My swimming has a long way to go. But it's coming along. Today was just a run-of-the-mill lap swim day, 1250m. Just for fun I counted strokes (and timed it) for 100m of breaststroke and 100m of freestyle, just so that I can track it in my training log as I (hopefully) improve. I was not pushing it, just swimming at my normal lap swim pace that I feel I can maintain over a distance.
Here's my data, just for the record, alongside some data from elite female swimmers, 13-14 years old, during 100m races. It's not a valid direct comparison, certainly, but it's the first such swim stroke data I could find in a quick net search.
Breaststroke speed (meters/sec) : Elite: 1.27 Me: 0.54 (42%)
Breaststroke speed (sec/100 m) : Elite: 78.7 Me: 183 (43%)
Breaststroke stroke length (meters/stroke) : Elite: 1.61 Me: 1.04 (64%)
Breaststroke stroke frequency (strokes/sec) : Elite: 0.79 Me: 0.52 (65%)
Breaststroke, strokes per 25 m: Elite: 15.5 Me: 24.0
Freestyle speed (meters/sec) : Elite: 1.59 Me: 0.54 (33%)
Freestyle speed (sec/100 m) : Elite: 62.8 Me: 185 (35%)
Freestyle stroke length (meters/stroke cycle) : Elite: 1.90 Me: 1.31 (68%)
Freestyle stroke frequency (stroke cycles/sec) : Elite: 0.84 Me: 0.54 (64%)
Freestyle, stroke cycles per 25 m: Elite: 13.1 Me: 19.0
What does this tell me?
* Not that I don't compare well to the elites. That's obvious - I'm about 1/3 as fast! It's not my objective to challenge the elites, that's laughable! Besides, I wasn't even RACING. ;-) I was in a 25m pool and I don't even know how to do flip turns. Yet.
* My objective is to see how my own performance improves gradually over time, and the numbers hopefully move in the right direction, as I repeat this little test periodically in the future as my swimming improves. Today's test gives me baseline data.
* My breaststroke is comparatively better than my freestyle. They were approximately the same speed today.
* Both my distance per stroke and stroke frequency should increase in order to get faster, over time. (Although most experts say work on the technique first to enhance efficiency, then work on stroke frequency and power later).
* I'd like to find some better comparative data, say, for example, female masters swimmers. If you have those numbers for stroke frequency and stroke length, please send them my way! (Like this study, showing that world record times for older female masters swimmers for 1500 m are in the 25-minute range, and anything under 30 minutes is pretty darned fast).
Here's some more swimming data I was just referred to in another great source: the 2000 women's US Olympic Trials (thanks, Jill!):
Breaststroke, 200m, speed (meters/sec) : Elite: 1.22 - 1.34
Breaststroke, 200m, speed (sec/100 m) : Elite: 74.6 - 81.9
Breaststroke, 200m, stroke length (meters/stroke) : Elite: 1.61 - 2.01
Breaststroke, 200m, stroke frequency (strokes/sec) : Elite: 0.665 - 0.770
Breaststroke, 200m, strokes per 25 m: Elite: 12.4 - 15.5
Freestyle, 800m, speed (meters/sec) : Elite: 1.58 - 1.74
Freestyle, 800m, speed (sec/100 m) : Elite: 57.4 - 63.2
Freestyle, 800m, stroke length (meters/stroke cycle) : Elite: 1.70 - 2.22
Freestyle, 800m, stroke frequency (stroke cycles/sec) : Elite: 0.73 - 0.94
Freestyle, 800m, stroke cycles per 25 m: Elite: 11.2 - 14.7
That is just sick, isn't it? I mean, those Olympic freestylers could do a full lap in our 25m club pool in 29 seconds flat. And those aren't even the sprinters.