Women’s 200 IM: The Hypothetical All-Time A Final
BY KATIE ARNOLD//NATIONAL TEAM HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSULTANT
If you are anything like me, you learn and understand better when you can see information. As a visual learner, I often struggle with “Top X Performers” projects we do because many of the swims are from different competitions, and often different years or even decades. Without the ability to compare races side-by-side, there is only so much I can absorb based on looking at splits, data and numbers. Eventually, I have to create visuals so I can sort through and digest the information.
While researching the women’s 200 IM top performers (excluding 2008 and 2009), I wanted to really understand what each race “looked like” compared to the others, so I came up with the idea to create a hypothetical “A Final” for the top 8 performers. I then created two visual aids to help me process the data.
I used the chart below to plot each swimmer’s relative place in the heat after each 50:
- Both Hosszu (1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd) and Kukors (2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 5th) start fast and gradually fade at the end of the race.
- Rice, Belmonte and Chen all maintain their position from the 3rd 50 to the 4th.
- The two swimmers who change position the most are Leverenz (4th, 7th, 2nd, 4th) and Ye (8th, 3rd, 5th, 1st).
My second chart shows each swimmer’s 50 splits throughout the race.
- Only one swimmer is out sub-1:00 for the first 100m (Hosszu), and she has the fastest splits on both the butterfly and backstroke laps.
- Only one swimmer split sub-:37 on the breaststroke lap (Leverenz), and her split is almost a second faster than the next swimmer.
- The largest range in splits (2.34) occurred on the breaststroke lap while the smallest range (1.05) occurred on the butterfly lap.
- All of the fastest lap splits were found in three of the top four swimmers. Each of these swimmers also had a lap split that was slowest or second slowest.
Based on my observations, I do not believe there is a “one size fits all” approach to swimming a 200 IM. All of the best women were able to balance out their relative weakness with their relative strength. The best plan for this event is to know your particular strengths and weaknesses, develop a race plan around these, and then swim your own race according to this plan.