How to Improve Your 100-Meter Freestyle Time
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How to Improve Your 100-Meter Freestyle Time


If you’ve been swimming for years, chances are you’ve stopped seeing big drops in your 100-meter Freestlye time. And now you may find yourself willing to do….just about anything to set a personal best.

Training and taper obviously contribute to improved performance, as does good freestyle technique. But this doesn’t mean that you have to add 10 hours of training to your week (or even one hour, for that matter), or empty your social calendar for the sake of recovery, or spend thousands of dollars on lessons and clinics.

No, actually, there are some very simple things you can do every day that will help you break through the plateau. Here are five ways to improve your best time in the 100-meter freestyle.

Reaction Time

You can drop a fraction of a second simply by getting off the blocks a little faster and with more strength. One way to improve the explosiveness of your start is to incorporate plyometrics into your dryland routine. Plyometrics boost your explosive power by isolating and stretching a muscle before it contracts, so that it contracts with more force than it otherise would. (Make sure you talk to your coach or a trainer before adding plyometric exercises into your training, as they tend to be high-impact movements and doing them incorrectly can lead to injury.)

Flip Turns

In a short-course 100 Freestyle race, there are three turns. Suppose you could go .1 seconds faster on each turn. Well, then you would drop over a quarter of a second, simply by doing more efficient turns. Start by going back to the basics, and religiously practicing these three elements of fast flip turns:

  • Don’t breathe on your first stroke out of the turn.
  • Don’t breathe on your last stroke before the turn.
  • Accelerate into the wall.

You can see additional methods you can use to improve your turns by reading How to Do a Faster Flip Turn.

Underwater Dolphin Kicks

Off of every wall, you should do some streamlined underwater dolphin kicks. These kicks are so important to fast swimming that many coaches talk about them as the ”fifth competitive swimming stroke.” Already doing dolphin kicks off every wall? You can make them more powerful and effective if your do some (or all) of the following:

  • Make your dolphins kicks snappier.
  • Kick “from the hip,” using your whole body in the dolphin motion.
  • Lengthen your streamline, by reaching for the far wall with your hands and head.
  • Press your arms against your ears.
  • Make sure your hands are on top of each other – use the thumb of your top hand to lock them together.

Giive underwater dolphin kicks as much attention and focus as you give your freestyle technique!

The Finish

The way you finish a race can make all the difference. Once you hit the final set of flags, don’t take any more breaths. Reach with your head and shoulders toward the wall, kick harder, and make sure you are looking at the bottom of the pool when your hand hits the wall. You shouldn’t be able to watch your hand hit the wall!

Relax

Too much focus on a particular race outcome (such as a specific time) can create tension. Maybe you need to just stop trying so hard to get a best time! Most of the world’s elite swimmers would tell you that their best performances came on days when they were relaxed, confident, and simply enjoying the thrill of swimming in a race.

If you can figure out how to truly let go of the desire for a particular time, and focus your energy on staying relaxed and breathing freely even in the midst of a race, you may look up at the scoreboard to discover that you shattered your personal best time.

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Saif
1 month ago.
Hi, do you think it is possible to drop from a 31.47 seconds to a 30.00 seconds in 50m butterfly within the space of 2 months? i know i need to work on my fly kicks and my dive, thanks
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hold your breath
Simone
3 months ago.
Hi!
I can’t seem to break the 30 second mark. Could you please give me some advice. Thank!
Swimoutlet.com
3 months ago.
Hello Simone,
The first thing you need to do is fine out what areas you could improve in. You can ask your coach or team mates, or have someone video tape you while you swim the 100 so you can watch it back yourself.
Meadow
3 months ago.
Hi I’m a 12 year old and I really want to breaks a 1:06 because that’s the time quality for the state team. Any tips? My best time is 1:10.99
Swimoutlet.com
3 months ago.
Hello Meadow!
The first thing you need to do is fine out what areas you could improve in. You can ask your coach or team mates, or have someone video tape you while you swim the 100 so you can watch it back yourself. Once you find where your weak points are you can refer to the above blog and use those tips. Good luck!
Henry
4 months ago.
Hi, I'm 14 and currently ended my season as a 13 year old with a 50.5 100 free and would like to break 50 in my first 100 free this year. I was wondering if you have any tips or tricks I can do in practice to lengthen my strokes. I also feel that I need to fix my walls any tips on how to do that? Thank you.
SwimOutlet
3 months ago.
Hi Henry,

To lengthen your strokes we would recommend working on your breathing drills, utilizing your pull buoys, fins etc. and working on your body rotations. Think about rolling from your hips and lengthening forward at the front of your stroke. See our technique article on body rotation. Experiment with pushing down through your chest - there's more support there than you might realize. Also try extending at the front of your stroke and concentrate on finishing the stroke at the rear.
Mac
4 months ago.
I'm a butterflier, and I want to know how much time a can drop in a season. I have a 1:15 (yes I'm young) and want to get down to a 1:06. I've only swam 1 meet this season
swimoutlet.com
4 months ago.
Hi Mac! Only you can determine how much time you drop in a season. In order to improve your time, you really need to switch up your work outs to get more power. Video recording yourself and then finding what you can improve on helps as well.
Adi
5 months ago.
Hi. How do I improve my 50 free shortcourse time , I can't seem to break the 28 second zone. Thanks
Swimoutlet.com
5 months ago.
Hi Adi!
First, you need to find out where you can improve. It helps to video record yourself. Without specifics, it always helps to change up your workout.
SarahT
3 months ago.
My coach always tells us that the part that causes time to be added is in both the breathing and in the fly kicks. She tells us to do less breaths and more kicks. perhaps trying to drop your breaths to 2 per lap (SC) and 3-5 fly kicks off the wall. another thing is just to go for it!! pretend like its the only race youre swimming if youre doing multiple races in a meet. put in all your energy like it's your only race instead of stressing about future races.
Thea
5 months ago.
Hi, I'm 15 and my 100 is in the 2 minute range and my coach wants me to start swimming 100s in meets more. My big issues is controlling my breathing after I turn (I do flip turns and average three strokes per breath before I do the first turn, and then I usually breath every stroke). I really want to improve and move up on my team so I'll actually be of some help rather than a place holder to make sure someone else doesn't get last
Swimoutlet.com
5 months ago.
Hi Thea!
The less you breathe while taking strokes, the more time you can save overall. Try to swim more strokes between breathes than you currently are, building up during practices. It's also a good idea to swim longer than 100 during practice. This will make it easier for you to do your 100 freestyle because your body will have more endurance.
ray
5 months ago.
I'm fifteen and my time is a 1:15 but everybody else in my level is :58ish how can I reach that time? I take long strokes and everything,
Swimoutlet.com
5 months ago.
Hi Ray!
In order to improve your freestyle time you really do need time to switch up your work outs to get more power. Video recording yourself and then finding what you can improve on helps as well.
Ads
6 months ago.
Sir, My son is swimming regularly for past 4 years. he is 11 years old now, but skinny. But he is still not upto the mark. his 50 m backstrock timing is 43 seconds. We are vegetarians. please advise me whether my son wouldd be able to make up in competitions. We are too frustrated. The coach only says no stamina. What to do. Please advise. We are feeling too low and very frustrated. morning 2 hours and evening 2 hours of practice and still no results.

A frustrated parent
Swimoutlet.com
6 months ago.
Hello!
It sounds like he need some type of strength training to enhance his technique and power. Due to his diet, we feel it is best to consult his physician to see what would be best for him. We hope this helps.
Gus
7 months ago.
I swim a 100 free long course soon and I have a goal in mind, but it seems like I have to go my personal best in the 50 free to do it. Last time I held my breath like that in a 100 free I died the last 50. How should I swim this first 50?
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hi Gus,
We recommend taking it easy towards the beginning of your race and speeding up towards the end, this way you won't wear out as easily.
Anonymous
7 months ago.
Hi I am 13 years old and I am trying to get a 59 in my 100 free. The 3 main things I have trouble with are dolphin kicks, breathing, and keeping my arms bent. I really need help with my arm technique. Any tips?
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hello!
We actually have another forum on this technique. It offers tips and a video, you can view it here https://www.swimoutlet.com/guides/how-to-swim-bent-arm-freestyle
SarahT
3 months ago.
Hi! I have the same issue with my times, i'm 14 and trying to get 58/57 on my 100 free SC and my coach recommends doing 4 fly kicks (count them during the race) even if its hard to breathe and don't breathe the first 2-3 strokes off the wall. I tend to flail my arms around but you can improve this by asking your coach to do more technical drills in practice. A good drill is doing a two-hand-touch drill in freestyle where for each stroke you touch your shoulder and then the middle of your cap. this drill helps with keeping your elbow bent and hand position. Good luck!
Sophia
8 months ago.
I am 15 and for SCM I swim a 1:12.06. In the next 3 weeks, I need to get under a 1:07.00 for Tri County. It may not seem like a "big" meet but I've been working for it for 7 years and my coach expects me to qualify this year. Please help!
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hellp Sophia,
Most importantly, try to release the pressure you are feeling and relax. One of the most helpful things you can do if you don't know where your weaknesses are is to have someone video tape you while you are swimming. Once you find out where you can improve, you can work on those issues. Good luck :)
Joy
8 months ago.
Hello!! I'm 11 years old and I have a 1:04. I really want the bonus sectional time so I want to get at least a 1:02. I try so hard, but in the end I always die completely on the last 50. Help?
SwimOutlet.com
8 months ago.
Along with the advice from above, it sounds like you need to worm on building endurance. Your endurance is only as strong as your weakest muscles to make sure to switch up your strokes to work out different sets of muscles. Having a powerful kick is also going to make a big difference to make sure to incorporate swimming witha kickboard. It's best to practice with a kickboard toward the end of your wokrout. Good old fashioned running is a great way to build up endurance, especially on days when you can't make it to the pool. Lastly, get plenty of sleep and make sure to rest! If you train every day, your overall intensity will decrease over time due to exhaustion. Work one day of rest into your schedule.
Devin Anderson
8 months ago.
Hi I am 15 and have 101.7 for my long course 100 and coach said I need to get a 57.99 or a champ time by the middle of July, could you recommend me any exercises. I think the biggest struggle for me is my breathing habits so if you could recommend something for that it would be much appreciated.
swimoutlet.com
8 months ago.
Hi Devin!
The less you breathe while taking strokes, the more time you can save overall. If you take a breath every 3 strokes during practice, try taking a breath every 5 or 7 instead. It's also a good idea to swim longer than 100 during practice. This will make it easier for you to do your 100 freestyle because your body will have more endurance. It's also a good idea to video yourself swimming during practice so you can make sure that your turns, finish ect are good or if they need improvement.
Marko
8 months ago.
I go a 1:05.90 in LCM and need to go a 1:03.99 to qualify for zones, I breath every other stroke, I take 3 dolphin kicks of the turn, I have a minor gallop in my stroke, and I hold back a little at the start to save for a fast finish. How can I drop? Thank you!
Swimoutlet.com
8 months ago.
Hello Marko!
In order to improve your time you really do need to switch up your work outs. Maybe add workouts outside of the water to build up stamina.
Anonymous
11 months ago.
I am 12 and go a low 1:07 and I need to go 1:05 or 1:04 in 3 or 4 days...please help
Swimoutlet.com
10 months ago.
Hello!
In order to improve your freestyle time you really do need time to switch up your work outs. To drop time in a few days, try doing things like eliminating as much drag as you possibly can (such as body/head position).
Sierra Tice
12 months ago.
I'm 12 and go a 1:05.0 LCM 100 free, by the end of LC this year I need to go a 1:01.5. I feel like I have reached a plateau and I can't get over it! Help
swimoutlet.com
10 months ago.
Hi Sierra! In general, when people plateau during training (whether its a sport or general fitness) it is usually suggested to switch up your workout so your muscles don't get used to the same thing. Since you are so young we are not sure if it would pertain to you, but maybe different drills, adding different exercises out of the water, etc. We also recommend you ask your coach.
sydney
1 year ago.
I have heard that swimming more than a 100 during practice and swimming it fast will help you go faster in your 100 free because your body will build up an endurance and you will physically be able to go faster in your 100.
Kyle Johnson
1 year ago.
I am 14 years old i currently have a 52 100 free and would like to go a 49 by the end of the season. I frequently drop time. Are there any techniques i should try to focus on?
Johnny
1 year ago.
Making sure your technique doesn't get sloppy when you're tired.
Sarah T
1 year ago.
Hi, I just turned 13 and my 100 free time is 1:04 and i need to get down to a 1:02 or 1:01. All of my friends who are 12 are faster than me and we do the same routines. Any tips?
James
1 year ago.
If you have a video or image of your race, see where your weakness is (i.e turns, finish, pushing through the laps, or not slowing down, start) then work by emphasizing those areas during practice and drylands
Sierra Tice
12 months ago.
For me, I had trouble breaking 1:03 (SCY) when I was 11 for the longest time. One race my coach told me to sprint the first 50 like it was the 50free and then hang on to the 3rd 25, and bring it home the final length. After this, I broke a minute that very race! (Granted, I'm a dead cold sprinter) this really works!
Emily Hines
1 year ago.
I have been in swim team for more than 12 years and I can swim 50 meters of freestyle in 30.23 seconds. My team loves to call me the beast because I have the fastest butterfly score in all our meets, but I would love to learn about how I could get faster...any tips?
Anaia
1 year ago.
I can go 29 and I'm 12... I always video myself and watch myself. Try to focus on turns, starts, and finishes, and you'll shave off lots of time.
Anonymous
1 year ago.
I swim a 1:07 and need to get my time down to a 1:06.90 what do I do to get that fraction faster.
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Along with the advice from above, I would recommend working on your breathing pattern. The less you breathe while taking strokes, the more time you can save overall. If you take a breath every 3 strokes during practice, try taking a breath every 5 or 7 instead. You should practice this breathing pattern before your race. This method will train your body to swim longer with less air. After enough practice, you will be able to more easily swim a 100 free while taking less breaths. If you are swimming a short course race, I would try taking 1 breath in the first lap, 2 breaths in the second, 4 in the third, and 3 breaths in the last lap. However, if you feel that you really need to breathe, it's okay to take an extra breath! Another tip I have is to keep a strong kick. Most swimmers tend to focus on the power coming from their arms when they swim and end up dragging their feet along. Remember to kick hard and fast throughout the entire race to give you an extra boost!
nick kyrigos
2 years ago.
great info for my 10 year old daughter she was really worried about her race and she came first racing all the hard people! thank you guys so much:)
Jason Durilo
2 years ago.
When they say to be relaxed it is so true. I am 12 years old and have been swimming for 6 years. Some poeple may have been swimming for longer but what I have sound is on events that I am focusing on too much or go slower on one event to save energy for the event you are erring stressed about it is not the way to go. When you just relax and not wiry you will do well. And just a quick tip when people say to sprint the whole thing because it's just a 100 free you need to go fast the first 25 and then still go fast on your second 25 but slow down a little but still go on a fast pace. On your ending 50 because you have a little more energy you should go faster then you first 25 on your 3rd 25 and then on your last 25 go all out and sprint yourself out and kick! You will always do well If you stay relaxed and not be SUPER focused on that one event. Relax and make that time or beat your seed time. You will do well!
Jordan Kreitzman
2 years ago.
This is only my third year competively swimming, I currently have a 53 second 100 freestyle, I'd like to get it down to 51 in a short amount of time. Something I'd reccommend is rotating your hips when you stroke. As you lift your arm out of the water, lift your hip on that arm's side of your body as well, swimming too flat can slow you down.
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