25 Swimmers On What They Think Is the Hardest Event

You heard from the coaches, so now it’s time to hear from the swimmers. They’re the ones who have to suffer through it, right?

  1. The 50 free because the race has to go perfectly. You have to have a perfect start and a perfect turn while also not breathing a whole lot, along with a perfect finish.
    -Kathryn James Murray, KY
  2. 400 IM, because you are trying to sprint each 100 but by the time you get to breast you are dead.
    -Macy Wager, MI
  3. The hardest event is the 200 free because is it a sprint or distance event and where is the middle ground? I still don’t know how to swim it and I’ve done it for 7 years now!
    -Megan Leibensperger, OH
  4. The 200 freestyle is the worst event. I don’t know what death feels like but if I did, the 200 freestyle would be right next to it.
    -Mykenzie Leehy, IA
  5. In my opinion, the 200 breaststroke is the hardest. Not only do you have to fight your opponents, but also the water itself- it’s a challenging balance of strength (in response to resistance) and grace in the water. Without both components (and the stamina/mental toughness to boot) there’s little chance for success!
    -Cole Tamburri, CT
  6. 1650, especially mid season, you finish the first 500 and realize you have more than double that distance still left, and no matter how slow you take it out it always seems like you went out too fast. Second is a tie between LCM 400 IM and LCM 200 breast. —Jack Prud’homme, TX
  7. 200 free. It’s not a sprint or long distance, so it’s a lot harder to pace yourself
    -Tanner Canelo, GA
  8. 400 meter IM For sure! All four strokes meant every single muscle was used at one point in time during the race, and by the end I was always completely floored. The LCM version was by far the worst!
    -Josie Antilla, WA
  9. The hardest event to do well is the SCY 200 breast. Breastroke is a powerful stroke, more so than even the 50 free. To go fast, you have to continue that power for 2 minutes. Then, you have the walls to contend with. Since there is no 15 m rule you can push your pullouts as far as you want, which takes real guts. On the third 50 of a 200 breast, you have to be the last one to breakout if you want to win.
    -Mikey Challis, PA
  10. The 1650 is the hardest event in swimming. You have to grapple the most with your own doubts and fears throughout the race. This is because it’s simply far longer than any other. Conquering your own mind is also what makes the 1650 the most rewarding!
    -Mitchell Reynolds, MD
  11. 400 IM: The amount of stamina it takes to even finish the race, paired with the skill needed to execute all the turns and transitions while maintain speed makes it truly grueling.
    -Nathan Kozycki, MI
  12. 200 fly- especially that third 50 where you’ve already done a 100 fly. Your arms are weak and you’re trying to increase your kick, but your legs are also dead. And above all you still have a whole 100 fly left. It’s also really hard to learn how to swim it smart. (If it’s any consolation I’m a 400 IMer and I still think 200 fly is worse.)
    -Miranda McDonnell, CA
  13. 200 back without a doubt. No other event even comes close to destroying your legs like it does, and having to do the whole thing staring at the ceiling with no idea how you’re doing compared to the other swimmers is awful.
    -Ryan Smith, WA
  14. 200m butterfly definitely! My arms feel like jelly and I tend to run out of breath on the 3rd lap. The water feels so heavy by then. I feel very drained after.
    -Joanna Michelle Latayan, Philippines
  15. 200m backstroke, because who likes staring at the ceiling for that long??
    -Noah Crawford, PA
  16. The 200 fly. You lose momentum after the first 100 and there is no way to pace and conserve energy in butterfly. Once you’re tired, you’re done.
    -Kevin. Klotz, CT
  17. The 200 butterfly is the hardest event for two reasons: 1. because I want a counter, and 2. because once you hit 150, you just want to die but know your coach will kill you if you stop.
    -Dalton Piper-Harris, PA
  18. I would say the 200 fly is the hardest event. It’s so physically tiring and it becomes a mental race- whoever has the best attitude about the race will have an easier time racing it! If you think negatively before the 200 fly, you’re going to have negative results. That’s why I think the 200 fly is the hardest event.
    -Samantha Eaton, ME
  19. 200 breast because it requires brute force to get the stroke started after the glide and after 2 or so minutes, and that really makes the body start to deteriorate.
    -Andrew Feller, NE
  20. I would say the 500 freestyle. 500 freestylers have to be able to hold fast splits in a long race. Plus, as an outsider being thrown into that event, there’s not really a game plan; the whole race has to be a sprint.
    -Lauren deTorres, NJ
  21. For sure the 200 Backstroke, because if your legs aren’t ready, not only will you swim slow, but there is a great chance they will fall off.
    -Walter Ellard, GA
  22. The hardest event is definitely the 200 free… because i don’t know to sprint or pace. I’d rather swim the 500 because you know what speed to go the entire time there. The 200 is uncertain.
    -Mia Colclasure, NJ
  23. The 200 fly. It hurts, and then hurts some more. After that the second leg of the race starts.
    -Caelan Haney, NY
  24. The hardest event is whatever your best event is because that’s generally where you have the highest expectations, where you put the most pressure on yourself to work hard and see results.
    -Daniella Peters, WI
  25. I think the hardest event is 200 free because you have to go out at a good pace and get faster each 50. It’s between a sprint and mid distance and it’s very hard to sprint all 8 laps.
    -Melanie Lumkong, NJ


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Swimmer A
4 years ago

The mile… still sayin it. The mile.

4 years ago

Great response by #24

4 years ago

Great point by 9

4 years ago

The hardest event to swim right is certainly the 50 free as there’s no room for error. Of course, without diminishing the exacting and highly specific training that is required to perform in this event, the pain of the actual event is quite fleeting.

The most painful event is a stupidly swum 200 LCM when you feel great at the 100, misjudge how much you should speed up and over-swim the 3rd 50, then limp home the last 50. However, when swum and split perfectly, the 200 fly can be sublime, smooth and, dare I say it, easy.

The 400 IM remains the greatest event of all time, worth every yard of training and every ounce of pain. No event… Read more »

Louisiana Swimmer
4 years ago

I think there needs to be a distinction on what is the hardest even to complete with little effort and what is the hardest even to swim by giving it all you got

in my opinion I think 200 breast and 200 fly are hardest to complete and 200 breast (LCM) and 200 free and 400 IM are the hardest to do when you are giving it all you got

But when you also think about it, the hardest race is which ever is your prime because that race you will by default try your hardest

PA swimmer
4 years ago

Number 24 makes a very good point

4 years ago

200 LC free, if you swim it like Chad Le Clos in Rio final

Rick Paine
4 years ago

200 meter back produces the highest sustained levels of lactic acid

About Bryana Cielo

Bryana Cielo

Bryana Cielo Shortly after Bryana Cielo’s birth, she developed her love of water at her family beach house–and hasn’t stopped since. At the conclusion of her swim lessons at age 7, it was recommended that she try out for the local summer swim team. After her first season, she won the …

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