Race Plan. Do you have one??

Swimming 101: Building a Race Plan

Too young to have a race plan? Think again.

Race plans are a vital part of swimming. Whether the race you are doing is an open water swim,triathlon, a post-training fun race or a national championship event, swimming race plans will help you swim better, faster and longer. Always remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.


Your swim plan depends on the event and distance you will be doing. A 50-metre freestyle swimming race at your local club is different from a triathlon swim, swimming in the ocean or doing a national final; however, there are still basic components that apply to each race and its participants.

swim faster
You need a race plan to swim faster

The Essentials of an Effective Race Plan

Line up at the edge of the water or behind the blocks. Take a deep breath and relax. You need to control your emotions at this point and try not to get too excited. If you’re doing a 50-metre sprint, exploding off the block like the Jaws monster is on your tail is fine. But considering that you are swimming in a longer race or open water, you cannot go out at full speed and then get exhausted after 150 metres. In an open water, there’s a great chance of bashing and crashing onto other swimmers.

In a 200 backstroke swimming or 800 freestyle swimming, you need to pace and control yourself. You need to be in control of your dives, kicks, stroke rate, breathing rhythm and technique. How many butterfly kicks are you going to do before you surface? What is your breathing pattern? Are you aiming to have a sprint finish for the sets you are doing? Where should you start sprinting? Set your land markers when doing open swimming to avoid getting disorientated. Swim with people and try not to battle for position. Determine the break line for the waves when doing ocean swimming to know where to catch the waves. Is there a current? Which way is it going? How rough is the water?

Just How Important are Race Plans? We could literally sit down and write a whole page of race plans for each stroke, but it is not a one size fits all matter. Each race plan and swimmer is different. This means one race plan for one swimmer will not be the same for another. As a reminder, here is a basic race plan you may consider:

  • Dive phase or breakout phase (when you surface)
  • Breathing pattern and turn phase
  • Sprint section phase (as needed)
  • Finishing phase
  • I hope this helps you think about the appropriate plans for your events. And if you need help, I’d be happy to go into more details and discuss the specifics.

    3 thoughts on “Race Plan. Do you have one??”

      1. I would look at practicing a 3,2,1 breathing pattern then breath every second stroke. Once you can bet better at this move to a 3,2,1 and then a 3,2 pattern. Good luck hope this helps and thanks for the comment.

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