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How to set 100m & 200m goal times

I often get asked whether there is a model to predict what time a swimmer should do for a 100m race or a 200m race based off their best 50m time.

While there is a general rule of thumb that I use, I must stress that it will vary for each swimmer depending on their fitness levels.  It also varies slightly between strokes.

The examples below are based on a swimmer aged 10 to 13 years however any age swimmer can use them as a guide.  I would recommend swimmers younger than this and those swimming in Masters events need to add a couple of seconds to each lap in the examples 🙂

I have found that whatever time a swimmer can do for a 50m freestyle swim, they can normally add 1 to 1½  seconds for the first 50m and then add a further 4 to 6 seconds for the second 50m.  So for a swimmer with a best time for 50m freestyle of 34.0 seconds, the goal on the first lap is to swim a 35.0 to 35.5 with their feet on the wall and the goal in the second lap is to swim a 38.0 to 40.0.  Depending on a swimmer’s fitness and body makeup the final goal time should be somewhere between 1:13.0 to 1:15.5.  As the swimmer gets older 14 years to 25 years), the gap between their best time and their splits in a 100m freestyle will reduce until they are aiming to complete their 100m freestyle in a time that is double their 50m time plus 3 seconds.

For 100m butterfly, the drop off in the second 50m may be a little more than 4 to 6 seconds from your best 50m time, however the fitter you get and the more you practice you do, the quicker your second 50m time will drop down.

An aggressive goal for a 200m time would be to take your 100m time, double it and add 10 seconds for freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke and add 12 seconds for butterfly.  So if your best 100m freestyle time is 1min 20sec, your goal 200m time should be 2min 50sec.  The fitter you are, the easier this will be to achieve.

If you have any thoughts on a formula that works, we would love to see it in the comments section below.

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