How to Swim the 200 Fly

Swimmer racing butterfly stroke in pool

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The 200-butterfly is considered one of the most grueling events in the sport of swimming. Not only does it consist of the stroke considered the hardest, butterfly, but it contains the largest amount of butterfly. Now, some people can perform butterfly all day, but for most people, this is a very difficult event. In order to make the 200-butterfly more manageable, first knowing how to perform butterfly properly is key. Once you've mastered the technique (to the best of your abilities), race strategy is the next step of making the 200-butterfly a manageable and even enjoyable event, especially once you begin passing everyone! 

First 50

The first 50 is like the calm before the storm. It is important to establish the stroke you wish to maintain for the entire race. Often times, people will start too fast in the first 50, only to fade at the halfway point. Instead, over the first 50, swim effortlessly, cruising to your race pace and race stroke per lap.

Second 50

On the second 50, it is likely you've established your pace and begin to see others race ahead of you and others fade back. Don't let the actions of others alter your race plan. Instead, have confidence in your strategy and maintain your stroke length during this 50. Leading into the 100, you will likely need to increase your effort level, building into the turn, as you are beginning to tire and want to maintain the same speed on this lap.

Third 50

The third 50 is where true swimmers are made. This is the lap where the properly trained and perfectly executed race plans will flourish. Luckily, you're following this plan and you will begin to pick up your effort level, as this will certainly be a tough 50, some feel it is the toughest. While working near maximum effort, you'll begin passing swimmers who carelessly went out too fast on the first 100. Build your confidence and keep feeding your brain with encouragement as you pass these swimmers.

Last 50

Many feel the last 50 of the 200 butterfly is not the hardest, as there is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, if you do the race correctly, you'll finish strong, but certainly not want the race to last another meter. On this lap, have an external focus drive your stroke, like "pull my body rapidly past my arms" or "reach towards the wall." These external cues prevent the brain from thinking about the metabolic waste which is building through the body. Ready, you want to finish as fast as you started, so stay relaxed, but stay strong until your hands touch the wall.