View Full Version : 200 Butterfly Strategy advice?

jim thornton
February 24th, 2002, 06:46 PM
I signed up for the 200 fly next Sunday and am wondering if anyone has some advice on how to swim this. My twin brother told me he swam it in college, and by the last length, he felt he was actually moving backwards. I'd like to avoid that if at all possible.

To get into shape for this, I've been doing a lot of 25's fly with 10-15 seconds rest. I started doing 8 at a time and have worked my way up to 40. Yesterday, I did 20 x 25s then 10 x 50 on a minute.


Pacing--reason would say to go out slow so you have something left for the second hundred, but I wonder if this is right. After all, you get tired either way, so maybe going out reasonably fast means you will end up with a better time (albeit a greater feeling of misery on the last length or two.) I'm not talking a sprint pace, but a reasonably fast clip. Or is this a recipe for disaster?

Stroke mechanics--does the fly need to be modified for a 200--i.e., not pulling all the way through, gliding longer, hand entry a bit wider than usual, etc. I've read that some people can swim a continuous mile butterfly, and I wonder if they are swimming the same stroke I do. It's hard to imagine...

I have only swum the 200 fly once--last year--and got a 2:30 on it. My 100 fly has improved this year (a 59.59 , the first time I've broken a minute since high school 31 years ago), and I am in better overall shape this year, so I am hoping to lower the 2:30 to at least a 2:25 (which would give me the Y age group record in our league.) Any advice from 200 flier veterans would be truly appeciated.

Thanks in advance for your words of wisdom.

Bert Petersen
February 25th, 2002, 01:44 AM
Finally a topic I know something about ! The dreaded 200 fly. By the way, I swam my last 200 fly at s/c Nationals last spring. At least, the last one in this galaxy and this lifetime. I say this to underscore that I will tell you the truth. 200 fly races are punishment for the unwary that have decided to try the finest stroke in swimming at an un-natural distance. O.K., enough editorializing; here's the skinny. First consideration - level of fitness and age. When I was 16 and in awesome shape, I swam it any darn way I wanted to. Totally fearless, since I knew I could always finish with style. That changes with advancing age and the sometimes spotty training regimens of adulthood. So-let's assume that you have a nagging distrust of that final 50 due to age or incomplete training. Fly requires a horizontal body position. Once that is lost, you are swimming up-hill. Gravity is a formidable enemy. Through the natural arrangement of our organs, the heart and lungs are located closer to the shoulder girdle and arms than the legs. It should come as no surprise that the first things to tire are the quads. This results in a dropping of the hips and tremendous extra pressure on the arms, shoulders and legs as well. Gravity always wins. Once that happens and you start swimming more vertically, all is lost. This is no fun, honestly, no fun at all. How to combat this ? Simple-save your legs for the end, when you will really need them. You must learn to kick what I call " fast and easy ". No-not a contradiction; fast is the turnover rate, easy is the amount of muscle power applied. A 200 fly is not normally swum with a negative split, but you can approach that goal by saving your legs on the first 100. Start to build the kick on the 3rd 50 and kick your brains out going home. Works for me......... wrong ! Worked for me. Stroke rate, breathing patterns, style - these are different from 50 to 100 to 200....But now I begin to write a book, rather than a reply ! Truly I do wish you luck and good times. Just don't look for me in your 200 heat. ;) Bert

February 25th, 2002, 02:15 PM
I agree, Bert. Butterfly rules, but the 200 is scary. I welcome this discussion because the 200 fly just might be the one event I can become proficient at. I did 6X50 fly on :50 this morning and thought I would quit and switch to free for the last two, but I finished and despite feeling sick, also felt very good that I completed that set. I've heard that what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, but I don't know.
Any more advice on this subject will be helpful. I entered the St. Pat's meet in Atlanta, but didn't sign up for Saturday events that included the 200 cause I just didn't feel confident yet.
And Bert, you were right about the quads giving out. On the 6 50's this morning mine were aching on the last one like I haven't felt before.

Philip Arcuni
February 25th, 2002, 02:33 PM
oh god, I am not the one to respond, but I will anyway. Take it as a cautionary tale.

Last December I swam a 200 SCM fly. I went out in a 1:05 and came back in a 1:22 . I remember the guy next to me pass me on the last length like I was standing still. So all I seem to know about that event is how much it hurts, and how I can't seem to pace it.

That time I swam it above I tried to have long underwater pushoffs from the wall with lots of kick. The justification was that what quits on me is the arms. They just shut down and won't go around. I was hoping that by minimising their use things would be better at the end, but it did not work. Maybe the (opposite) advice of Bert is better.

What worked for me when I had lots of time in the water was training almost totally in fly. When others did free, I did the sets in fly. I can't do that anymore . . .

Best of luck. I think it is the true 'tough guy' event, despite what the breastrokers and backstrokers and 1650 freestylers say.

Steve Ruiter
February 25th, 2002, 03:59 PM
I don't know how many 200 fly races I have swum in my life, but I think it would be over 100, including age group and USMS.

I even finished all but one of them legally (that one is another story).

Here is my advice...

1. Train a lot of legal fly. Do legal, two armed fly, and legal turns. Or if you are not going to do it legal, do it very illegal so you don't confuse yourself. (I need to take this advice). There is a lot of room for drills, but differentiate between the drills and whole stroke.

2. Train shorter distances fly until you can do longer distances. In college I would do lots of 200 flys in practice because I could. Now I don't think its that important to do 200's in practice, but 100's should be in you training mix. An occasional 200 in training is important to let you know you will make it in a race.

3. As for pacing, most people die in the 200 fly. Somehow you have to find out how you can do the first 100 easy and quick without expending too much energy. I find that I tend to over-exert in the first 100. You may find that going "easy" for the first 100 may only be a second slower, and that energy you save may make your second 100 much faster. This you will need to experiment to figure out.

4. The second half of the race depends on what kind of shape you are in. Try to keep your stroke together on the third 50, and then give it all youve got on the last 50.


February 25th, 2002, 08:05 PM
Thanks for posing this question. We're getting a lot of good advice here and I'm actually getting psyched up to attempt another 200 sometime soon, maybe even in practice.
I used to watch my daughter swim the 200 meter fly and her stroke was just as pretty at the finish as the beginning, but it's much more relevent to hear from those closer to my age relate their experiences. Thank you, all.

February 26th, 2002, 08:07 AM
Take the first hundred easy and really focus on breathing - full exhalations underwater, suck in all you can above water. In a two hundred Fly, the name of the game is staving off Oxygen deprevation.

Many butterfliers may not realize how small the amounts of air they get while swimming. Try focusing on breathing in practice, you will be amazed.


Matt S
February 26th, 2002, 03:24 PM
I aspire to be a 200 flyer. My goal is to learn the stroke well enough that I can go 200 yards without needing the EMTs to get me out of the water at the end. The cold reality is that I rarely break 3:00, and I have to ruthlessly hold myself back the 1st half of the race to finish at all. That is all a long winded way of saying I am a mere mortal who cannot rely on genetics or killer conditioning to power through a 200; I have to rely on cunning and guile to fool my body into completing a 200.

1st concept: Oxygen Management
I have finished a 200 fly breathing every other stroke, and oxygen debt was the key limiting factor. But, then I watched carefully the older (60+) swimmers who did the 200 fly at Nationals. Every one of them was breathing more often than that. I think one key to the 200 may be finding a way to keep your hips up and your stroke mechanics together while breathing more often than every other stroke. In a similar vein, a teammate recommended to me long, slow turns at every wall. (She said people have accused her of taking a cigarette break on her turns in the 200.) It was a life saver for me. Take a good, legal two hand touch, then grab the gutter (even if it is several inches higher that the water level), and take two full breaths while you slowly swing your legs under you towards the wall. Will you lose a few tenths at each turn? Sure, but is this a sprint, or are you trying to hang onto the race?

2nd concept: Short Axis Pulse (SAP)
Emmett Hines has written an excellent article about using an SAP to generate propulsion in the fly. (You can find it at the H2Ouston Swims web site, in the articles tab, under the title "Slip Slid'n' Away") I am currently trying to rebuild my fly around an SAP technique using Total Immersion concepts. I have not tried it out yet in competition, but I am able to go much longer fly distances in practice with less strain than before. My goal is to build a fly that I could do continuously without having to stop, much in the same way most USMS swimmers can do freestyle.

3rd concept: How Much Fly in Workout
Before swimming my most successful 200 fly in competition, I did build myself up for it doing 200 fly in practice. (First I would do a 200 straight through, then a series of broken 200's in the following sequence: 125-75, 100-50-50, 50-50-50-25-25.) Obviously, there was some conditioning going on there, but I was focusing on getting myself to throttle down, as it were, to a 200 pace, and building my confidence in my ability to go 200. After that, I not only expected to finish the 200, I expected it would not be much harder than a 200 free. Well, I did finish, but the piano still landed on my back the last 50. Doing significant fly distance in practice is one school of thought. Another school of thought is doing less fly in workout, but doing it all very well. This is the TI argument that doing too much "butter-struggle" only trains you to struggle through fly in your races. Thus, the theory holds that you should only do as much fly as you can do well so you only practice good mechanics. Get your conditioning from other sets in the workout. I am tending to follow the latter theory lately.

These are all some random thoughts. If you are in your 20's, and you can power through a 200 fly, and you are trying to formulate a pacing strategy not much different from your 200 free strategy...Good Luck me boy. You're a better swimmer than I, and you need no advice from me. But, if like me merely finishing a 200 fly is not a trivial exercise, I hope I have given you some food for thought.


February 26th, 2002, 03:44 PM
Since I have only recently returned to the pool, I cannot even begin to think about swimming the 200 Butterfly. I am still trying to persuade myself to swim the 100 next month. But, I did swim the 200 Fly many times as a youth swimmer.

I think that keeping your body vertical is definitely a key to being able to finish the last 50. The reason that most people end up swimming 'standing up' in a 200 Butterfly is exhaustion as mentioned earlier. I think that the easiest way to manitain your form during the second 100 is to breathe every other stroke at a minimum. By keeping your head down on every other stroke, it is easier to keep your hips up and not drag your legs deeper under the surface. It may take parctice to be able to accomplish this feat, but it definitely makes a diferrence on the last 50.

Philip Arcuni
February 26th, 2002, 04:06 PM
I think I understand.

Breath lots the first 100, but breath every other stroke (or less often) for the second 100.

Yeah, right, in my dreams.

February 26th, 2002, 04:11 PM
The last time I watched, Tom Dolan breathed every stroke in the fly in his 400 IM. Of course, his hips didn't sink one bit.

Michael Heather
March 2nd, 2002, 01:34 AM
The 200 Fly is like a loaded weapon... respect it and treat it with care, or you are liable to get hurt.

I came out of college as a sprint butterflyer, and thought I would remain that way forever. As I got older, I found that a lot of other people in my age group had the same idea, so I went looking for a replacement event to keep me competitive in Nationals. The 200 Fly was a natural, since I already knew the stroke (a definite plus). All I had to do was figure out how to swim it without ending the last length with a piano on my back.

In the 1970's Steve Tallman was an aquaintance of mine, and I had the opportunity to watch him swim the 200 fly at Cleveland state during the NCAA championships in 1975. At the 150 in the championship heat, he was 2 full body lengths behind the entire heat, and ended up placing 3rd overall (some leads just can't be overcome). Remembering that, I decided to try the "coming on late" tactic, and figured that at worst, I don't go any faster, and I don't really get hurt swimming the event.

The first time I had an opportunity to try out my "new" tactic was, of course, at Long Course Nationals. There were only 8 people in my age group swimming the event, so if I didn't do anything crazy, I would still score points.

The first 50, I consciously tried to go slow. I reeled in the impulse and urge to let the stroke flow and stretch out, as I always did in the 50 and 100. But I resisted the temptation, and took measured, highly restrained strokes, and kept with an easy breathing pattern, two strokes, breathe.

That didn't feel too bad, so I tried it again on the next 50, letting the stroke develop a little bit, still keeping the breathing pattern. Meanwhile, the rest of the heat was at least two lengths ahead of me, and I was a little concerned about the possibility of being lapped. But only a little, I had a race to finish.

On the third 50, I finally swam long and relaxed, just like one would feel on the first length, usually. And the rest of the heat was no longer pulling away from me, in fact, I was keeping apace easily, even thoough I was still behind everyone.

The last turn, I decided to find out what was left in the gas tank, and let her rip. I swam by the guy next to me as if he were sculling backwards. I felt terrific, albeit tired, but definitely not out of gas, and still in control of my stroke (rather than praying the whole last lengh that I would still have feeling in my arms and legs after the race). The last stroke before I hit the wall, I could hardly get my arms out of the water, and I knew that I had given it everything, so was satisfied.

I ended up getting third in that race (some leads just can't be overcome), and was converted to swimming the 200 fly from then on.

The routine is simple, hold back on the first 50, slowly build the rest. You can't go wrong, and if you do it well, you look like a hero. Good luck.

I yam what I yam

March 2nd, 2002, 08:50 PM
Thanks again for beginning this discussion. I've considered myself a butterflyer for the many years I've dabbled in Masters swimming but never trained very seriously. I've felt for some time that I "should" be training more fly, but it was always just so much harder, and I've been satisfied with just swimming free or IM.
Since this thread began last week I've made the conscious decision to put more effort into butterfly.
Although it doesn't sound like much to some of you diehards out there, this morning I did 4X100 fly on 2:00. I never would have attempted this in a workout if not for this renewed sense of purpose here. (The 13 year old kid in the next lane, who just set the national record for 11-12 200 M fly last year got a real kick out of my effort).
Anyway, I may run into you at a meet sometime to talk to you in person; I'll be in 50-54 age group entered in any and all butterfly and IM events. Hope your 200 this weekend went well for you. I'm sure you'll let us know how it felt.

Bert Petersen
March 2nd, 2002, 10:14 PM
Jim: tell us how it went............... Bert:)

jim thornton
March 3rd, 2002, 08:15 AM
It's 8:10 am, and we're about to make the 2.5 hour drive to Hollidaysburg. Armed with the advice from this forum, I will haul my creaky, mildly arthritic, and even more mildly hungover 49-year-old body onwards to my dubious 200 butterfly destiny!

Thanks for all the advice, and I'll let you know how it went (assuming I can use my arms enough to type.)


Phil Arcuni
March 3rd, 2002, 10:55 AM
Wow Jim, I've swum at that pool where you are going! I tried to do sets of 100s, and keeled over from heat exhaustion! That pool is *too* warm! All of the advice is changed! (not really, best of luck. Or rather, I hope things went well)

jim thornton
March 3rd, 2002, 07:55 PM
Phil and everyone else who offered such great advice:

Interesting comment about the heat, Phil. I am still sweating. I drank 6 x 12 ounce bottles of water during the meet and my mouth is still dry. The meet's been over for 5 hours.

Anyhow, the old Y regional record for our 45-49 age group was 2:27.59, so I was hoping to go a 2:27.58. I went out in about 1:04 for the first hundred, feeling pretty good--loose, well oxygenated, etc. I told myself--only one more 100--like doing a butterfly sprint at the end of a hard practice. I thought this would prove pretty doable.

After 125, I could feel my stroke shortening a bit, but told myself to stay relaxed--I only had 75 left. After 150, I was definitely getting tired. I tried to keep as horizontal as possible, but ended up undulating higher than before just to get enough "freeboard" to suck in huge amounts of air. Still, I thought, only one more 50! Anyone can finish a 50 fly, right?

The last two lengths were increasingly brutal. With 25 yards to go, my teammates told me afterwards, they commented to themselves, "He only needs to break 30 on the last length to get the new record." But they watched as Xeno's Paradox began to take over. The last 12 1/2 yards, then the last 6 1/4 yards, then the last 3 1/8 yards--anyone who has attempted this race knows what I am talking about. I feared I was going to keep halving the distance in perpetuity, never reaching the wall.

It's somewhat debatable whether my final stroke was technically butterly--it was closer to a form of two-armed fingertip drill (only I was using my elbows instead of fingertips.) Anyhow, it's a good thing I wasn't racing the 201 yard butterfly, because I don' t think I could have made it.

My final time: a palindromic 2:21.22, which beat our old record by about 6 1/3 seconds. I have to say I am extremely happy about this--and don't plan to swim the 200 fly again until next year when I turn 50, then every five years from that point on, like clockwork.

Thanks very, very much for your advice, one and all. It really helped, even though--as my 13 year old son put it--my last few strokes weren't good enough to be called butterfly, they were more like lardfly.

Bert Petersen
March 3rd, 2002, 08:11 PM
a 104 and a 117,eh? I would guess that a 106 and a 115 would have felt a lot better with the same final result. We learn as we burn.................. ;)

Phil Arcuni
March 4th, 2002, 01:11 AM
It turns out my inlaws live about 2 miles from the Hollidaysburg pool, so I am familiar with it.

Jim, I wish I could have described my experiences swimming that event as well as you did; evidently some experiences are just universal. Maybe there really is a hell.

I swam the 200 fly last year at Santa Clara for the first time in my Masters career. As I approached the finish and passed under the flags, I doubted I could take as stroke and still recover over the water. If I couldn't, it would be a sure DQ, so I kicked the rest of the way in. I remember thinking that this must be the way a parapalegic felt - the arms would not do what the brain told them to do.

As I was deciding if I could possibly climb out of the pool, one of the timers looked down at me sadly, "You could have had a better time if you had taken another couple of strokes" he said.

It was also the only event I managed to place, and one of the happiest and proudest moments of my year. I'll do it again :)

Gail Roper
March 4th, 2002, 12:26 PM
When I used to swim the 200 fly, as I did for many years, I paced myself so I would negative split the race. I used my 200 timing which is a lot different than the 100....and I never collasped during the last 25. You "float" the first 100, the pick up the pace, the last 50 hurts and the last 25 is a sprint. Does anyone remember the man who died at the end of the 200 fly in Florida? He was only 36! And he could hardly get his arms out of the water on the last 25, collapsing and dropping under the water at the finish. His friends were all cheering, "Come on...you can do it!". I would like to suggest that anyone doing the 200, in shape or not, modify their stroke, learn pacing and negative split this race. A word to the wise.

jim thornton
March 4th, 2002, 02:26 PM

Thanks for the cautionary note, though I wish you had mentioned the "float the first 100" advice BEFORE I swam my race.

As far as the guy who dropped dead at the end of the 200 fly, that's tragic. He must have had some sort of occult heart condition, I would think. If this did, in fact, happen (as opposed to being a Masters equivalent of an urban legend), I'd definitely like to know more details.

But I count myself blessed not only to have finished but to have survived....

Rob Copeland
March 4th, 2002, 02:37 PM
Definitely not an urban legend, the swimmer was Herbert Margolis, a 37 year old attorney, who died of a heart attack after swimming the 200 yd. butterfly in the meet. The meet was the short course National Master Championships held in Ft. Pierce, FL in 1986.

Philip Arcuni
March 4th, 2002, 03:00 PM
Hi Gail,

So does 'float' mean float in the sense "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" or in the sense "I floated in the water?" I always floated the first 100 in the first sense, that is, I never push hard, and I breath smoothly, and I stretch, and at the end of the 100 I feel like I just did a warmup (I do race with lots of adrenalin). If you mean the second sense, well, how can I ever beat Dennis Baker (world record holder 40-44 200 LCM fly) if I do that? ;)

You say your 200 timing is different. Do you mean you swim a different type of butterfly, rather than your normal butterfly more slowly? When I try to swim distance fly (greater than 200 yards) I do swim a different stroke, with lots more glide, pull ends farther forward, and a lazy kick. Is that what you mean? I have been reluctant to do that stroke in a 200 because of the reason mentioned in the previous paragraph (that is, I want a fast time, not just to finish (but I am not ready to die, literally, yet (but dying while swimming beats some alternatives))).

And do you *really* mean negative split? Your second hundred was faster than your first? Perhaps we should get quantitative here. How much slower (or faster!) should the second hundred be than the first, in percentage? For example, in the race I mentioned early in the thread, my second 100 m was about 27% slower than my first (clearly not good). What do those who say they pace this race correctly accomplish?

March 4th, 2002, 04:00 PM
I would suggest that Fred Schlicher (50-54) who swims in the lane to the right of me (that means faster) paces a 200 fly as well as anyone who swims it fast. When he set his USMS records for 50-54 at our NE SCY Championship he swam a 2:02.56 and split it: 27.61/59.79/1:31.62/2:02.56 (this information came from www.swimmingtimes.com a website run by NEM that has more than 600,000 swims from USA, College and Masters meets).

I think its very hard to "negative" split a 200 fly or breast and still achieve a "record" time. The momentum from the dive alone for both strokes gives you more than 1 second advantage. (I wouldn't be surprised if in breastroke the advantage is closer to 2 seconds if you have a good entry). Looking at Fred's splits by 50s you can see that after the first 50 (consider the dive momentum and adrenalin) he eased back on his second 50 and then descended his 50s 2-4. This is something that is reinforced daily by our coach Rob Berry. We don't swim a lot of yardage (average around 3,500 a session) but we do swim lots of sets that help us swim fast through smart pacing. I think that Rob also understands all too well what it takes to get masters to swim fast since he always seems to know when to put some recovery in the workout to help us get back up again and swim faster.

March 4th, 2002, 08:34 PM
I wonder how common an occurance it is for someone to die at Master's meets. I hadn't heard of Mr. Margolis, but I was in Nashville at Nationals in 1991 when 76? year old Fredrick Wiggins died during a 200 IM. The early heats were going so slow that I went outside to browse among the venders booths while waiting for my heat. While outside, Mr. Wiggins arrested during his IM, rescusitation efforts ensued and EMT's took him to the hospital where he later died. All of this took place in my absence and when I strolled back into the pool area where the meet had been restarted from where it halted, I remarked to some lady "is this all the farther they are?" She certainly must have thought I was the most insensitive SOB she'd ever come across.
Anyway, earlier this year a friend of mine nearly died at the Chicago Marathon and because of this I recently had all of my labwork and EKG checked for the first time in 25 years.
USMS recommends we all be checked out before engaging in strenuous activity and I at least have the peace of mind that my cholesterol, HDL's, LDL's triglycerides and EKG are as good as can be expected.
If something should happen to me, it won't be because I was too stubborn and stupid to find out if there was an obvious problem first. So get checked out people. I like master's swimmers, but I don't want to do mouth to mouth on any of you. Especially after a 200 butterfly!

Bert Petersen
March 4th, 2002, 09:04 PM
Greg;you will never have to mouth-to-mouth me after a 200 fly. Did my last one ever at Santa Clara. There was another fatality at the Worlds in Montreal, Canada in 1994- a great backstroker ( in my age-group !!!) from T.O.C. named James Bohan (sp. ??) had a coronary during his event. Very sad, but if I have to go, that's as good as it gets.............. No-one ever REALLY negative splits a 200 fly-you just try to come close: eg: 1:06 & 1:10 = 1:16 and a real good swim. My licence plate reads "100 fly" and there is a reason for that. I'm too puny to go a great 50 and way too smart to swim a 200 again. There are no other strokes and so I'm stuck with the 100 !!!! ;)

March 4th, 2002, 09:55 PM
All of you can improve your 200 fly time by not swimming as far. When I swim a 200 breast (25 yds) I swim less than 80 yards, the 200 fly I try to swim less than 100 yards total. For me the start is worth 3 seconds, then I go deep, dolphin kick 3-5 times, then let buoancy get me to the surface. It has been a while since I have done a good 200 fly, but I always call the 200 fly and breast a start and seven turns.

By working on your streamline most people can improve one to two yards, in the same time or less, with no extra effort. For most flyers they have to work on getting their muscles in a good modern streamline, like breaststrokers flyers usually are well muscled. Using Marty Hulls ROM strap allows even well muscled swimmers to get into a great streamline. Try it, I am the most inflexible swimmer out there, but I go 13 to 14 yards off each turn.
Just a thought.
Wayne McCauley

Paul Smith
March 5th, 2002, 08:35 AM
The 200 is such an incredibly different "animal" relative to all the other distances, the fly version seems to demonstrate this more than any other stroke. If you look at the best 200 flyers they are usually not as strong in the 100, rather they are exceptional in the 400IM, 500 free, etc. (like Tom Dolan). Training for this event requires a substanial amount of fly time in practice and a different/more efficient stroke.

Wayne, your onto something when you talk about the under water kick. Some of the elite 200 flyers in the world will hit 9-11 kicks underwater in this event and will "build" throughout the whole race. Us guys/gals who are stronger in the 100 typically can't find the rhythm/pace in this event and in my case avoid it . One other observation, it seems that quite a few successful swimmers breath every stroke or use a 2/1 pattern (two breathes/1 down).

jim thornton
March 5th, 2002, 10:53 AM
It has occurred to me that the 200 fly has something in common with a weight lifting set--the first couple repetitions are relatively easy, but as your muscles get progressively more fatigued, it becomes harder and harder to keep going. The last few strokes in the race are analogous to the final lift in the set--you are on the verge (assuming you haven't crossed over entirely) of muscle failure.

Something physiological must be taking place here, but the exact nature of which I have no idea. Are there any knowledgable exercise physiologists out there? If so, can you explain what precisely is happening on the final several strokes of the race, where it becomes almost impossible (at least for the likes of me) to get your arms out of the water?

Is it the case that lactic acid has built up so high that this has begun impeding the muscle fibers' ability to contract?

Or have the muscle fibers exhausted all immediately available fuel and/or oxygen?

Or is something else entirely the cause?

Whatever is going on, is there anyway (short of going slower early in the race, streamlining, etc.) to prepare your body for this moment of muscle failure--that is to say, to delay it?

March 5th, 2002, 11:37 AM
What I have noticed with the great 200 flyers is they kick both down and up, and they never go vertical. Now is the even kick the reason they do not go vertical, I don't know. Also they actually train for the 200 fly, they get lots of lactic acid sets in, so they are prepared for the PAIN of that last 50.
Like Tall "Eagle Eyes" Paul stated, the 200 flyer is not the fastest at 50 or 100 fly, definitely the great 200 flyers are a different breed. They think different from the rest of us. They really believe they are animals, just ask them.

Our team had a younger swimmer go out in 50.6 seconds for the first 100 of a 200 fly a couple of years ago. He wanted to swim faster than the winner of the 100 fly race, which he missed swimming. He came back something like 1:08, but man there must have been a LOT OF PAIN that last 100!

Gail Roper
March 6th, 2002, 11:03 AM
There's only one way to swim the 200 fly....very carefully. To reply to Phil, you take it out strong.... but controlled. If you have trained correctly, you should know how to pace those 4 or 8 lengths. The first part of the race should feel light, airy, "floating" on top of the water. Float like a butterfly. You should be relaxed, getting a good rhythm and good timing. I have set many world and national records in all three fly distances and have used a different timing for each one. The 200 is totally different from the 100, it is mostly arms and body movement, useing your legs more on the last 50. I always double breathed, something I can't do anymore at my age. The 100 is also double breathing with a faster turnover, more body movement and kick. Working the dive, turns and streamline are extremely important.
I have a theory for the 50. You can't turn over any faster than you can kick twice, so I use one kick in the 50, turning over faster with one breath on the first 25, one at the turn and one coming back. This worked for me....my 50 flyworld record stood for 16 years.
As for training for the 200, 3 months out do 3xbroken 200s once or twice a week to get the feel of descending, 2 months out 2x200 broken and one month out 1x200. This one broken 200 should be perfect and focused on decending the pace by 1 second. You only get one chance in the meet so you should learn to do it once, perfect, in practice. Also, you will need to do this on your own as you will not be able to do this in a masters workout. Hope this helps.....

March 18th, 2002, 07:27 AM
At the last swim meet, I had the following splits for the 200 fly:

30.36 35.37 37.50 42.40

I felt strong until I finished at the 150 mark, and then BAMP....I almost didn't finish, and I was completely out of breath.

Any suggestions to improve it! My next meet is in 4 weeks. Thanks!

Michael Heather
March 18th, 2002, 09:53 AM
Yeah, don't go crazy on the first 100. Hold back a little for the end of the race.

I yam what I yam

January 27th, 2006, 11:32 AM
I hope its o.k. to resurrect an old thread like this one (the last posting was sometime in 2002)?? .....especially when it received such a high rating and all......but I also want to make a couple of comments about the 200 fly since I've always considered it to be my favorite and my best event.

First of all, I want to say that Jim Thorton's essay on his 200 fly experience was extremely entertaining to read....as is so many of his postings here and magazine articles....the man just has a great way with words! ...Thanks again Jim for the excellent commentary!

I had a similar experience at last years scy nationals in Ft. Lauderdale when I swam in my second ever masters meet and my first 200 fly since college (which was 19 years or so ago). I was all shaved and tapered and wearing my fancy new speedo fastskin space suit....so nothing to worry about right?....I had also done lots of butterfly in practice over the previous 3 to 4 months.....It was my last swim of the meet and my last chance to place in the top 10 in anything at the meet (although I slightly bettered a couple of my times since my first ever masters meet about 6 weeks prior, my best finish thus far going into the 200 fly was 16th in the 100 fly).....anyway, I went out feeling long and smooth as suggested by many of the other posters on this thread....but I was out perhaps a little too fast in a 58.5 or so at the 100 mark.....then I went a 32 or 33 for my third 50 as the lactic acid started to build up and take its toll.....but it was that last 50 that really really began to hurt!!......Wow....I had totally forgotten what it was like when the piano hits that fast.....Just like Jim siad (and so many others here).....I barely finished the race......but luckily b/c I was out fast enough and still held on to some degree despite the excruciating pain....I pulled off a 10th place performance on that final swim of the meet (of course there were only 16 or so swimmers entered in that event.....but who's counting right...LOL!!).....My last 50 was a 36 or so and I ended up with a 2:06 something.....I only found out later that there were 2 other swimmers who went 2:06 as well that finished just ahead of me.....another thing I found out about masters swimming.....the time differences between places at nationals was much tighter than I would have ever guessed.....Another example was my 100 fly....I went 56.4 or so and placed 16th overall.....even though the winning time was a low 54....16 places all within 2.5 seconds in that event......granted the winning 200 fly time was MUCH faster than 2:06 (and if Dennis Baker had been there it would have been MUCH MUCH faster in fact).....but I had never been nudged out by less than a second in a 200 fly before by 2 different swimmers....even in college.....I obtained a great deal of respect for masters swimming after swimming in that meet.....I found out that there are not just a handful of pretty fast swimmers at the top of each agegroup out there....but instead, there is a fairly sizable number of very good and very competitive swimmers in each agegroup.....One of the things that I have now come to really like and respect about USMS....it is a much more legitimate competitve organization then I would have ever believed before I ever stumbled in to it!


January 27th, 2006, 01:35 PM
It goes to show you you really need to finish every race with everything you've got. You never know when that little extra could mean the difference of placing or not placing.

Haven't seen you around here for a while, Jim. How's the training been going?

January 27th, 2006, 03:43 PM
Yes.....you are very correct I must say......as far as my training is going....well....not so good....(I hope Ande doesn't read this!)
I missed around 5 or 6 weeks of training from early December to mid January because of an injury I sustained during Thanksgiving Break (throwing long football passes to my brothers at my Mom's house) and the fact that our YMCA caught on fire just before Christmas and the pool was closed for a month.....So everyone on my team missed at least a month of training as a result.....We're just back into our second week of training since the fire......We did our first real threshhold set last night since the fire which was:

SCM: ( 4 x 200 on 2:45 followed by 4 x 100 on 1:25 ) x 2

I made it through the first time o.k. holding around 2:30 per 200 and 1:12 - 1:14 or so per 100....then the second time through I fell apart after the second 200 and didn't make the interval....I came back and made the 4 100's afterwards though.....the water was very hot (around 88 degrees) ...but lets face it....I'm way out of shape and grossly overweight again....I was 185 at last year's nationals ....now I'm around 215 and climbing.....I think Ande is going to smash me like a guitar in our 500 free challenge now....Damn Longhorns!!


January 27th, 2006, 04:00 PM
My training was less then stellar in December, but not nearly as bad as yours. That just sounds like bad luck all around!

Well, the important thing is you're back at it.

I don't think I'm going to swim SC Nationals this year, but plan to do Worlds this summer at Stanford. Hopefully I can get in enough long course training to make a good showing there.

January 30th, 2006, 07:38 PM
my 200 fly tips are

breathe a lot
concentrate on fast turns and great streamlines
stay relaxed
keep your hips up
save your legs

but most important
take it way easier going out
keep your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th 50 splits closer together

in that swim there was a 7 second difference between your 2nd and 4th 50

35.37 1:05.73
42.40 1:19.90

as an example
you'd be way better off
if you split your 200 fly
32 36 36 36

the other part of the equation is to do some hrd middle distance training and get in great shape.


I must admit I've swum some pretty horrendous 200 fly's in my day, like in 1981 I went 2:17 in the 200 LCM fly splitting it
1:00 1:17, that last 50 was truly agonizing

In college I think I went 1:53 in the 200 y fly splitting it
:53 1:00 I probably could have gone much faster,
I was 48.8 in the 100 fly.

for fun one season
I may train some for the 200 fly
enter a few meets and
attempt to split it correctly.

Originally posted by butterfly
At the last swim meet, I had the following splits for the 200 fly:

30.36 35.37 37.50 42.40

I felt strong until I finished at the 150 mark, and then BAMP....I almost didn't finish, and I was completely out of breath.

Any suggestions to improve it! My next meet is in 4 weeks. Thanks!

January 31st, 2006, 11:22 AM
I've never enjoyed any race at 200 yds/meters. I hate training for them and racing for them. I love though to get into a pool and swim either forever or really short fast. I think that 200 fly is probably one of the hardest to train for and I think people wh do it regularly are trememdous.