Courtesy: Donna Hale
Lately I have been seeing a lot of articles about what events in swimming at the toughest to swim. As a swim mom of nearly two decades, here are my rankings which I know will create some debate. I have watched thousands of races and swimmers. So here goes.
1. 400 IM. This is the event of an all around tough athlete. It requires mental toughness, physical power, and a certain amount of crazy. Ask anyone who has swam and finaled in the 400 IM. It takes courage and skill to do it once. Competing in it twice in one day is a really fun kind of torture that an athlete with a swimmer’s heart understands. A 400 IM’er is the total package.
2. 200 Fly. The 200 fly is mental toughness, majestic beauty, and a fair amount of pure power all rolled into one event. Go out too fast and you die. Take it too slow, and you cannot come back. But it is pure joy to watch someone do it right. Again to do it twice when you final is the ultimate test of endurance. Think Michael Phelps! 200 fly is a personal favorite.
3. 1650 Free. It requires training designed for distance which too many programs do not offer at club level. If you do the mile you are the one begging teammates to please stay around and count. Many spectators who don’t have an athlete in this race use this event to run to the snack bar. This event requires practice and pacing. If your splits are off then you can add a minute or even two to your best time. Needless to say, it takes brains, bravery and a bold can-do attitude.
4. 200 Free/500 free. I have these events as a tie. They fall in that nowhere land between sprint and distance. Sprint these all out like a 50 and you’ll die. Hold back too much and you will feel like crying when you hear the bell and then have to see the clock. Athletes who can master this event are smart and talented.
5. 200 back. Doing anything on your back for 200 yards or meters is tough, but few things are harder than swimming on your back this far. Your flipturns must be a thing of accuracy and beauty. Get it wrong and you could hit your head, miss the wall, or lose the benefit of powering off the wall. The bonus is you get to breath a lot.
Honorable Mention: 50 free. Sprinters love the 50 free. This is the event of “make no mistakes or else.” The 50 free is swimming in the fast lane. It is an unleashing of the beast in the swimmer. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. Most of the time swimmers either love it or hate it.
What do you think are the toughest events in swimming?
Donna Hale has been swim mom for more than 17 years. Her daughter swims for The University of Lynchburg Hornets in NCAA.