Hardest (SCY) Event Bracket: The Final Four Is Half Freestyle Events

After a bunch of blowouts in round 1, we saw things get very tight in round 2, including a brutal 200 free vs 500 free matchup.

Round 2 Recap

200 Butterfly (68%) over 200 Breaststroke (32%)

A matchup of two stroke 200s with a lot of similarities. From the perspective of this breaststroker, we collectively got this one wrong, guys.

200 Freestyle (52%) over 500 Freestyle (48%)

Our closest round 2 matchup, and another clash of very similar events. The shorter distance being harder seems counter-intuitive, but those who have swum the 200 of anything at a high level know the pain of balancing pacing and aggressiveness in what is effectively a maintained sprint.

1650 Freestyle (63%) over 200 Backstroke (37%)

Another fairly close one. The 200 back got by the 1000 free in round 1, but just barely. Up the ante to a full mile and the freestyle event is moving on. You could call this one “burning shoulders” vs “burning legs.”

400 IM (92%) over 50 Freestyle (8%)

A blowout. We promise we didn’t stack the bracket to come up with this matchup. The 50 free gets a surprising amount of credit from high-level swimmers and coaches for its toughness, if only because the margin for error is pretty brutal. But it was never going to beat the 400 IM, which is probably the odds-on favorite to win the entire bracket.

Consolation Bracket

9th Place: 1000 Freestyle (42%)

10th Place: 200 IM (40%)

11th Place: 100 Butterfly (6%)

12th Place: 100 Backstroke (4%)

13th Place: 100 Freestyle/100 Breaststroke (tie – 4%)

15th Place: 100 IM (0%)

The 1000 free was by far the longest event in our consolation bracket, and it nipped the 200 IM in a tough battle for 9th place overall. That competition came down to just under 50 total votes.

Butterfly held a slight advantage over the other 100-yard events in the loser’s bracket. Fly did earn about 70 votes more than back. The 100 free and 100 breast were a deadlock, earning the same exact number of votes. Both were 10 votes behind the 100 back.

And while the 100 IM did indeed earn less than 1% of the votes, that 0% figure is a rounding down. The 100 IM did get 10 total votes.

Updated Bracket


Round 3 Matchups: The Semifinals

200 Butterfly vs 200 Freestyle

Which event is harder? (short course yards)

  • 200 Butterfly (71%)
  • 200 Freestyle (29%)
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1650 Freestyle vs 400 IM

Which event is harder? (short course yards)

  • 400 IM (71%)
  • 1650 Freestyle (29%)
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Consolation Bracket: 5th-8th

Which event is hardest? (short course yards)

  • 200 Backstroke (38%)
  • 200 Breaststroke (32%)
  • 500 Freestyle (26%)
  • 50 Freestyle (4%)
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So the 500 is beating the 200 back but the 1000 lost to the 200 back?

Shut the forum down I demand an investigation


Also, the 200 back beat the 1000 free 53-47 but lost to the 1650 63-37… people are stupid.

Chaitha D.

The 400im is definitely winning the title

200 fly….winner…

….just saying…it’s got to be….I mean, come on?

IU Swammer

So the options are swim a 100 fly, then you get to choose between another 100 fly or doing a 100 back, a 100 breast, and a 100 free.

The perfect high elbow

Lol. Looking at it this way really points out the absurd of how hard a 400 IM is


The mile – hands down – is the “hardest event”. Even scarier is the preparation required for laying down a great one. 🙂 .


This may be an unpopular opinion, but I definitely feel like the 200 free is harder than the 200 butterfly. I swim both events and I find that the fatigue you experience at the end of a butterfly event is much easier to cope with, as opposed to a freestyle event.

I think 2-free and 2-back are actually harder too. If you swim 2-fly correctly, you get a rest each stroke cycle–it’s all flow. 2-free and 2-back are all 6-beat kick burning your legs start to finish (but I hope 2-fly wins this)

Steven Heaney

This depends on who is voting. At an elite level where everyone is excellent Mel’s argument makes a lot of sense. For the thousands of less than peak swimmers Butterfly is a scary stroke and 200 Fly a thing of nightmares.


I thought the 200 free is pretty tough the whole way through, and when I swam the 200 fly it was 150 cruise followed by 50 of searing Yamaha pain that made me think I was becoming paralyzed


tom shields at pan ams…


*Kristof Milak has joined the chat*


I think 200 back is the most painful (especially long course). At the end of a bad 200 fly, your body gives out as your stroke collapses and that lessens the pain a bit. You don’t get that with a 200 back. Your legs just burn up, and the dang flags never appear!

Becky D

If you’re an old masters swimmer who doesn’t train nearly enough, “hard” must incorporate the difficulty in completing an event legally. That’s skewing all my answers compared to what I would have answered 40 years ago.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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