The 200 Freestyle: Where Distance Meets Sprint

Dean Boxall and Ariarne Titmus

The 200 Freestyle: Where Distance Meets Sprint

By Annika Hobson, Swimming World College Intern

The 200 freestyle, where distance swimmers meet sprinters, is one of the hardest events in competitive swimming. Whether you are racing the 200 freestyle in short course yards or meters, or long course meters, be prepared for a grueling race. The 200 freestyle requires speed, yet also strategic as it is a long sprint event.

Race Strategies

Due to the brevity of the 200 freestyle, it produces a range of racing strategies. You can either view the race as a long, all-out sprint or you can approach it strategically by pacing each 50.

Long Sprint

If you imagine the 200 freestyle as a long sprint, you will need to hone your fast-twitch muscles for the start, the turns and have an efficient finish. To produce a fast 200 free, all the important components need to be in-tune so one does not get behind. If you swim fast and have bad turns, your competitors can get ahead. Therefore, you need to swim cleanly and efficiently to put together a good race.


The other way to swim a 200 freestyle is to think of it in terms of building the race. Take out the first 50 long and strong, build the second 50, push the third 50 and go all out in the last 50. Another tactic is to pace the first 100 strong and go all out during the second 100. To prepare for a 200 free, be sure to practice your pacing in practice by swimming 50s and/or 100s at your ideal racing speed. Additionally, you can further practice by swimming broken 100s to see if your pacing matches up with your 200 free time goals.

Relay Opportunity

The 200 freestyle is featured in the 800 free relay and provides an opportunity for swimmers to compete in a team race. For many mid-distance and distance swimmers, the 800 free relay provides them with a chance to compete in an event with teammates. However, sprinters can also excel in the relay as they push the speed in the front half of their leg of the race and hold it together to put up some fast times. Like the other relays, the 800 free relay is a fast and fun event that can come down to the last 25, or a breath at the flags versus a good finish.

Difficult, Yet Fun

Overall, the 200 freestyle is a challenging race, but it is an enjoyable race to swim since so many swimmers approach it in different ways. Whether your tactic of choice is to view the 200 free as a long sprint or as a race to carefully pace, be sure to nail your third 50 as it will set you up for the closing portion of the race. Approach your next 200 free as an opportunity to test your sprinting endurance and enjoy pushing yourself in one of swimming’s most challenging events.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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1 year ago

Hi really good

Guimaraes Cayley
1 year ago

Or you can swim like Pelegrini (the best ever), or Thorpe, or Manadou (Laure), or van Almsick (she really was a tactical swimmer).

Roberto Camino
1 year ago

It’s correct. It is an event that join some kind of sprinters with endurance and middle distance swimmees who have speed….it is very interesting to see the diferente strategies they could do to face this event.