Examination of components of a 200 yd freestyle race may provide useful information for understanding how pacing strategy contributes to successful performance. PURPOSE: To compare 50-yd splits of a 200-yd freestyle race in higher performing and lower performing swimmers to assess if pacing strategy differs between groups. METHODS: An ex post facto design was used employed to create a dataset of 200 yd freestyle results. Split times were generated for each 50 yard segment of a 200 yd race for two performance groups of swimmers; the first and last four finalists in eight conference championships each for NCAA Division I and NCAA Division III (16 meets total). Standardized splits were calculated as a percentage of total race time. Pacing between groups was compared separately for each NCAA Division using a 2x4 (group x split) Mixed Model ANOVA. Significant group x split interactions were followed with independent samples t tests to compare each split time between groups. Stepwise Multiple Linear Regression was used to examine the contribution of splits to final place using both absolute and standardized split times. RESULTS: A significant interaction between Group and Split was found for Division 1 (p=0.002) and Division 3 (p=0.00) absolute data, as well as standardized data (p=0.024 and p=0.001, respectively). Subsequent independent t-tests revealed the third 50 of top performers (23.42 ± 0.59 s) to be significantly faster (t=8.263, p=0.000) than lower placing swimmers (25.29 ± 0.61 s) for Division 1. Similarly, for Division 3 swimmers the third 50 of top performers (26.08 ± 0.22 s) to be significantly faster (t=5.696, p=0.000) than lower placing swimmers (28.60 ± 2.46 s). Regression analysis suggested that the third 50 of the race significantly predicted place and explained 52.4% of the variance in place (b = 0.724, R2 = 0.524, p = 0.000) in Division 1 athletes. Likewise, In Division 3, the third 50 also significantly predicted place and explained 34.4% of the variance in place (b = 0.586, R2 = 0.344, p = 0.000). CONCLUSION: The third 50 is most indicative of success in the 200y freestyle for NCAA men in both Division 1 and 3, despite high variability in Division 3 data. Thus, top performers in both divisions place more emphasis on the latter half of the race, specifically in the third 50.



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