Questions about FR races

Home Forums General USRPT Topics Questions about FR races

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Author
  • #3424

    Hello again. I just had my mid-season championship meet this past weekend, and wanted to share some results, as well as get your opinions on a few things. It was SCY, trials-finals, FL & BK on Fri, 50 FR on Sat, 100 FR on Sun. I had finals for everything but the BK. I’d say it was a solid meet for me, still a LOT of things I can do better.

    100 FL: 56.36 split 26.38/29.98 Dropped 1.46
    100 BK: 1.00.72 split 29.35/31.37 Added 2.18
    50 FR: 23.60 Dropped 0.04
    100 FR: 52.37 split 25.15/27.22 Dropped 0.45

    I have been wondering what the best breathing pattern would be for me in the 100 FR. Lately I’ve been racing with every every 4 (always to the Right,) every 3, and every stroke (again, to the R,) trying to see what worked best. At this meet, I swam prelims with every 4, and split 25.16/27.63 , then at finals switched to every stroke with the splits I put above. Given this, it seems like breathing more helps my back 1/2, but i’m not sure if it’s too much breathing, too much drag. Maybe every 3 would be a good balance?

    Just a note, the Underwaters for this are 13,10,10,10, stroke counts of 9,13,13,15, by 25. When I race a 50 FR, I do it No-Breath.

    I’ve noticed while watching the SCM worlds that the men all seem to breath every stroke in the 100, while most of the women have a mix of 4 & 2. It seems that nearly everyone breathes every stoke on anything 200+. Do women need less air than men?

    My coach and I have our opinions, but I wanted to get someone else’s perspective on it.
    Thanks, Liv.

    Gary P

    Dogma has certainly changed. We’d have been called “weak” for breathing every two in a 100 when I was a HS swimmer in the 80’s. Now it’s acceptable, and even trending towards the norm. But the “best” breathing pattern is still an individual thing.

    I took up swimming again about 4 years ago, and started training using USRPT. The 100 free isn’t always my feature event, but it’s something I train for consistently and race regularly. Once I got into shape, I tried various breathing patterns looking for incremental improvements in my USRPT sets. When I breated every 4, I was fast at first, but failed quickly. I was slower, but more consistent, breathing every 2. Every 3 was a touch faster than 2, and I could go longer than 4. But I could feel I was “hanging” briefly when breathing to the right; a phenomenon probably conditioned by millions of yards of circle-swimming traditional long distance training sets, where my stroke rate was slower and I always breathed right so I wouldn’t suck water every time a lanemate went past in the opposite direction.

    Then I tried a 4/2 to the left, and it was the “Goldilocks” answer for me. It was incrementally faster than every three (consistently 1 to 2 tenths of second per 25), and I could get pretty deep in a USRPT set or finish a race strong. So that

    That finals time and those splits look pretty good. Yes, breathing every 2 probably adds a little drag. But if the additional oxygen uptake allows you to hold your power longer, that could very well be worth more than the extra drag costs.

    Experiment in your USRPT sets. Try various patterns. An answer will emerge.


    We shouldn’t look at patterns. It’s an expenditure:time ratio.

    The reason you can take 1 breath in the 50 is that it’s short. When you get to the 100, you’re running into an issue with expelling CO2 that finally reached the lungs. It takes 20-25 seconds for blood from the working muscle to return to the lungs. It’s fine to breathe every 4 until you need to breathe every 2. In the 2nd 50 of the 100 there will be a lot of CO2 entering the bloodstream and returning to the lungs. You’re working at a rate above VO2max. In a USRPT set, this is expanded out because of the intervals.

    The slower the event, the less CO2 enters the bloodstream every second. It’s easier to maintain a breathing patterning for the 500-1650.

    I always breathe to the right. I can maintain a 4 breath pattern for a while. Breathing during the end of a tough USPRT set is a great excuse to work on your head rotation and reduce drag.

    Also, if you hold your underwaters longer in the 2nd and 3rd turn then CO2 will accumulate until you surface for a breathe.

    Gold-Level USRPT Coach candidate


    Thank you both for your input, sorry for the delayed response.
    I’ve been messing around with this in practice for a few weeks now, and have found out a few things.

    1. Like Gary, every 4 is fastest for me, but i completely die after a couple of 25s on a min.
    2. Breathing every stroke is slightly slower, but my legs can hold on through an entire set.
    3. Every 3 feels the most balanced and smooth, but I have to deal with my weaker left arm and I still die early on.

    I haven’t tried the 4-2 combo yet, I wanted to have a couple of weeks just to test 4, 3, and 2 by themselves.
    When I train with using every 4 or 2, I alternate L & R by 50, to try and save my shoulders.

    Ryanupper, do you believe there is a difference between SCY and LCM breathing wise? I’m underwater much more in SC, is it possible that one needs to breathe more often in order to make up for having less strokes? Or maybe it’s the opposite because 100 LCM is a great deal longer than 100 SCY.

    I’ll keep messing around with it, eventually something will stick 🙂



    Probably not much of a difference in the 50. Take a breath out of the SCY turn and you should be good getting home. For LCM take 1 breath before halfway then 1 before the flags.

    For LCM 100, 4 strokes per breath should be doable the whole race because the stroke rate is higher, thus less time per cycle. For SCY 100 you probably should breathe in and out of every turn if you are stretching the underwaters then maintain a 4 stroke per breath pattern.

    The 200 is a little tricky due to the CO2 buildup. The last 25-50 will probably require a 2 stroke cycle.

    For every stroke, the breathing rate is somewhat dependent on the stroke rate. Simone has a low stroke rate versus others so if she takes 2 strokes per breath at times it doesn’t exactly mean the same as someone with a higher stroke rate. Same goes for fly. Phelps breathed every stroke but had a huge distance per stroke.

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.