This Whiteboard Wednesday is a deep dive on how to pace and swim a middle-distance swimming event. In this video, we overview how to swim the 200 Freestyle and 400 Freestyle so you can maximize your potential in the event.

How To Swim The 200 or 400 Freestyle:

PART 1: Easy speed, conserve your energy and slowly start building your speed.

PART 2: Build your legs and set up your pace. The goal is to even split the last 3 parts.

PART 3: Push hard and increase your tempo. You’ll want to “make your move” which will help keep your body on top of the water.

PART 4: Increase and maintain your tempo so you can give it all you’ve got until the end of your race.

Related: Analyzing Katie Ledecky’s Freestyle Technique

In swimming these middle-distance events, there are three core race strategies you can practice:

  1. Start Strong – Focus energy on your first 100 freestyle
  2. Negative Split – Go out easy, but push it hard on the second half
  3. Even Split –  Hold the same time for each 50 in the last 3 parts of your event

Mid-Distance Training Tips:

Train with purpose: Focus on training your body to swim fast.

200 stroke technique: Discover more power in your hips and your legs, as opposed to upper-body sprint events.

Train legs all season: You need to train your kick in speed, technique and endurance all season long.

Race frequently: Get used to understanding your race pace and keeping your technique consistent

Define your breathing style: Whatever your pattern is, stick with it so you can remain consistent. We recommend 1 breath for every 2 strokes.

Middle-Distance Freestyle Workout Idea:

  • 8 x 50 Freestyle @ 0:55
  • 1 x 100 Easy Freestyle
  • 6 x 50 Freestyle @ 1:00
  • 1 x 100 Easy Freestyle
  • 4 x 50 Freestyle @ 1:05
  • 1 x 100 Easy Freestyle
  •  2 x 50 Freestyle @ 1:10
  • 1 x 100 Easy Freestyle
  • 1 x 50 Freestyle FAST!

Listen to this episode on SoundCloud:

How World-Record Holder Katie Ledecky Swims The 400 Freestyle:

Katie is absolutely amazing at this event. She is consistently faster than everyone else in her heats, and she’s known to even split her events.

Katie Ledecky 2016 WR 400m Free: 3:56.46 USA

How The Pros Swim:

Federica Pellegrini 2009 WR 200m Free: 1:52.98 ITALY

Paul Biedermann 2009 WR 200m Free: 1:42.00 GERMANY

Paul Biedermann 2009 WR 400m Free 3:40.07 GERMANY

Freestyle Training Plans

A training plan is a critical component to the success of reaching your goals in swimming! The MySwimPro app has Freestyle-specific training plans that range from beginner to advanced. Checkout a few highlights below:

4-Week Beginner Freestyle

The Beginner Freestyle Fundamentals Plan is designed for swimmers looking to improve their technical efficiency in the water. It’s a fantastic plan to be first introduced to structured training.

Beginner Freestyle Plan Overview:

  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • Workouts: 8
  • Average Workout: 800 meters = 25 minutes
  • Goal: Improve freestyle efficiency

Who’s it for? You know how to swim, but need help on the fundamentals: streamline, rotation, breathing, and improving overall stroke efficiency.

How does it work? Try to complete 2 workouts per week for 4 weeks. Each workout lasts between 15-30 minutes.

8-Week Improve Endurance

The 8-Week Improve Endurance Plan is designed for swimmers that want to improve their technique and aerobic capacity, and to feel confident swimming mid-level distances.

  • Duration: 8 Weeks
  • Workouts: 24
  • Average Workout: 2,000 meters = 55 minutes
  • Goal: Complete a 3,000 workout at the end of 8 weeks

Who’s it for? You already swim a few times per week and ready to take the next step to improve your efficiency and endurance. After 8 weeks, you’ll complete a 3k workout!

How does it work? Complete 3 workouts per week for 8 weeks. Each workout lasts between 30-45 minutes. Every other week, you’ll test your endurance with a series of short rest 100s on an interval.

Sculling videos

These plans are available exclusively in the MySwimPro App. Download the app on iPhone and Android and get your free 30-day trial of ELITE COACH today.

Happy training!




    Hey, Thanks for sharing whiteboard
    Could you be so kind in explaning the Midel-distance freestyle workout idea??
    Sorry for my writing I am from Mexico, we speak spanish

    • Yes, here you go! 🙂
      Middle-Distance Freestyle Workout Idea:
      8 x 50 Freestyle @ 0:55
      1 x 100 Easy Freestyle
      6 x 50 Freestyle @ 1:00
      1 x 100 Easy Freestyle
      4 x 50 Freestyle @ 1:05
      1 x 100 Easy Freestyle
      2 x 50 Freestyle @ 1:10
      1 x 100 Easy Freestyle
      1 x 50 Freestyle FAST!

  2. I’m swimming the 200 today (I’m 11) and my time is a 2:38 i really want to bring it down!!!!! Can someone give me some more advice?

  3. You say ‘pick a breathing pattern’……. Using the 200 Free event as an example; would you just breathe every other stroke for the entire event?? Or for example, swim the first 50 breathing every 4th (single-arm) stroke, the second 50 breathing every 3rd (single arm) stroke, and the final 100 breathing every other stroke???? Or is that not practical/sustainable under pressure??

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