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How to improve Backstroke time over 200m


Hi Gary,

My son is of 18yrs. His main stroke is backstroke.His 200m timing is 2m 27s,Since from last year he is unable to improve his time. His target is 2m 20s.What should be done? Please advice.




Hi Aditi,

Backstroke swimmers need to do lots of backstroke.  Too often, swimming programs are based around freestyle so that more distance can be covered in each session.  Backstrokers need to swim backstroke regularly and for good distances.

I have had alot of success coaching backstroke swimmers over the years and while I worked on improving their technique and skills continually, I found that if I swapped some of the freestyle sets to backstroke for swimmers who were good at backstroke or IM, they improved in backstroke alot more quickly.

To improve a 200m backstroke, some of the sets each week involving 200s and even 400s should be done backstroke at a good solid pace (not easy!).  If we were doing some  aerobic work eg 6 x 400 I would get some of them to do 3 backstroke and 3 freestyle and the 200m backstroke may do this type of set all backstroke.

To swim a time of 2m 20sec he will also need to work on improving his speed over 50m and 100m.  To break 2m 20sec he will need to hold around 35 sec for the last 3 50’s of his 200m.  In training he could try holding sets of 6 x 50m on 60sec swimming 35 sec for each 50m.  This will be a real challenge at the start however if he wants to do this time, it is something he would need to work towards.  Once he achieves this, try 4 x 50m on 50sec holding 35 sec for each one.

The other area to work on in backstroke is holding a solid stroke rate whilst still retaining a strong hold on the water with correct technique when pulling through. If your son can hold the water as he pulls through and hold an increased stroke rate (arms moving a bit faster) for the whole way, his times will drop.  He will have to practice this regularly in practice for it to be maintained in a race.

Please let me know how your son goes.



The Swimming Expert

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