How Did Kristof Milak Break the World Record In Men’s 200m Fly? (DATA ANALYIS)

By Stefano Nurra

During the 2019 World Championship in Korea, Kristof Milak broke the world record in the men’s 200m butterfly in what was the most stunning swim of the entire event.

In my opinion, thinking about Milak in this race is like thinking about Superman or some other superhero. I was at the meet watching the race and remember the whole arena making a standing ovation just for him, which has only occurred for a few swimmers before.

He destroyed Michael Phelps’ record, swimming an incredible time.

It appears that, in spite of a fairly-severe infection of COVID-19 in the fall, Milak is back on track for Tokyo after another impressive swim of 1:51.40 at the 2021 Hungarian Championships in March.

Analyzing his World Record race from 2019 was amazing, and I tried to gather as much data as possible.


The first point we can see is the race management. the laps for every 50m were:

  • 24.66
  • 28.22
  • 28.69
  • 29.16

It was definitely a very aggressive approach, and Milak found himself second after the first 50 meters.

If we compare this race with the men’s 200m free, we can see that the first 50m isn’t very different. Milak’s first 50 split in the 200 fly would have been 4th-best in the final of the men’s 200m free in Gwangju at the World Championships.

The rest of the race is obviously different. In a 200m fly the energy cost used is different compared to the 200m free.


Kristof Milak is very consistent in the stroke rate. He has just a minor difference between the start and finish of the 200 meters, but nothing too drastic.

Checking the distance per stroke, we can see that in the first 50m he manages to cover more ground, 226.7cm on average.

In the second and third leg he loses about 3 cm per length: 223.2 cm in the second 50 and 220.4 cm in the third 50. The last 50m show us a significant decrease in the distance per stroke average, 204.1 cm. Therefore, there is a close relationship between the distance per stroke and the lap time.


I think this is a good opportunity to talk about the stroke counts. This parameter is easy to use in practice but unfortunately doesn’t show the whole story.

If we compare this parameter with the distance per stroke, we can observe that the stroke count for the third 50m and last 50m is always 20 but the distance per stroke was notably different.


This difference will make more sense if we evaluate the length of the underwater phase.Kristof milak men’s 200m fly

In the third 50m the underwater phase is 6.9 meters long, meanwhile in the last 50m the underwater phase is 7.7 meters long. This explaining the difference in the distance per stroke but the same stroke count in both 50m stints. So, if we want to use the stroke count parameter during a training session, we need to be sure the underwater phase is always the same.

The first 50 is made up of 17 strokes and 12.7 meter underwater; the second 50m is characterized by 18 strokes and an underwater phase of 9.1 meters.

In the underwater phases it’s interesting to see the amount of dolphin kicks each time:

  • 7 in the 1st
  • 5 in the 2nd
  • 3 in the 3rd
  • 4 in the 4th

Kristof milak


In an event like the 200m fly energy management is essential to putting up good times. This is an individual balance that every athlete interprets in a different way.

Some people start faster, some use a higher stroke rate, while others tend to focus on the distance per stroke.

We have seen many different stroke techniques and energy management tactics and it’s important for each athlete to analyze and find out which best suits them. The energy cost of the underwater phases, connected with the speed and length of them, is one of the most important parameters.

Comparing Kristof Milak and Michael Phelps we can see that they have two very different approaches when taking on the 200 fly.

Phelps took a great advantage in the underwater phase with long powerful underwaters, while Milak is much faster in the swimming phase.


If we check the speed evolution during the race, we can see that the only weak point of Milak’s performance is the speed of the turns.

Kristof milak men’s 200m fly

You can compare the speed between the swimming phase and the underwater phase by calculating the speed from the 5 meters before the turn to the 15 meters after the turn.

In Milak’s case the difference between the two phases is very small, meaning Milak doesn’t gain very much from the turns.

If we check the graph representing the speed from 5 meters before the wall to 15 meters after the wall, we can see that in the first two turns Milak’s underwater phase is slower than his swimming phase and in the last turn the speeds are almost the same.

This means Milak can improve a lot in the underwater phase so maybe we will see Milak improve his times by large margins.


The last point I would like to highlight is the breath count:

  • 11 in the first 50m
  • 16 in the second one
  • 19 in both the third and fourth 50m.

We have already seen the stroke counts: 17 in the first 50m, 18 in the second one, 20 in both third and fourth. This data confirms the point about the balance between energy cost and the speed of every phase of the race.

Breathing, from the metabolic point of view, is extremely important to swim a good 200 fly. This could seem odd for some young coaches, who usually tell young swimmers to not breathe very often.

This suggestion to minimize breathing is correct when speaking about the 100m butterfly and especially the 50m butterfly. This is because it’s important to not change the body position when swimming butterfly, and breathing can alter it.

For the 200m fly we cannot recommend the same technique.

The swimmer must breathe.

So, over time a swimmer must learn to breathe correctly, without changing the body position, and then apply this breathing technique even in moments of fatigue. In the 200-meter butterfly, breathing is essential but the swimmer must be able to keep the same body position. 

Kristof milak WR analysis I


Thanks to Kristof Milak and to his coach Attila Selmeci, for the lesson and the opportunity to talk about the world record race and the techniques used to swim the 200m butterfly. 

This story comes courtesy of STEFANO NURRA

  • Analyst of Turkish Swimming Federation
  • Analyst of Energy Standard

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flex tape cant fix that
7 months ago

Great analysis

Max Hardie
7 months ago

Excellent analysis, would be nice to see more of this.

Mr Piano
7 months ago

He went fast

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Mr Piano
7 months ago

Out in 52.88, then he’s gotta be back under 58, it’s that simple.

Mr Piano

He doesn’t break 1:50 but he breaks 1:51!!!

Sun Yangs Hammer
Reply to  Mr Piano
7 months ago

Do I dare say he beat the WR by swimming faster than that time? Hard hitting analysis

Mr Piano
Reply to  Sun Yangs Hammer
7 months ago

Kinda reminds me of that thing Brett Hawke did when he showed “how to break the wr in 100 free and fly” by writing down splits faster than the wr splits lol

Reply to  Mr Piano
7 months ago

its science…

Kyle Boyek
7 months ago

Awesome analysis, that video with live Velocity, SR and SL is amazing. Would be great to have an analysis of something like Ben Proud’s 50 Free, given how precise he is with his race execution.

7 months ago

How did Kristof Milak break the World Record in men’s 200m fly? Simple. He swim four laps of a 50m pool butterfly. Duh!

Reply to  DCSwim
7 months ago

Actually he swam two laps (four lengths) in the 50m pool

7 months ago

Greats analysis. Must say all except for the underwaters and breathing the first 100, kristof Milak is one of the few athletes who can swim the 200 fly similar to Michael Phelps and do it successfully also because of his stroke.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  PFA
7 months ago

I would say Phelps was one of the few athletes who could swim the 200 fly almost as fast at Milak.

Mr Piano
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
7 months ago

Phelps laid down the groundwork for what Milak is doing today, he completely revolutionized the stroke.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Mr Piano
7 months ago

The only revolutionary thing was his underwaters, and Milak doesn’t even do those. Armbruster and his swimmer Keig “revolutionized” fly by changing to dolphin kick 90 years ago. I get that Phelps breathed every stroke, but that’s also why Dressel can kill his best textile in a 100. I wouldn’t call breathing every stroke revolutionary, unless you’re going to call Dressel devolutionary in going back to every other.

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
7 months ago

I think MP also helped make more popular two strong dolphin kicks per stroke cycle.

Look back at that Sydney 2000 final, guys like Malchow and Esposito practically take a half-kick as they finish their pull.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
6 months ago

Compared to the flyers in the 80s and 90s Phelps butterfly looks much more flat and this more efficient. I don’t know how much that was his innovation and how much of that was just a trend that was happening anyway. But that seemed innovative to me in the early part of Phelps career.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  PFA
7 months ago

This is great “food” for coaches & others, thanks. Milak said – & visual analysis can confirm – that he patterns his stroke after MP’s. Also, as Rowdy pointed out in he USA feed, & I believe FINA announcers Bruce McAvaney or his partner (NOT Nicole Livingstone, I believe – anone know his new partner’s name?) at 2019 Worlds said, Milak was exactly the same split as MP – 52.88 at the 100.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
6 months ago

Thanks, however, she was a female partner.

Last edited 6 months ago by Coach Mike 1952
7 months ago

He did it very carefully that’s how

He said what?
7 months ago

I love watching Milak’s stroke.

Reply to  He said what?
7 months ago

Agreed! That last 35 meters at Worlds was incredible to see. He completely dusted that field. Brutal for those next to him watching him pull away.

About Giusy Cisale

Giusy Cisale

 GIUSY  CISALE Giusy Cisale ha frequentato il Liceo Classico "T.L. Caro" dove era impegnata nella redazione della rivista scolastica. Nel 2002 è tra le più giovani laureate in Giurisprudenza dell'Università Federico II di Napoli (ITA). Inizia il percorso di Avvocato Civilista, conseguendo nel 2006 l'abilitazione all'esercizio della professione di avvocato. Si avvicina al nuoto …

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