The Least Painful Events in Swimming

The Least Painful Events in Swimming

By Mike Gustafson//Contributor  | Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Much has been made about the “most painful events in swimming.” (Clearly, the 200-meter breaststroke or the 400 IM. No other event comes close in terms of sheer, gut-wrenching pain.) Swimming is, by default, incredibly difficult, combining the aerobic and anaerobic, limited oxygen, strenuous full-body motion and coordination. Almost every event produces a little bit of pain — especially when you, you know, try.

However, what would be swimming’s least painful event?

It goes without saying that I believe there is no “easy” event in swimming.  Any event takes a certain amount of discipline and skill and training. Any swimming event, when effort is applied, produces a certain degree of painful, lactic acid. That’s just what happens when effort is exerted.

But, for the purposes of pure fun, I wondered what would be swimming’s least painful events. This was actually more difficult to consider than its opposite category of figuring out swimming’s hardest events. But here we go…. Here are the Least Painful Events in Swimming…


5. 100-yard backstroke.

Okay, before you all freak out on me, this event definitely isn’t easy. However, this event is included in this list because everything else is a little bit harder. If you’re a good kicker, this event isn’t too bad. A few turns, some breath-holding, and some leg-burning, then you’re done. It’s a splash and dash, but it’s not as bad as its big, bad, 200-yard distance.


4. 500-yard freestyle.

What?! How can the 500 free be not painful??? Well, if you’re unprepared for the 500 freestyle, it’s definitely one of the most painful events in swimming. But, if you understand how to pace, breathe, and kick, you should be in good shape. The 500-freestyle is about finding a good, smooth rhythm. Find that right rhythm, and the pain will lessen (somewhat).


3. 50-yard freestyle.

Sorry, sprinters. In comparison to every other swimming event, this event isn’t as painful as other events. There’s not enough time spent in the water. YES, the 50 freestyle takes an incredible amount of skill, talent, and hard work. No one can “just swim” the 50 freestyle well. However, if you do swim it, you likely won’t experience that mind-numbing pain associated with any 200-yard event or that 400 IM. It’s quick, it’s fast, and it’s done.


2. Relays.

Something about your teammates cheering you on makes everything a little less painful. You dive in and you’re not just swimming for yourself; you’re swimming for your teammates. Every turn, every breath, you hear them cheering for you. You know when you finish, they’ll be there, clapping, high-fiving, giving you a good-job shoulder slap. Something about this communal nature of relays lessens the pain. Relays make any swim event a little less painful.


1. The 50 Breaststroke

In my opinion, the 200-meter breaststroke is swimming’s most painful event; ironically, swimming’s least painful event is the 50 breaststroke. I can’t remember a time I’ve felt any great amount of pain swimming this event. (Granted, I wasn’t very good.) You dive, pullout, spinspinspinspinspinspin, and you’re done. Unlike the 50 freestyle, you breathe every stroke — there’s no oxygen deficiency here. And in yards, you have the dive, turn, and pullout, so you’re basically only “swimming” about three-and-a-half feet. (Kidding, kind of.)



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