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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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Robbie
9 months ago.
I am going into my senior year of HS, and my 100 SCY Free has been stuck at a 1:00.01 since I was a freshman. I have had my spot in the 4x100 Free Relay snatched the last two years just before state. I am trying to get my time down around a 55 that way I can guarantee that I hold a spot on the relay for my senior year. Any tips? My 50 SCY Free is a 26.56, and my 50 splits on the 100 tend to be 27 and 33. How do I fix that back half?
SwimOutlet
9 months ago.
Hi Robbie!

Please refer here - https://www.usms.org/fitness-and-training/articles-and-videos/articles/three-secrets-to-swimming-faster
Austin Shadinger
10 months ago.
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Austin Shadinger
10 months ago.
I'm 12 and I have a 29.5 in the 50 free. My 100 free is a 1:06. Do you have any tips on not slowing down on the 2nd 50?
Emma
6 months ago.
make sure to build up your leg strength so you can keep powering your legs the second 50, and make sure to breathe on the first 25, not getting enough air really slows down your second 50. Just be sure to get that easy speed that keeps you sailing.
Michelle
11 months ago.
Hey i am 11 and my 50 free time is 34.02 and my 100 free is 1.24 i really need helps to get to 50 free 28.02 and 100 free 1.04
SwimOutlet
11 months ago.
Hi Michelle!

Improving your speed means that you need to improve your techniques by decreasing your drag, improving your balance, kick and propulsion. Swimming on your side would also help. Use a high-elbow position, a two-beat kick, and do not overreach with your recovering arm for freestyle. Then the most important is do not put on the brakes.
Pragyan Sinha
1 year ago.
I have a 59.91 on my 100 freestyle and I’m looking to drop down to a 56-57. I have a 26.44 on my 50 free so I should be able to make at least a 57 or 58 but I usually go a minute.
joel
5 days ago.
same for my 100 fly :(( i do 27s on my first 50 and ended up swimming a 1:01.66 at the end
Ayrton
1 year ago.
Hello, my name is Ayrton. During my 100m freestyle, I'm afraid of going out with the group and end up for my first 50 going 33 and then have a hard time coming back on the last 50. Even though I'm not a freestyler I still try to swim a satisfactory time for my age group which would be around 1:05-1:03. Right now my time is 1:07 and I would like to drop some time any extra tips you can give me?
Ayrton
4 months ago.
I now go a 1:03.57 (LCM) I tend to go out 29 and come back 34. Any tips for a better back half?
sloan pratt
1 year ago.
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sloan pratt
1 year ago.
hi!my name is sloan and i’m 12 i go a 27.18 for my 50 freestyle and a 1.02 for my 100 freestyle.i struggle a lot in the 100 because i sprint the first 50 to fast and the get tired for the last 50.my goal is to get a 59 or one min. Any tips on what i can do?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Sloan!

Training! You need to improve your technique and your cardio fitness. You could add weight training to your regimen, but swimming is all about technique, not strength. First thing you need to do is find 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 then refer to the above blog and use those tips.
Ella
1 year ago.
Hi I’m 12 and my 100 free has been a 1.04 for a while now and I’m really stuck and I’ve tried all your ways have you got any other options ?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Ella!

It has been estimated that more than half of one's success in sprint swimming is dependent upon upper body strength. Increasing arm strength in the pool can be done with this type of training: 10 to 20 times 25 yard sprints with 30 seconds rest, or 5 to 10 times 50 yard sprint with 1 to 2 minutes rest Though we recognize that arm strength is only one of the determinants of success in swimming, it is one that the factors that can be improved with a well-designed training program.

Read more at: https://www.swimoutlet.com/guides/how-to-improve-your-100-free-time
Piper
1 year ago.
Hi,
I'm 15 and I've only been swimming for about a month and a half. I have a 31.59 sec 50 free, but a 1:20.43 for my 100 free. Anyway I can drop 5 seconds to get to at least a 1:15? Thanks!
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi! The drag you create in the water needs to be reduced by improving your balance. This means that you try to stay as horizontal as possible while moving through the water. When you do this, you disrupt the smallest amount of water molecules on your way, resulting in reduced drag.
Taegen
1 year ago.
Hi My name is Taegen , I currently go 1:00:91 for my 100 free and need 1:00:33 for my qualifying time , I would like to take off 1 second to be safe , how can I achieve this
Lila
1 year ago.
Hi,
My current 100 free time is 1:11:95 and to achieve the States competition for my team I need 1:06. What should I do to improve that score?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Lila! The drag you create in the water needs to be reduced by improving your balance. This means that you try to stay as horizontal as possible while moving through the water. When you do this, you disrupt the smallest amount of water molecules on your way, resulting in reduced drag.
Rachel
1 year ago.
As of now I go a 1:04.64 in the 100 SCY and I need to get to a 1:02.55 by next season to advance on. Any workout tips when I can only swim two to three times a week?
Rachel
1 year ago.
I am not saying my age because you probably don't care but right now I go a 1:04.64 in the 100 SCY free and to advance on next season I need to go a 1:02.55. Do you have any training tips when I can only swim two to three times a week?
Alex
1 year ago.
Hi, I just went under a minute in the 100 free! Just asking, what is a good game plan so I can go faster? Also, could you name some things I could do to improve?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Alex!

It has been estimated that more than half of one's success in sprint swimming is dependent upon upper body strength. Increasing arm strength in the pool can be done with this type of training:

10 to 20 times 25 yard sprints with 30 seconds rest, or
5 to 10 times 50 yard sprint with 1 to 2 minutes rest

Though we recognize that arm strength is only one of the determinants of success in swimming, it is one that the factors that can be improved with a well-designed training program.
Joe
1 year ago.
Hey, I'm Joe and the last time I swam the 100 free was about 3 months ago. I have been playing water polo and haven't been able to time my 100 free, but know it's about around a 58-59 range. I need to break a 55 second to get onto varsity swim at my high school, and was wondering if I could try doing anything not listed in the article to try and improve my time.

Thanks!
Syd
1 year ago.
Hi I’m Syd, I’m 52 years old. I want to swim a sub 60 second 100M Free. I used to be able to swim it in 57.xx when I was 16. Now I am hovering around 60/61 seconds. Yesterday I went 60.xx (from a push) in a 25M pool. My splits according to my watch were 12/15/15/18. Of course those are all rounded off. Clearly I have a problem with my back quarter. My arms tense up so hard I lose all “feel” for the water and it feels like I am just clawing my way through the last 25. How should I train to prevent this from happening?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Syd!

In swimming, you’re constantly using the muscles that surround your arm pit. Every pull you take — for all four strokes — uses these muscles which include your triceps, lats, and various shoulder muscles. Make sure you stretch them out really well. Here’s how: 1. Place your right hand behind your head, and point your elbow straight up. 2. Take your left hand and place it on your right elbow. 3. Pull your right elbow inward with your left hand. 4. Hold this position. Then switch arms, and repeat. Wall Press for Your Front Shoulder The front of your shoulder is always a hard place to stretch. The wall press is a great way to access those hard to reach muscles. Follow these steps for a good wall press: 1. Place your right hand on a wall at shoulder height. Place your palm on the wall so your thumb is facing upward. 2. Slightly bend your right elbow. 3. Twist your body to your left — away from the wall. 4. Hold this position. Then switch arms, and repeat.
Taegen
1 year ago.
Join the discussion...
Taegen
1 year ago.
Hi I’m Taegen , I currently do the 100 meter freestyle In a 1:04:63 and need to come down to a 1:00:33 in the next 4 months how can I achieve this
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Taegen!

The key is doing the right techniques to reduce the drag, kicks and drill workouts for balance and propulsion, keep your body as horizontal as possible so that water goes around your body maximizing your speed and slightly spread your fingers.
Taegen
1 year ago.
Hi I’m 14 and I currently have a 1:04:46 for my 100 meter freestyle race and I need to get down to a 1:00:33 ,, how can I achieve this in a matter of 4 months
coltan
1 year ago.
Hi im 11 and right now i have a 1:15 in my 100 LCM free. I am hoping to get down to 1:06 so I can qualify for zones. Is there any way I can do that?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Coltan!

Improving your speed means that you need to improve your techniques by decreasing your drag, improving your balance, kick and propulsion. Swimming on your side would also help. Use a high-elbow position, a two-beat kick, and do not overreach with your recovering arm for freestyle. Then the most important is do not put on the brakes.
Joshua Frank
1 year ago.
I started swimming freshman year for the highschool team then sophomore year I joined a club team in October. I was getting good then I took a 4 month break now I’m bad again. My fastest 50 free was a 27.46 and my fastest 100 free was a 1:04.50 before I stopped. Now I got back into swimming and I’m wondering realistically how I can get to a 20.9 50 free and 44.89 100 free by next season during recruiting season so I can get the school records and possibly get s scholarship to a D1 school like Texas.
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Joshua! Conrngratulations on getting 50yd in just 27.46 and 100yd in 1:05.50. Of course you can do better than that! The first thing you need to do is find out which areas you could improve on in. You can ask your coach or team mates, or have someone video tape you while you swim the 50 and 100 so you can watch it back yourself. Once you find where your weak points are, you can refer to the "How to improve your 100-Meter freestyle time and use those tips. Good luck Joshua! You can do it!
Aaron Martin
1 year ago.
A drop of that scale is literally impossible
nick
1 year ago.
Hi ! I am 17 years old I have personal best 53.8 at LMC but this year at the winter championship I swam 54.7 , later on the season I swam at a 25m. pool 52.7 -in training ( and not the best flip turns). How big is my potential for the summer champioship , where should I aim , what should I fix?
Aoife
2 years ago.
Hey, I’m kinda stuck in a rut, my time for 100 free has stayed at 1:26 scm for a year now, how do I achieve my goal of 1:15?
SwimOutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hi Aoife,

The best thing to do is work with your coach on your swim process. Watch videos of your favorite swimmers and observe the techniques they use. Apply it to your swim practice and track your progress. Also, you can use the visualization technique, wherein you mentally count your swim for 100 yards of freestyle even when you are not in the water. Overtime, you will recognize the pace you need to adopt to in order to achieve your 1:15 goal.
Paije
2 years ago.
Hi, I am 12 years old and I have been swimming over a year now. I just had my Championship meet yesterday and I dropped 10 seconds on my 100 free and got a 1:33 but I want to beat the record of 53 seconds I have until next March. any tips
SwimOutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hi Paije,

One thing you can do is while in training, visualize your technique even when you are not in the water. Click your watch over to stopwatch mode and close your eyes. Start the watch and mentally swim 100 yards of freestyle. Think about every stroke, breath, turn and kick. Stop the watch when you are finished. Try to mentally swim your average race pace.
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