Swimming faster backstroke is all about balancing technique, speed and power with a killer race strategy.
Learn our top training tips to improve your backstroke tempo, speed and efficiency, shave off extra seconds and achieve a new personal best time. Plus, try our go-to backstroke challenge workout to put your stroke to the test!
Breaking Down the 100 Backstroke
Before we dive into how to improve your 100 backstroke time, let’s break down the race. Whether you swim short course or long course, think of the 100 back as four 25s:
- 1st 25: Smooth sailing, easy tempo (not easy, slow swimming, but easy speed)
- 2nd 25: Start to increase stroke tempo, build to the end of the first 50
- 3rd 25: Push the underwaters and maintain stroke tempo
- 4th 25: Maintain body position and technique, and increase tempo. Give it all you’ve got!
When you look at race splits for a 100 backstroke race, shoot for no more than 2-3 seconds between your first 50 split and your second 50 split. For example, if you swim your first 50 in 45 seconds and your second 50 in 52 seconds, that’s a sign that you are going out way too fast on the first 50 and your technique may be falling apart in the second half of the race.
If you can stick to the above race plan, you’re more likely to set new personal best times!
How to Swim a Faster 100 Backstroke
Dropping time in your 100 backstroke comes down to two things: Stellar technique and focused training.
Related: 5 Common Backstroke Mistakes
To improve your backstroke technique, you need to dedicate time to backstroke-specific drills. Check out four of our favorites, and learn how they improve your stroke!
3 Strokes + 12 Kicks (Rotation focus)
Single Arm Backstroke (Rotation focus)
Double Arm Backstroke (Balance & tempo)
Spin Drill (Tempo)
Backstroke Training Tips
Check out our recommendations for structuring backstroke-focused training sessions.
Underwater dolphin kick is often called the fifth stroke in swimming. Other than your start, you’ll never move any faster through the water than you will during streamline dolphin kick. And in a 100 backstroke, you have plenty of opportunities to use the dolphin kick off the wall to your advantage!
In training, don’t slack off on your underwaters. Practice taking the same number of dolphin kicks off each wall as you plan to in a race to build muscle memory and breath endurance.
Get comfortable dolphin kicking on your back, stomach and sides to build balance and good feel for the water in this position.
Volume & Speed
When building your backstroke training plan, consider the volume (amount of yards) of backstroke you’re doing, as well as the speed at which you’re swimming most of it. If you’re doing long backstroke sets with no speed variation, you won’t effectively train your body to maintain a strong tempo on race day.
Mix up your backstroke workouts with low-volume sets focused on speed and with longer sets that build endurance. Don’t focus on just one!
Adding equipment to your workouts introduces another layer of variation to your training that can help build strength and improve technique. Try adding paddles, fins and a pull buoy for added resistance, or to isolate the upper or lower body and hone your form.
Backstroke Technique Workout
Add this backstroke swim workout to your schedule to improve your speed and efficiency, especially in your underwaters. For more workouts like this, download the MySwimPro app and start your personalized Training Plan!
- Distance: 4,500 meters/yards
- Duration: 90 minutes
1 x 300 Freestyle @ 5:00
6 x 50 Kick, Streamline on Back with Fins @ 1:00
- Increase dolphin kicks by 25 (modify number of kicks for your skill level):
- 4, 5
- 5, 6
- 6, 7
- 7, 8
- 8, 9
- 9, 10
4 x 50 Backstroke Negative Split Stroke Count @ :55
- 6 dolphin kicks on first 25, 8 dolphin kicks on second 25
Main Set (2x)
1 x 300 Pull with Paddles @ 4:00
8 x 100 Backstroke @ 1:45
- 2 Rounds of the following:
- 1: 25 back, 50 free, 25 back
- 2: 50 free, 50 back
- 3: 50 back, 50 free
- 4: 100 back fast
1 x 100 Freestyle easy @ 2:00
Post Set (2x)
4 x 125 Backstroke with Fins @ 2:00
- Start with 6 dolphin kicks off the wall and add one kick per 25:
- 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
6 x 50 Freestyle Easy @ :50
What’s your favorite backstroke workout? Share in the comments! For more backstroke swim workouts and personalized Training Plans, download the MySwimPro app!