Men’s 50 Freestyle: Different Numbers, Same Conclusion


Nathan Adrian and Jimmy Feigen swimming the finals of the 100 free. (small)BY KATIE ARNOLD//HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSULTANT

A few weeks ago I discussed the women’s 50m freestyle and asserted that it is always in a swimmer’s best interest to exploit the underwater portion of this race. This week it’s the men’s turn. In setting out on my research, I wanted to see how similar the two races are. In addition to the obvious difference in speeds, there are a few other key differences that should be noted.Mens 50m Free Breakout Chart. 

  • The slowest underwater speed (2.900 mps) and the fastest above water speed (2.310 mps) both belong to the same athlete, which means all these men are at least .590 mps faster underwater.
  • None of the men ever drop below 2.000 mps while all of the women dropped below this threshold during the above water portion of the race.
  • The largest speed difference from underwater to above for the women was .767 mps. All but two of the men had a speed difference larger than this, with four of these men going more than 1.000 mps faster underwater than above. 

Once again, what does it all mean? The men lose even more speed than the women when they transition from underwater kicking to above water swimming. Additionally, from 15m-35m and 35m-50m the group is fairly evenly bunched together, with all 10 swimmers within .100 mps of each other. Therefore, it is that much more important for male sprinters to work on the underwater and transition through the surface to exploit any advantage they can gain.