasenpuschFabian Kemeny

  21. Alyssa Martinez

    Rachael Caitlin McKay I thought it was just going to say “I’m dying” and “I’m dead” 39 times

  22. Lisa Updyke

    Read this to my 16 year old butterfler. She totally agreed!

  23. Salome Mariner Borg

    Any of these go through your head Olivia Jennifer? Lol Charlie Borg

    • Cameron Bosch

      Hahahaha…had a good laugh now. Spot on! ?

  24. Kristen Spremullo

    My number one thought was ALWAYS “Why does this have to be my best event?!” ?

  25. Bill Reeder

    This does happen, every time in 200 fly… No idea how the author remembered them all

  26. David Sutherland

    Rachael Keir Laura Robertson will this be you pair this weekend ?

  27. Amanda Moser

    Mallory Behr Miriam Himelstein Janae Brown

  28. Eileen Kees

    Very true! I remember thinking and feeling these same thoughts…..one more thought…..if I can swim sets of 400yd fly I can surely swim this 200.

  29. Kenley Shroyer

    When I survived this race I never ever ever said “I love 200 fly”. #breaststroker

  30. Erinn Como

    Rebecca Como – you definitely don’t think 38 and 39. Lol

    • Lucie Lundenberg

      all accurate except i have never said “i love 200 fly”

  31. April Michelle

    Kristen Nathalie Brian Duncan Shanna Jocelyn Loren Dale Chris

    • Damon Rodd

      Reckon I had every single one Han !!

  32. Barry Nilson

    I’d like to know how many alleged “best athletes in the world” NFL players could swim a mere 25 yards of butterfly??

  33. Barry Nilson

    I’d like to know how many alleged “best athletes in the world” NFL players could swim a mere 25 yards of butterfly??

  34. Malcolm Stringer


    • Beth Scott

      Not quite the ? because you can slow down your pace of other strokes and your stroke will not fall apart if you do. What make fly so incredibly difficult is the fact that you have to swim it at fast pace in order to swim the stroke. So by the end of of the 200 fly you can’t back down at all or your stoke starts looking more like a drowning victim. You start to feel like your legs are sinking like you will go vertical at any moment. You also feel like there is a grand piano and an elephant on your back the last few strokes into the wall. I have swam the mile, the 800, the 500 and the 400IM and nothing ever really comes close to how it feels to be swimming the last few strokes of the 200 fly.

    • Malcolm Stringer


    • David Broadbent

      200 Fly is worse, I swim both events and the only event worse than the 200 Fly is 400IM. I really hate how they are my best events ?

  35. Corinne Harden Podawiltz

    I see you left this list of thoughts to the less ‘colorful’ ones, & not the more ’emphatic’ ones that also sneak in quite often! LOL!!

    • Ashlea Jade

      ??? had all those thoughts before

    • Chris Boensel

      Absolutely! There are probably another 5 not listed and those are laced with expletives.

  36. Kailie Arb

    Melissa Nicole Jordan!

  37. Kobie Markham

    Rebecca Leigh Carlson show this to bella

    • Carol Ross

      Hahahha I believe you!!

    • Clare McPhillips

      So true! And now that all goes through my head if I do 25m when I do some laps!

  38. Alex Robinson

    Sam Carpenter actual truth right there ??

  39. Celina Basalo

    These don’t apply if you have ‘trained’ for the 200 fly.

    • Beth Scott

      No it still hurts but not as much.

  40. Dee Sheffrin

    Caroline Clarkson, Murray Burns

  41. Eli Dimitrova

    Lisa Cooke haha thats me when i did the 200 Fly for the first time ?this is so true ?????

  42. Lee Morgan

    Fanciful and trite. Most of these thoughts indicate lack of preparation.

    • avatar

      Not really. Lack of these thoughts would indicate a lack of effort in the race.

  43. Remi Neeno

    Banah-Jena Fakhoury
    Sandy Zureik
    Carole Zureik

  44. Kara Walsh

    Christine Joyce Wasilewski

  45. Brett Davidson

    Missing the thought that everyone in the stands must be chewing a wasp watching me go nowhere….

  46. avatar

    Can’t be a fan of any butterfly article that does not reference the bastard who drops the piano on your back as you’re trying to bring it home.

  47. Alexander B Gallant

    I am still working on 25 fly. Swimming is stoking and breathing. Good technique is essential

  48. David Samuelsohn

    As a sage, veteran coach who has worked with athletes at every level, I can tell you: The 200 Fly is an intelligence test – if you enter, you fail. 🙂

    • Beth Scott

      Yes. But I always loved Butterfly no hate! It’s the most beautiful , powerful stroke and I miss being able to swim it.

  49. Betsy Bovich

    Joanne Donovan Bovich for Stuart Bovich

  50. avatar
    Jim Spellman

    I have a friend that was a very good 100 Butterflier, but when he swam the 200, almost anything could happen.
    In a college league championship meet, he looked good for 150 but could not finish it.
    He had to kick in ( without stroking) the last 5 yards!!!!
    It was the most hysterically funny thing I ever saw and the story is still told close to 40 years later!!!!

    • Griffin Miller

      Given how slow mine is I definitely have more than 39 thoughts go through my head but these are definitely some of them

  51. Eddie Escobar

    The number one thought during the 200 butterfly: WHY THE F DID I AGREE TO DO THIS? !?!?!

  52. Jean Ramadani

    De bons souvenirs, n’est-ce pas Katy?

  53. Bea Fuentes

    I’ve been swimming the 50 fly & the struggle is real especially when you’re 43 years old & back in the pool after a 10 year hiatus

    • Amie Krueger

      I’ve been saying all of these for 5 1/2 weeks now!!! But this is actually what I have to say when I swim backstroke ?
      I’d rather swim Butterfly all day! Ha! ??❤️?

  54. Louise Marie

    So true!!! Keep going back for more cam!!

  55. Felix Olbertz

    Daniel Heringer, Lena Brunk. So war das damals

    • Daniel Heringer

      ?? den swimming torso Part kenn ich sehr gut ?

    • Lena Brunk

      HahaHaha ich hab das Gefühl so motiviert war ich dabei nie 😀 spätestens nach 100 dachte ich mir nur tschüssss

  56. Nuria Sacchetti

    Iwie chani entspannend ni finge Alisha Uhlmann

  57. Fran Ziska

    Anna- Katharina Poddig gut dass ich nie in die Verlegenheit gekommen bin ?

  58. Katherine Kerr Gleason

    Lol. I only ever had one thought during the 200 fly. PLEASE never make me do this again!!!

  59. avatar
    Joe Hillstrom

    I have swum fly for many years and I have the VersiStyle Swim Challenge where one has to swim inside of one month 25,50,100,200,400,800 and 1500m of each stroke Having done that you qualify to swim the Super VersiStyle Challenge. This is swimming 4×25,4×50,4×100,4×200,4×400,4×800 and 4x1500m Individual medleys. I have many swimmers in East London South Africa who have achieved this challenge. Am on Facebook

  60. Rony Daher

    Jorge Suárez Hernan Campos Zapata???

  61. Leslie Jane Keenan

    This is so what Alyssa’s thinking through her 200 fly!!!

  62. Karen Hanson Denker

    I despised this event! Only swam it once in a meet. Then became a backstroker.

    • Lori Terzopoulos

      I swam it twice in college. Best shape of my life and it still was the most painful event ever

  63. Luna Kim

    Bryson Baligad Corinne Lythgoe Sydney Bishoff

    • Luna Kim

      (me in the 200 back) especially 38 and 39 lol

  64. Dominik Galić

    Article gettong more and more stupid..swimming is not stupid.

  65. Rick Stanfield

    I don’t know any swimmer except younger age groupers who are “terrified” of swimming any event.

    • Bob Perkins

      Maybe not “terrified “, but certainly very nervous for some… 200 fly, 400 IM, possibly 200 breast/back, 500

    • Rick Stanfield

      Bob Perkins maybe some HSers, but, the kids I’ve had, might have been concerned, but, mostly about how “bad” it might loo. 2Fly, 4IM and 2Br were my least favorite ever.

    • Michael White

      Rick Stanfield you should come take a journey to Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. You’ll see a different side of things.

    • Jennifer Brurok

      Rick Stanfield my 14 yr olds favorite race as a 13 yr old was the 2Breast. She has never worked so hard and felt so prepared to swim at Sr State and get her JNat cut- and then COVID took that dream away. I hope she gets the chance to race it again some day.

    • Sasha Green

      I’m terrified of the 800 and 1500 ?

  66. Anthony J Martinez

    In high school, I had those complaints with 100 fly…not because it was the 100 but because every meet I swam that and 500 free which were only separated by 100 free.

  67. John Ian Bobbitt

    I dunno… I always got disoriented on my back, so backstroke was always a huge embarrassment. I’d bounce off the lines all the way. So yeah, I was terrified

  68. Benjamin van der Wel

    #40 from a Masters Swimming perspective: “OMG. There is no coach telling me my scholarship depends on this. -I- signed up for this event! Whyyyyyyy?”

    • Montserrat Hidalgo

      Federico Llobet jajajaja increíble. Pensé en vos tragando sangre!! Demasiado carga!

    • Ania Piedra

      Montserrat Hidalgo …. y si es molotov??????

    • Montserrat Hidalgo

      Ania Piedra buaaajajajjaaja ya se me había olvidado el Molotov!!! Jajajjajjajaj….eso faltó en esa lista definitivamente

    • Ania Piedra

      Montserrat Hidalgo a mi eso NUNCAAAAA se me va a olvidar … es mas lo pense y ya me duelen los hombros!!!

  69. Jimmy Smith

    Megan Kingsley… care to add?!!!!

    • Aoife Ní

      Catherine Long number 26…. did this recently enough. That 3rd 50 is so bad…. and then there’s the last 50! ?

  70. Kelly Stuart

    My 11 year old daughter’s favourite stroke ? ??‍♀️

    • Michelle Turnbull

      Heather my daughters favourite event 200 fly and shes 11 lol

    • Karen Atherton

      Heather Wengert Alexander that’s why my son looks up to your son. At age 9 his favorites were 100 fly?. His goal is try a 200 fly at age 10.

  71. Terrance Ramirez

    My friend Pete Lamar swam it once, just once. His quote I got all tingly and thought I was gonna die.

  72. Monica Tillner-hoppe

    I cried each time before the race and said why did I sign up for this!!!!

  73. Jaclyn Kile

    Jill Massie-Braun Karen Thor Bland Sandye Horne

    • Aimee Grella

      Collette Grella Scanlon accurate ?

    • Steven Roth

      Kevin Henningsen 14 is something that I always think

    • Steven Roth

      Kevin Henningsen fucking hell ?

  74. Spencer Royer

    Good ol 2 fly. Hardest version is 50 meter. Swam it a gazillion times.

  75. Scott Primmer

    Imogen Primmer swam it a few times ?

  76. Patrick Cummins

    I absolutely loved the 200 Fly. Long and short course but long was so much more fun. I was always told I was sick in the head for loving that event?

  77. Michael Yacos

    Shawn Warner – this made me laugh. Pretty accurate on my end.

    • Shawn Warner

      Michael Yacos hahah a 200 fly is bad, but doing it every single dual meet in college was way worse

    • Michael Yacos

      Shawn Warner every meet!? I did it twice; both as a punishment for drinking haha

  78. Greg Grass

    All three of my daughters swam the 200 fly and a Masters swimmer friend of mine observed that it should be my best event. Turns out, he was right. Fifth at Nationals in 2016.

  79. Kristy Williams

    Darlene Devlin this immediately made me think of Blaze but he wouldn’t have complained at all and probably would have said only a 200! ?

    • Darlene Devlin

      Back in the day, yes!!!! But now if I told him he was doing a 200, he’d give me a hard NO!!! ??

    • Darlene Devlin

      That was so funny and I can totally see Blackwell doing this to him!!! ???

  80. Jeff Vance

    #1 Why the heck did I agree to swim this race?

  81. William Campbell

    Jeremy Chick Tasker my actual thought process when I race you in 200 fly

    • Jeremy Chick Tasker

      William Campbell hahahaha my thought process is: why is Will so happy

    • William Campbell

      Jeremy Chick Tasker because I’m clinically insane ??

  82. Nic Chappell

    Ellie Chappell, Amelia Chappell ?

  83. Tara Daynes

    Caitlin Albrow this could not be more accurate ?

    • Caitlin Albrow

      Tara Daynes literally all my thoughts during the race ?

    • Tara Daynes

      Caitlin Albrow I actually really miss swimming it thought like a couple days after I was always like I do really love 200 fly ?

    • Caitlin Albrow

      Tara Daynes yeah I do miss a 200 fly ??

  84. Jo Allan

    Morgan Allan??? ?

  85. David Yeo

    SwimFirst Aquatic Centre for Josh

  86. Sara Reid

    Jemma Reid – this was definitely you!

    • Peter McGee

      Where do these articles come from? I swim the 1500 free and was planning to swim an 800 fly at Nationals. Event has been cancelled so I need a different motivation to keep training. I enjoy the swim, and especially love the way others admire my . . . . . (add word like stupidity, ego, desparation etc). Each to their own.

  87. George Edgar

    Another thought: how did Mark Spitz do this with a full head of hair and a mustache?

  88. Kylie Finlayson

    My thought of the 200 fly was, oh hell no! And I never raced it lol

  89. Lee Bezold

    When that gorilla drops out of the ceiling and lands on your back for the ride the last lap your thoughts get desperate. Expecially long course.

  90. Micheal Jason Babich

    I’ve never participated in this event! I swam for 10 years! Lol

    • Karin Grebe

      Guusje van Lent it’s so true ??

  91. Dana Steib Wise

    Underwater kick to the red line every time lol

    • Abi Watson

      Me during that 200 fly i swam in exchange for food??

  92. Bianca Jennifer Troup

    Hmmm I don’t know but the 200 fly is my race and its counting strokes…done..

  93. Marco Schwarz

    Angus Kingsell, am not sure this applies to you. Every time I watched you do this, you seem to switch to Moses Mode as the water simply parted, afraid of offending you.

    • Rick Stanfield

      Bob McKeon exactly my thought each time.

  94. Lynette Hines

    This is what I think at the 50m turn !! Number 36!!’n

  95. Lin Tozer

    Cameron Baker Sam Brown lol

  96. Raymond Coombs

    My only thought during 200 fly was not drowning on the last 50!

    • Rich Davis

      Raymond Coombs I did that on the 1st 50!

  97. Dick Simpson

    “I’m gonna die” was my usual thought after about 100 meters.

  98. Michael Hollowell

    In yards it was always just keep a good rhythm. Meters I would hit the 50 and question why the heck I signed up for this.

  99. Jim Liguori

    Squeeze the knees! Squeeze the knees! You have be make it an active thing. (It really works, you’ll get that oompf from your kick especially off the walls).

  100. Chip Parker

    I’m gonna die was my usual thought after the first 25 yards or meters. God forbid a long course pool?

  101. Kelly Allen Grubb

    Mine was ‘I will never talk back to my coach again!!’… well I did and had to swim the 500 free and I was bored out of my mind!! ?

  102. Debbie Alston Janicke

    The old adage….
    “Carrying a piano on my back” (with no air) lol

  103. Lori Brunoro

    Isabella Brunoro Sophia Brunoro do some of these sound familiar?!!

  104. Carrie Tran

    I can’t watch my kids race 200Fly… too scary for me ?

  105. Ian McLeod

    Craig Johns Craig Magnusson