Backstroke: 100m Back Tempos



Many coaches and swimmers use tempos to guide their race strategy and preparation. A common question asked is what the tempos are for a specific event. Looking at eight different male backstrokers under 53.30 and eight different female backstrokers under 59.70, you might be surprised at what we find out.



  • 100 backstroke tempos are generally in the 1.2 – 1.3 seconds per cycle range for both 50’s for both genders.
  • Most tempos are slightly slower on the second 50 than the first 50. Slowing down around 0.05 sec/cyc for the second 50 is an acceptable amount to result in a good performance.
  • The fastest tempos for the men are faster than the fastest tempos for the women. The slowest tempos for the women are slower than the slowest tempos for the men. But generally, men and women still fall into that 1.2 – 1.3 sec/cyc range.

    World-leading Camille LaCourt of France is able to maintain the same tempo for both 50’s. In his textile-best 52.11, he held 1.24 sec/cyc for both 50’s. In his 52.76 2011 World Champion swim, he was 1.20 and 1.21 for the 50’s.

100 back tempo graph
This graph shows the 1st 50 and 2nd 50 tempos for 30 races:

  • Eight men (14 races) under 53.30
  • Eight women (16 races) under 59.70


100m Back Tempo Graph.

Graph notes:
Women: Red lines, Men: Blue lines

The three red lines in the 1.45 – 1.50 range are the same person

The four blue lines that start near 1.1 are 2 men with fast tempos

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