200m and 400m IM Racing Tactics – Martyn Wilby, Senior Coach, Olympic Program, Swimming Canada
My views on the tactics behind racing either a 200 or 400 IM.
Fly: should be long and strong but never all out. A race can very rarely be won on the fly leg but if approached too aggressively, it can be lost. This is especially true of weak Breaststroke swimmers who feel the need “get a lead” before their weakness. I find this not only does not help but actually highlights the weakness.
Backstroke: should be swum with sub maximum kick, strong arms and should be negative split
Breaststroke: I believe this is where the race truly develops. Most swimmers find the transition from backstroke to breaststroke challenging. Long powerful arm strokes should be used in conjunction with a strong kick. Again, this leg should be even or negative split.
Freestyle: This is the leg where confidence in the swimmers training pays off. Swimmers who have “done the work” look to race here, those with confidence are looking to catch those ahead or increase their lead. Those without confidence panic or at best just try to “hold on”.