PVC Technical Strategy 50

90: The Magic Number

If you want to experience a massive breakthrough in your swimming over the next three months, remember the number 90. It’s the number of strides (per minute) that world-class runners, cyclists, and distance swimmers take. At the 2012 Olympics in London, 15-year-old Katie Ledecky broke the world record in the 800 freestyle, holding 86 strokes per minute. She repeated her gold medal performance four years later in Rio holding 90 strokes per minute! Your challenge is to maintain 80-90 strokes per minute in all of your main freestyle sets for the next week. To get a sense of how fast that is, stand in front of a mirror and time the number of freestyle strokes you take in one minute. I did it myself, so I know what I’m asking you to do. After each day of practice, fill in your results on the chart below. If you commit to it over time, you should notice that you’re catching or staying up with swimmers who are typically faster than you. The greats like Ledecky set the standard for the world; now it’s your turn to step up! 

P.S. I also recommend swimming in front of the mirror each night to maintain the feel of 90 strokes per minute.

If you want to be the best, you must go above and beyond!


  • Platinum: OMG, I think I did it!
  • Gold: It felt close. 
  • Silver: I had it for a while but ran out of gas. 
  • Bronze: I couldn’t do it, but there’s always tomorrow . . .

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