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Freestyle Tempo Rates

posted Mar 5, 2013, 10:58 AM by Pat Windschitl   [ updated Mar 5, 2013, 10:59 AM ]

BY RUSSELL MARK // HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSULTANT


Tempo is an involved topic, but for mature senior athletes and their coaches, having at least an awareness of tempo can be valuable. Developmental age group athletes should focus on technique first and foremost (i.e. stroke count and distance per stroke). Tempo can be an additional thought only after technique is established. 

Some coaches use tempo as a regular training measure, and these numbers show what the best in the country are racing at. Here the tempos for the top 8 male and female performers at 2012 US Olympic Trials. 


Important points:

  • Individuals who swim multiple distances have slower tempos for the longer races.
  • Tempos tend to slow down within each length and race. In general, aim to maintain tempo during a length. You do not want to start too quick and fade at the end.
  • While these numbers can be used as a guideline, tempo is very specific to the individual and will vary with technique and body type/size.

Notes for Women's Tempo:

  • The women’s tempos fit into tighter ranges than the men’s tempos, potentially narrowing down the ideal tempos for elite women.
  • Women’s tempos are faster than the men for most events.
  • Just like the men, individuals that swim multiple distances have slower tempos for the longer race.
  • Also like the men, tempos tend to slow down within each length and as the race goes on. Maintaining your tempo is consistent with finishing a length and race strong, so aim to do that.

Tempo is being displayed as seconds per cycle. (Cycle = two arm strokes)


Mens Freestyle Tempos
This graph shows the 8 individual tempos from each event: 
Mens Freestyle Tempo Graph. 

This graph shows the 8 individual tempos from each event: 
Womens Freestyle Tempo Graphs.
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