Relative Race Strategies for SCY Swimming

Introduction

As a follow-up to “Building A Relative Race Strategy”, this post re-visits the relative race strategies for the 100 and 200 short-course-yard (SCY) stroke events from the D1 NCAA Swimming Championships.

Given there are many theories of how to effectively split (i.e. manage) a swimming race, the goal of this case study is to portray the quantifiable evidence of how the best swimmers actually do compete so that training strategies can be tailored accordingly.

For example, back in the day, my best event was the 200 Butterfly, but I also swam the 200 Freestyle occasionally, and the 200 race strategy that I trained for, regardless of stroke or metric, was:

  • 1st 50 = Baseline

  • 2nd 50 = Baseline + 1.5 seconds

  • 3rd 50 = Baseline + 1.0 seconds

  • 4th 50 = Baseline + 0.5 seconds

As a result, this math would tell you that, again regardless of stroke or metric, you were supposed to split your race evenly, front to back. However, as you are about to read in this case study, not a single 200 event, female or male, is evenly split.


Data Set

The data set for this case study uses the following criteria:

Furthermore, each performance is broken down by splits (2 x 50’s for the 100-yard races and 4 x 50’s for the 200-yard races) so that average split’s can be calculated and compared relative to each other.

In the end, each of the 16 events in the data set is broken down into absolute split comparisons to a clock (i.e. in seconds and hundredths), and relative split comparisons to other splits (i.e. in percentages).

Additionally, calculators are included so that the splits for any target time can be deduced based on the relative race strategies produced from this analysis.

For context, using the Female 100-SCY Backstroke and the Male 200-SCY Freestyle as examples, when reading the charts and tables below, the data can be interpreted as:

Event Analysis Charts (Exhibits 1 through 4)

Female 100-SCY Backstroke

  • Final Time = 50.98

  • 1st 50 = 24.76 (48.6% of total time)

  • 2nd 50 = 26.22 (51.4% of total time; an increase of 5.9% over the 1st 50)

Male 200-SCY Freestyle

  • Final Time = 1:32.33

  • 1st 50 = 21.51 (23.3% of total time)

  • 2nd 50 = 23.27 (25.2% of total time; an increase of 8.2% over the 1st 50)

  • 3rd 50 = 23.61 (25.6% of total time; an increase of 9.8% over the 1st 50)

  • 4th 50 = 23.94 (25.9% of total time; an increase of 11.3% over the 1st 50)

Event Calculator Tables (Exhibits 5 through 8)

Female 100-SCY Backstroke

  • Goal Time = 53.53

  • 1st 50 = 48.6% of the total time = 26.00

  • 2nd 50 = 51.4% of total time = 27.53

Male 200-SCY Freestyle

  • Final Time = 1:36.95

  • 1st 50 = 23.3% of total time = 22.59

  • 2nd 50 = 25.2% of total time = 24.43

  • 3rd 50 = 25.6% of total time = 24.79

  • 4th 50 = 25.9% of total time = 25.14


Conclusion

What the data from exhibits 1-4 shows is that, for both the 100 and 200-yard events, the long-axis strokes (i.e. backstroke and freestyle) maintain a tighter split strategy than the short-axis (i.e. butterfly and breaststroke) strokes.

Additionally, the data re-iterates that, regardless of the stroke, the best swimmers in the country do not descend their 50’s throughout a 200.

Ultimately, this data supports the case to produce tailored race strategies based on stroke, distance, and gender, as opposed to a generic race strategy for every event.


Exhibit 1
Female 100-SCY Stroke Analysis
Average of 50 performances for each race across 10 competitions


Exhibit 2
Female 200-SCY Stroke Analysis
Average of 50 performances for each race across 10 competitions


Exhibit 3
Male 100-SCY Stroke Analysis
Average of 50 performances for each race across 10 competitions


Exhibit 4
Male 200-SCY Stroke Analysis
Average of 50 performances for each race across 10 competitions


Exhibit 5
Female 100-SCY Event Calculators

 
 
 

Exhibit 6
Female 200-SCY Event Calculators

 
 
 

Exhibit 7
Male 100-SCY Event Calculators

 
 
 

Exhibit 8
Male 200-SCY Event Calculators

 
 
 

Author: Elliot Meena

Published: June 29th, 2019

Source: Omega Timing, Swimming World Magazine

Note: charts now drawn to an equivalent scale; some splits may not equal the final time directly due to rounding