What Is a Decent Swim Time for 100M?

Swimming in a pool makes calculating your times easier.

Swimming statistics show the average time for 100 meters is about two minutes, according to U.S. Masters Swimming. But that could be the best of times or the worst of times. You might start out as a beginning adult swimmer, just grateful to complete the distance without stopping. With improved technique and endurance, your swim times improve, along with your dissatisfaction for your previous performance.

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As of 2021, the world record for the 100-meter swim stands at just under 47 seconds, according to the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA). Before judging your performance, consider the factors that influence your time.


Pool Length

FINA restricts competition pools to precise dimensions because the size of a pool can determine race times. Smaller pools yield faster times because you can push off hard from the wall, and typically swim faster under water before surfacing. Olympic pools measure 50 m, so for a 100 m swim, you make one turn to complete the distance. In the 25 m pools, you push off the wall three times. Generally, your 100 m time in a 25 m pool is lower than it would be in a 50 m pool.

Interval Basics

Swim times vary according to age and ability. In general, average lap swimmers in a 100 m pool comfortably complete a 100 m swim in two minutes. A swimmer who has an easy interval time of two minutes would consider a 100 m time of one minute 30 seconds very good. A competitive swimmer who swims a non-stop mile on a 100 m interval time of one minute 10 seconds would likely be upset if she could not complete a sprint 100 m lap in under one minute.


Race vs. Laps

Your race time for the 100 m will likely be lower than a lap interval for a 100 m because in a race, you usually perform a dive at the start. The dive, and the ensuing underwater speed you obtain from it, shaves time off the swim. Pushing off from the wall as the pace clock reaches "the top," or the even minute, at the start of a 100 m distance will yield a slower time than a diving start. For example, your race 100 m might be one minute 30 seconds and your lap time might be one minute 35 seconds.


Flip turns help you shave time off of your 100 m swim. A tight, quick somersault and strong push off the wall is the most efficient way to change directions in a pool. A bad flip-turn, though, slows you down and works against you. Turning too soon leaves you too much space to get a tight, coiled position for a push-off, and flipping too late can leave you without any room to maneuver. Use open turns, or those in which you simply grab the pool wall and reverse direction above water, if your flips are a flop, or if you have difficulty holding your breath during underwater turns.