This blog post is sponsored by KayakPro! Their SwimFast Ergometer is designed to help you build swimming specific strength and improve technique for more power and speed in the water. Shop now >

The 200 freestyle is a fan favorite swim race that challenges both your endurance and speed. Getting this race right is tough for beginners and experienced swimmers alike…it can feel like a sprint and a distance race rolled into one!

If you’re struggling to maintain your speed through to the end of the race, or you need guidance for your first swim meet, you’re in the right place! Learn our go-to strategy for swimming the 200 freestyle, and check out our favorite swim workout to put your 200 pace to the test.

How to Swim the 200 Freestyle

When you’re racing, don’t think of the 200 free as one chunk of swimming. Instead, break it into four 50s, following this plan: 

  • 1st 50: Find your stroke rhythm & breathing pattern. Focus on easy speed…don’t burn out on the first 50!
  • 2nd 50: Build stroke tempo, start kick
  • 3rd 50: Work the walls, ramp up your kick
  • 4th 50: Maintain body position & tempo. Finish strong!

When looking at your splits for a 200 free, try to maintain a time difference of no more than 10% between your first 50 and the following three 50s. That means if you swim your first 50 in 30 seconds, you should aim to split 32-33 seconds for the rest of the race. 

Related: How to Break 1 Minute in the 100 Freestyle

If you aren’t able to maintain that 10% (or less) spread between splits, it may be a sign that you’re starting out too fast, and not setting yourself up for a solid finish. 

Pro Tips for a Faster 200 Free

Refine your technique and stay consistent with your training to see the most speed gains in your 200 free! Here’s how.

1. Technique

Try these drills to improve your rotation, balance and feel for the water. Build a foundation of good technique so you maintain efficiency and don’t fall apart when you get tired. We recommend incorporating drills into your warmup and/or dedicating lower-volume training sessions to drills and skills!

Single Arm Freestyle

Bow & Arrow

Zipper Drill

2. Swim Training

Related: The 5 Worst Breathing Mistakes Swimmers Make

When it comes to training for the 200 freestyle in a pool, focus on these three things to build well-rounded fitness and feel good during the race:

  1. Breathing Pattern: We have found that most swimmers feel the best when they breathe every two strokes. If you prefer to breathe every three or four, do it! What matters is finding a breathing pattern that feels good and sticking to it, no matter what!
  2. Rhythm: Your breathing pattern and kick play into your stroke rhythm, which is super important in a race like the 200. When your rhythm is on point, you’re able to maintain a strong tempo for the whole race. 
  3. Anaerobic & Aerobic Training: It’s important to vary your training to both build your aerobic base and work on speed and power. Think of aerobic sets as longer sets that aren’t 100% effort. They’ll help you build endurance. Anaerobic training is more sprint focused. Think high-effort sets with more rest. For help balancing aerobic and anaerobic training, try a personalized Training Plan in the MySwimPro app!

3. Dryland Training

Swimming is certainly important when you’re focused on swimming a faster 200 freestyle, but don’t forget about dryland training! We’ve been loving the KayakPro SwimFast Ergometer for swimming-specific strength training:

  • Variable resistance settings: Work on tempo with lower resistance, or build strength with Hi-Resistance bands.
  • Work on freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly pull technique: Full and half-palm hand paddles help improve hand position.
  • Progress with a plan: KayakPro just released a 9-week training program specifically for the SwimFast to help you build strength and power.

The SwimFast is a great complement to your swim training, and you’ll get a good workout in just 15 minutes per day. Some swimmers have experienced 25% increases in their power output after just four weeks! Learn more about the SwimFast Ergometer here >

Try This 200 Pace Swim Workout

Ready to challenge your 200 pace? Try this advanced workout. Find it in the MySwimPro app and get fully personalized intervals and coaching based on your speed and skill level.

  • Distance: 4,500 meters/yards
  • Duration: 90 minutes


  • 1 x 400 Freestyle @ 6:00
  • 8 x 50 Kick @ 1:00
  • 6 x 50 Drill @ 1:10 with Fins, Snorkel & Paddles (2×50 Single Arm Freestyle, 2×50 Bow & Arrow, 2×50 Zipper Drill)

Pre Set (2x)

  • 2 x 75s Free @ 1:10
  • 4 x 75s Free @ 1:05
  • 2 x 75s Free @ 1:00
  • 1 x 100 IM @ 2:00

Main Set (1x)

For this set, determine your goal 200 pace for a 50. You’ll add or subtract time from that goal pace to determine your goal time for the sets of 50s in this set. 

  • 1 x 300 Pull @ 4:00 with Paddles & Buoy
  • 8 x 50 Freestyle @ :45 @ 200 pace +2
  • 1 x 100 Freestyle Easy @ 2:00
  • 6 x 50 Freestyle @ :55 @ 200 pace +1
  • 1 x 100 Freestyle Easy @ 2:00
  • 4 x 50 Freestyle @ 1:05 @ 200 pace
  • 1 x 100 Freestyle Easy @ 2:00
  • 2 x 50 Freestyle @ 1:15 @ 200 pace -1
  • 1 x 100 Freestyle Easy @ 2:00
  • 1 x 50 Freestyle @ 1:30 @ 200 pace -2

Cool Down

5 x 50 Freestyle @ :50

Let us know in the comments if you try this workout, or if you have any tips for conquering the 200 freestyle! For more workouts like this one, download the MySwimPro app and start your personalized Training Plan! 

Get your own KayakPro SwimFast Ergometer here >

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