How to Swim the 100 Freestyle

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The Importance of the 100 Freestyle

Nathan Adrian of the United States celebrates after he won the Final of the Men's 100m Freestyle.
Nathan Adrian of the United States celebrates after he won the Final of the Men's 100m Freestyle. Adam Pretty/Getty Images

This is the sixth post in a series of how to swim each swimming event [How to swim the 50 breaststrokeHow to swim the 50 freestyleHow to swim the 200 butterflyHow to swim the 100 backstroke; How to swim the mile; How to Swim the 200 backstroke]. In this series, we'll go through the techniques and tactics of specifically swimming the race. Despite common belief, each swimming race has unique subtitles, requiring different racing strategy. Now, many race strategies exist for each race, so consult with your coach for creating a strategy best for you. However, this strategy is a good place to start or use if you are coaching yourself, enjoy!

The 100 freestyle is one of the most important races in Olympic swimming. A good 100 freestyler contributes not only in the 100 freestyle, but also the 400 free relay and 400 medley relay. The importance of this distance only makes the event faster and more dificult to crack in the top positions. Therefore, having a racing strategy is key. Once again, individual racing programs are necessary for each person. Talk with your coach and develop a plan best suited for your specific needs. Just remember, an even split race is best for the 100 freestyle like many events. This means your first 50 and last 50 should be approximately the same time. Remember, pace yourself properly and practice your goal pace in practice. Also, try these tips!

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1st 25


Whether you are swimming a long course or short course race, the first step for an elite 100 freestyle is a great start. Work on a powerful start and transferring your energy on the block into your race. Following the start, establishing a powerful, long stroke is a key feature in the 100, since you can't sprint the entire race like the 50 freestyle. Stay relaxed and established your breathing pattern during the start of the race. 

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2nd 25

After the first 25, maintaining your stroke length and power is necessary as you approach the end of the first 50. At this time, you should remain relaxed and minimally fatigued. As you approach the 50, increase your speed, preparing yourself to slingshot yourself in and out of your turn. If you are able to have a strong turn, you can transfer energy efficiently from the push-off and create effortless speed. 

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3rd 25

Freestyle Underwater
Freestyle Underwater. Adam Pretty/Getty Images

During the third 25 of the 100 freestyle fatigue will ensue as expected. Nonetheless, effort level must increase during this period, negating the effects of fatigue. Over this length, try maintaining your distance per stroke by either grabbing more water with your catch or driving your rotation through the snap of your kick. Remember, stay relaxed, breathe, and don't tighten the body!

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4th 25

Cristian Quintero of USC looks to defend his title. Getty Images.

The last leg of the race is difficult, but gratifying. Clearly, fatigue and discomfort will increase during this lap. However, if paced properly, fatigue will be less for you than your competitiors. Stay relaxed, breathe, and maintain your distance per stroke and effort level as your approach the wall. As you enter the finish (around the flags), discontinue your breathing pattern and keep your head down and still. Attempt to hold your breath into the finish, giving your best effort as your speed into the wall. 

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Anthony Ervin
Anthony Ervin. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Despite being one of the shorter races, fatigue is paramount during the race. Make sure to practice your goal pace and work on maintaing this pace during times of fatigue.

Good luck and enjoy a tough, but important race!