College Swimming

Confession of the day: I typed this blog out quite some time ago and never actually posted it.  I didn’t want to post it until I was completely sure of one thing and one thing only.

That swimming and I were getting along. 

And we are becoming closer and closer.  Gone on a few dates and been okay so I figured it was acceptable to talk about more swimming on the blog.


I know a lot of people know a decent amount of swimming (ie: survival skills) but I am forever getting questions (on and off the blog) about how swimmers actually compete and what that entails.  I don’t mind though because I actually like talking and teaching about swimming.  I am a certified instructor after all 😉

For my runners-think of a swim meet like a track meet.  You have the sprinters who run like the 100 meter and you have different people that run the 2 mile.  That is why the teams are so big, because not everyone can swim/run every single thing.  You also even more different people who are discus throwers (right?) and hurdlers…lots of different events and no one person is exceptional at every single thing.

It’s kind of like that for swimming (although I think there is more overlap).

To clarify-there are four competitive strokes.





In college we race anything from a 50-1650 (also known as the mile).

But you don’t race a mile of butterfly(dear god).

The freestylers race the following:







Generally there are three different sets of swimmers that belong to this group the class freestyle. 

You have the sprinters who only swim the 50 and 100.  They are fast and like little sparkplugs.  They could swim no yards and still whip out the same times.  (Why can’t distance swimmers be like that wahh).

You have the mid distance, who in my opinion deserve the most credit.  They have to remain fast but for longer distances and swim the 200 and 500. They do a mixture of sprint workouts and distance workouts.  Both of these events are my least favorite actually.

Then finally you have distance.  (That’s me!).  They swim either the 1000 or the mile because both are not offered every meet.  I mean who really wants to pay attention to 20 minutes of going from point A back to point A 30+ times.  That sort of race does not come down to the .001 (and yes that has happened countless times in sprint events).


Next you have the stroke groups.

Butterfliers (100 and 200).  They normally get the pleasure of swimming both.

Backstrokers/whackstrokers/napstrokers…I have a lot of names for those guys.  But they also swim te 100 and 200.

Breastrokers (100 and 200).


Then on top of all those events you have Individual Medleys (medliers…I don’t know).  Depending on the meet it can be either be a 200 medley or 400 medley.  400 IM=death.

They swim a 50 fly-50 back-50-breast-50 free.  All in a row, without stopping. 


Plus relays (which build to the team aspect).  Relays are a team of four people that swim an equal amount.  For instance in a 400 relay, everyone swims a 100.  In a 200-eveyrone swims a 200. 







200/400/800 Freestyle

200 Medley Relay (Everyone swims a 50).  So for instance 1 person will swim 50 fly, 50 back, 50 breast ad 50 free.  The 400 Medley relay is the same but with 100s.



I hope this helps one person.  I am the ultimate confuser if ya didn’t know.  🙂

Questions for you:

Swimming.  What would you like to know?

If you are a swimmer, what was/is your favorite event? 

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  1. Imagine if we had to swim a 1650 fly hahaha.. Wait.. You would probably be able to do that! :p

    I was a breaststroker through and through but also swam the 200 and 500 🙂

    Now I enjoy fly and just generally floating around like a whale.

  2. Mid distance is, as you said, basically . You get to do some long aerobic sets with distance swimmers. You get to do lactate stuff with the sprinters. You get to do your own mid-distance pace stuff. Oh and you still have to go to the weight room. I’m pretty sure our workouts were the longest.

    Everybody probably thinks that.

    I dare you to swim 1650 fly someday.

  3. A mile butterfly? Vomit. I guess you could do it, though, if you really wanted to. I mean, I love my butterfly but 200 is my max. I love the 500, too, but my times sucked on our team at least!

  4. This was SO interesting actually! I always wanted to know what went on at swim meets and who better to get it from than the swimming queen herself!? The distance swimmers totally sound like they’re the most badass! I can’t even imagine swimming a mile!!!

  5. breaststroke ftw. and I’m definitely a sprinter. huge heavy muscles that do the job until about 100 and then am maxedddd haha except 200im was fun… did 400im some times… not as fun though. We just say IMers here.

    Um… you accepted a butterfly mile challenge? Record it. Seriously. lolll

  6. I love swimming, but I’m nowhere near fast, and like the breaststroke the most. I call it the ‘frog’ swim. Haha.

  7. 1650 fly? It’s not as bad as it sounds. We did a fly-off my freshman year and eventually it was me and one other boy left swimming but we had to stop because we ran out of practice time. Although after doing fly for that long my stroke was scarcely recognizable.

    My favorite is the 50 free and 100 fly and 200 free relay and I really do not care for any other race at all. 🙂 Although who knows why the 100 backstroke has grown on me this month. But I cannot do a backstroke start to save my life. Dear God. I never even grab the bar because that makes it worse – I just grab the deck/side of the pool to take my mark.

  8. Thanks for sharing this! I feel the same about mid-distance runners – it’s really difficult to strike the balance between sprinting and endurance running. Tara + 800m race = no bueno. I may have told you this before, but I used to swim and I quit because we were doing backstroke, then they called out butterfly, and I got confused so I did butterfly… backwards. How? I don’t know. But as a second grader it was embarassing enough to make me quit.

  9. Okay true story right here… the first time I swam the mile at a meet, I saw a girl do Butterfly for the entire 1650 in the heat ahead of me!! An impressive freak of nature if you ask me! And she maintained the stroke beautifully the entire time…came in around 19 minutes I believe? A beast in disguise.
    And my favorite events were the 200 and 500 free!

  10. That was interesting, I really don’t know much about swimming because it’s not that popular here as a sport. It’s popular as a summer activity, but our schools don’t have teams or anything. Neat to read about it :).

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