Swimming and Counting the 500 FREE

Basics for 500 FR:

  • There are 10-50s, or 20-25s in a 500 FREE. 

  • There must be a counter to count laps for the swimmer.  Teammates are great counters, and some meets will allow parents to be on deck.  

  • Swimmers and counters should know the heat and lane.  The cards will be on the opposite side of the blocks.  

  • Counters typically put the "3" in first, which means the swimmer is on the 3rd-25 or 75 yards. (more details below)

  • After the 17th lap, the cards change to double red.

  • Be careful to not drop the counter board in the water!

  • Remove the counter boards right before the swimmer hits the wall, so he doesn't hit it.  

  • Counters get wet!

Race Strategy:

  • Resist the urge to sprint the first 100.  Be strong, powerful, and as calm as possible.  
  • Use a familiar breathing pattern and stick to it.  Talk to your coach about a specific pattern for you.  
  • Flip turns should be fast and efficient.  (Make sure you are practicing them at race pace during practice!)
  • Maintain perfect technique.  Do not get sloppy.  The more tired you get, the more you should focus on technique.
Swim through the 500 with a few visuals below:  
  • Dive off the blocks. Typically, there is no card with a "1" for the first 25.   
  • You will flip turn after the first 25, and swim back to the wall with the blocks. That was the first 50, or completion of 2 laps.
  • Once you flip again at the block side, and head back toward the counter, you are on the 3rd lap (75 yards) and your counter will have the "3" in the water.  

  • Flip turn again, and head back to the wall with the blocks. That was the first 100 yards!
  • Continue on, and you will see the 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15.  
  • When you see the 17, you are so very close to finishing!  Swim as hard as you can, because it is almost over!  

  • Make your turn and sprint back to the wall with the blocks.  
  • At the wall, turn again, and up ahead there will be bright double red rectangles on the cards. Make your last turn and sprint to the finish!

YOU DID IT!!!!! Warm down and go get some rest!

Our team members love to count for one another.  To prompt teammates to pick up the pace we pump the counter up and down.  If the counter is not moving, that means you are swimming your goal splits. Additional USA swimming tips can be found at Swimming the 500 FREE.