Learn How to Split your Races Correctly: Featuring the 100 Butterfly

Take a look at the average drop-off for the top male and female athletes in the 100 Butterfly. Now take a look at the 100 Backstroke drop-off from last week. At this point you have probably realized that the average drop-off for each of these races is very different!

Splitting your races correctly will vary significantly depending on the stroke that you are swimming. At this point it is good to point that splitting is very different from pacing. Splitting refers to how fast or how slow the swimmer swims different parts of the race. When you talk about pacing, you should be much more focused on effort levels and energy exerted than split times.

As evidenced by the 100 Butterfly and 100 Backstroke splitting, correct pacing can yield very different splits depending on the stroke. Generally, a similar style of pacing can be used for both the 100 Backstroke and the 100 Butterfly despite the significant drop-off differences between these two events.

Start your 100 meter/yard races out at 95% effort. Focus on long, strong and smooth strokes for the first 25 yards of your race. You already have significant speed from your start, so stay loose and use this momentum to power you through the first part of the race. In the next 25, build your rate or tempo slightly, but resist the urge to increase your rate to the point that you feel  like you are “spinning” in the water. Use this 25 to “build” your momentum so that when you hit the wall and start on the final 50 of the race, you have built to your 100% maximum effort.

Perfect pacing starts with total awareness of your body’s capabilities, which only comes after years of testing the limits in practice and races. So don’t expect to get it perfectly the first time you race! Everyone is different, so you may need to adjust this race style for your own racing style and ability.