McEvoy Outlines His Mathematical Approach to the 100 and 200 Freestyle

Australian Cameron McEvoy is not only an accomplished athlete, having won medals at the Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacific Championships and World Championships, but he has used the same work ethic and commitment that has created success in the pool to excel in the classroom.

In June McEvoy decided to follow his coach Richard Scarce from Palm Beach to the Gold Coast. He now studies physics at the University of Bond. Because of the change of location he has cut down his commuting time from an hour in Palm Beach to a quick walk through campus in Bond.

“It’s so handy just living up the road … this is so much better,” McEvoy told the Daily Telegraph in June. “With exams coming up I come in to Bond and study from about 10am then when it gets to about 3:45pm I just walk over to the pool and start training.”

“There is no rush or anything. It feels more leisurely which is good and the way I like it.”

McEvoy does not only have to find a way to balance his studies and his training, but he has do the same in the water preparing for both the 100 and 200 freestyle. The 21 year old is focusing on both the 100 and 200 freestyle, which is a challenge, especially considering the Olympic schedule.

“The biggest challenge I see for Rio is being able to overcome days 2 – 5 of the Olympic Program. Especially day 2 and day 4 as these involve both heat and semi-finals of the 200 and 100 freestyle, along with a double up of the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle relays. I have no idea why these relays were put on the days that involve those particular individual events as this will effect a large majority of the 100m/200m/400m freestyle populace, but it is what it is and this will be, from my perspective, my hardest barrier to overcome.”

In 2012 he had a best of 48.58 in the 100 freestyle and a best of 1:47.79 in the 200 freestyle. In 2013 he posted his lifetime best in the 100 finishing fourth at the World Championships in a time of 47.88. He has brought his 200 freestyle time down to a 1:45.56, which was good enough for silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Although his improvements in both events have not necessarily followed an ideal progression, he feels his training has, “So far I feel that it is coming along really nicely,” McEvoy told SwimSwam. “Richard and I have had three years of experience working together on developing the right strategies for targeting the 100 and 200 freestyle and if you could follow my progress from early 2013 up until now, you would see a really great evolution in all aspects of my training. However, even though I have improved in all areas, that doesn’t necessarily mean my overall improvement will be just as big as the sum of all the little individual improvements.”

McEvoy went on to explain how he views training and racing in a way only a physics student could, “A nice analogy to this is found in mathematics and is called the triangle inequality,” said McEvoy. “The triangle inequality basically says that the sum of the two smaller sides of a triangle will always be bigger than the largest side of the triangle (The hypotenuse). So this is how I see my training for the 100 and the 200 freestyle – the sum of all the little individual improvements in training will be bigger than the overall improvement in a race.”

“This is because when you train for the 100 and 200, you have to be almost perfect in timing when to focus on distance work and fitness and when to introduce race specific paces into training. There is a fine line that if you are on one side, it will give you nice speed for the 100 but make your 200 suffer in the closing stages of the race, and conversely, if you are on the other side you will have a nice 200 but may not have the easy speed needed for the first 50 of a 100 freestyle. I’m not sure if this is making coherent sense but it is how I imagine my 100/200 training.”

You can see some of the training sets that McEvoy shared with SwimSwam here.

Currently in his preparation for the Australian Olympic Trials McEvoy is developing a tactical approach to both the 100 and 200 freestyle that will play to his strengths, “As I continue to improve in training, I have to continue to mould my tactical approaches to races so that it aligns with where my strong points are in that particular event. So I won’t have a complete understanding of how I will be racing each race until just before the Olympic Trials and just before Rio.”

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* of a rectangular triangle


Not true. The triangle inequality applies to any triangle: the sum of the lengths of two sides of a triangle is always at least as long as the length of the third side. I suspect that somebody added the statement about the hypotenuse after the fact. In any case, pretty cool to see a world class athlete with such an intense interest in something outside of swimming.

M Palota

He is an exceptionally bright young man. He’s studying theoretical physics at Bond and, by all accounts, doing very well in class.

FYI, when the Aussies where at their London 2012 staging camp in Manchester, McEvoy visited the labs at the University of Manchester – one of the very finest centres of theoretical physics in the world – and spent the day chatting with the research scientists & members of staff in attendance.

His Twitter feed is pretty interesting as he quite regularly geeks out with some pretty cool calculations and such!


“In June McEvoy decided to follow his coach Richard Scarce from Palm Beach to the Gold Coast.”

Palm beach is on the Gold Coast……………..

Looking forward to watching the 100 free and 4×100 free relay in Rio.

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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