Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise because it works all of the major muscle groups in the body while providing cardio and toning at the same time.
Beginner and experienced swimmers may wonder what is a good pace for swimming as a way of measuring their progress. Let’s dive in to find out!
What is a Good Swimming Pace?
Swimming paces can vary depending on the swimmer’s fitness and experience as well as the stroke, but most average swimmers would consider a two-minute pace to swim freestyle for 100 meters to be a good pace.
Pool Swimming Pace
Most swimmers can achieve a faster pace in a pool, which is a controlled environment, than they can in open water. In a pool, there are no tides or waves to slow the pace.
A swimmer who has a comfortable swimming pace of two minutes for 100 meters in a pool might consider a time of one minute and 30 seconds for the same length to be very good if they were competing. The same swimmer might be happy with a slower pace of two minutes and 30 seconds swimming in open water, particularly if the water were choppy.
Top-tier swimmers practice with swimming pace clocks to help them maintain a pace and better estimate their time. This skill is useful during competitions because it provides a benchmark for their performance.
Open Water Swimming Pace
Swimming in open water presents some challenges that can impact a swimmer’s pace. The most obvious challenges exist in oceans, where tides and waves can slow a swimmer’s progress or–in some cases–speed them along.
While lakes don’t have tides, waves can still be an issue if the wind is blowing. Swimming amid a choppy surface requires more energy and can slow the pace of average and experienced swimmers.
In choppy water, someone who can swim 100 meters in two minutes might add 10 seconds or more to their time. The increase in time occurs due to the waves and also because, in a pool, a swimmer can gain speed at each turn by pushing off the pool wall.
How Do Swimming Strokes Affect Pace?
The average pace for freestyle swimming might be 100 meters in two minutes, but choosing a stroke other than freestyle will result in a slower pace. This is because freestyle swimming is considered the fastest stroke followed by butterfly, backstroke, and breaststroke.
The bobbing motion involved in the breaststroke makes it the slowest of the four strokes. The butterfly requires the most exertion on the part of the swimmer, making it slower than freestyle and difficult to sustain over long distances. The backstroke has more rotation than other strokes and swimmers may tire easily due to kicking at the surface.
Swimming pace clocks can help you track your pace for each stroke.
What is a Good Swimming Pace for Competitive Swimmers?
Competitive swimmers spend a lot of time in the water and work hard to improve their pace to be competitive. They use a pace clock for swimming to improve their times.
If a pace of two minutes for 100 yards is good for an average swimmer, how much faster can a competitive swimmer travel the same distance?
World Record for Men
According to Swimming World Magazine, Australian swimmer Kyle Chalmers holds the world record for the men’s 100 meters with a time of 44.84 seconds.
Chalmers’ record shaved .10 seconds off the previous world record, which was held by Frenchman Amaury Leveaux.
World Record for Women
Women tend to be smaller and have less muscle mass than men, which is why their world record–while impressive–is slower than the swim pace for men.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record holder for the women’s 100 meter is Sarah Sjöström of Sweden, whose pace was 51.71 seconds.
How to Calculate Swim Pace in Open Water or a Pool
The calculation to figure out a swimmer’s pace in open water or in a pool is simple. The formula uses the distance traveled and divides it by the time spent swimming to arrive at a pace.
In a pool, it’s easy to measure distance if you know the length of the pool. The calculation can be more difficult in open water, since it may be necessary to estimate. Wearing a fitness watch or tracker may be the best way to track distance and pace in open water.
Using a pace calculator can simplify the process and help any swimmer track their progress and improve their pace. Most swimmers will naturally increase their pace with time as their fitness improves.
Is Swimming Good for a Bad Back?
Swimming is good exercise, but can it be beneficial for people who experience back pain? According to a 2019 study, aquatic exercise that included swimming resulted in a reduction in back pain and increases in overall comfort, productivity, and sleep in a group of overweight women.
Because swimming strengthens the back and core muscles, it provides support for the spine and may help to reduce back pain. Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk to a doctor before taking on any new exercise regimen, including swimming.
Improving Swimming Pace Can Increase Fitness
Swimming regularly is a good way to build muscle, reduce body fat, strengthen the core and spine, and improve overall cardiovascular fitness.
Tracking your swimming pace regularly and working to improve it can increase fitness and lead to better health.