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Swimming Distance per Stroke and Stroke Rate

The math behind swimming stroke counts

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Many coaches talk about distance per stroke (DPS) and strokes/minute or strokes/second (stroke rate - SR) or even seconds/stroke - but what does it all mean?

  • Distance = 100 meters
  • Time = 1-minute (60 seconds)
  • Stroke (cycles) = 54

Now the math:

  • DPS = distance/# cycles used for that distance = 100/54 = 1.85 meters/cycle

  • SR = #cycles/time = 54/1:00 = .9 cycles/second

  • Seconds/Stroke = time/#cycles = 1:00/54 = 1.11 seconds/cycle

So what!?! You want to increase your efficiency - get the most with the least, up to a point. You might be able to cover 10 meters with one stroke, but move so slowly that a snail passes you - not a good balance between SR and DPS.

You can count your cycles during different sets in practice and compare that with your time for those repeats - if you are putting out the same effort, you can tell when you have found a good balance - you will be taking the lowest number of strokes without losing speed. It takes practice, but with time you will find your optimum mix. As you improve your conditioning and your technique, you may find DPS changing; if it is a positive change, then it is usually a good one, indicating that you are getting more out of each stroke.

Swim On!

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