Of all the common swim race distances, the 100m swim is relatively short.
But, what is a good 100m swim time? What is the average 100m swim time for men and what is the average 100m swim time for women?
In this guide, we will discuss how far a 100m swim race is in terms of 100m swim vs 100yd swim, the average 100m swim times by age, sex, and level, and what constitutes a good 100m swim time for women vs men by age.
Let’s jump in!
How Far Is a 100m Swim?
The length of many regulation competition swimming pools is 25 meters, so a 100m swim is two complete laps down and back and then down and back again.
If you are swimming in an Olympic-sized swimming pool that is 50m long, each length of the pool is 50m, so a 100m swim is one full lap down to the end and back.
In the United States, many recreational swimming pools and even competition swimming pools are measured in yards instead of meters.
Yards are slightly shorter than meters, but if a pool is 25 yards, a 100-yard swim would be two full laps or four lengths, down and back and then down and back one more time.
The conversion between yards and meters means that 100 yards is 91.44 meters. A 100m swim is equivalent to 109.33 yards.Therefore comparing a 100-meter swim vs. 100-yard swim reveals that a 100m vs. 100-yard swim is 9.33 more yards and a 100-yard swim vs 100m swim is 8.56 meters short.
This may not seem like much, but for competitive swimmers, the difference between a good 100-yard swim time and a good 100m swim time may only be a second or so but still is a noticeable difference.
What is a Good 100M Swim Time?
The men’s 100m freestyle world record1World Aquatics. (n.d.). World Aquatics. https://www.worldaquatics.com/swimming/records?recordCode=WR&eventTypeId=®ion=&countryId=&gender=M&pool=LCMis 46.96 seconds, which is held by David Popovici.
The women’s 100m freestyle world record2World Aquatics. (n.d.). World Aquatics. https://www.worldaquatics.com/swimming/records?recordCode=WR&eventTypeId=®ion=&countryId=&gender=F&pool=LCM(in a 50m pool) is 51.71 seconds which is held by Sarah Sjoestroem.
Unfortunately, unlike many other popular swim distances, there isn’t much information about the average time to swim 100m by age and sex.
For example, Swimming Level3Swimming Level – Swimming Calculator, Times and Standards. (n.d.). Swimminglevel.com. https://swimminglevel.com/ which has average swimming times based on age and ability, has standard times for swim distances starting at 200m, but there is nothing available for 100m.
According to Swimming Level, a good 200m time is three minutes and 46 seconds (3:46). This is the average 200m swimming time across all ages and sexes, meaning that it represents the 50th percentile across all 200m swim times from the data used.
Because a 200m swim is twice as far as a 100m swim, we can divide this time presented as a “good 200m swim time” by two to ballpark a good 100m swim time.
This means that a good 100m swim time is one minute and 53 seconds based on the average across all sexes and age groups because 3:46 divided by two is 1:53.
However, it is important to consider that we are determining this “good 100m swim time“ from the average 200m swim times.
Because the 100 meter swim is only half as long as the 200m swim, most swimmers should be able to swim at a faster speed (faster 25-meter swim split) for a 100m swim pace vs. a 200-meter swim pace.
This means that most likely saying that 1:53 for a good 100m swim time is a bit generous and that you would need to be swimming 100m faster to actually have a “good“ 100m swim time.
Average 100m Swimming Times for Men
So, what is a good 100m swim time for men?
We can use the same process as above when calculating a good 100m swim time across all ages and sexes by looking at the Swimming Level data for the average 200m swim times for men specifically.
According to these charts, a good 200m swim for males is 3:40.
Again, this represents the 50th percentile 200m swim time for men of all ages and experience levels.
Therefore, we can say that a conservative number for a good 100m swim time for men is 1:50.
Here, again, the caveat is that this is extrapolating a good men’s 100m swim time from 200m swim times, so you would likely want to have a faster 100m swim than one minute and 50 seconds to really be considered a “good” 100m swim.
The table below presents the average 100m swim times by age for men extrapolated from the 200m swim times for men.
Remember that your times should be a little bit faster than these since these are the 100m splits for a 200m swim.
Average 100m Swimming Times for Women
Now let’s answer the question: “What is a good 100m swim time for women?“
As can likely be surmised, the average female 100m swim times are slower than the male 100m swim times because female athletes tend to be slower than male counterparts due to a higher body fat percentage and lower lean body mass ratio.
Particularly with a short swim like a 100m event, swimming power is very important so you will find that a good female 100m swim time is going to be noticeably slower than a good male 100m swim time.
The average 200m swim time for women of all ages is three minutes and 56 seconds.
When we divide this by two, we find that the average 100m female swim time would be 1:58.
The table below uses the average 200m swim times for females to estimate the average 100m swim times for females.
Remember that your times should be a little bit faster than the ones in the table since the data is pulled from a swim race that is twice as far.
Swimming Level describes the swimming abilities listed in the charts above both in terms of experience level, meaning how long the swimmer has been training in the sport, as well as percentile or how “good“ the swimmer is relative to other age-matched swimmers in the sport.
In this way, you can look at what constitutes a good 100m swim time based on your experience level, meaning how long you have been swimming.
You can also look at how well you stack up to other swimmers by looking at where your 100m swim time falls for your age (in which swimming level category), and then comparing it to the average 100m swim time or what that swimming level means as a relative percentile.
According to Swimming Level, the “Beginner” column refers to beginner swimmers, which are those who have been swimming for about one month but less than six months.
In terms of percentiles, a beginner swimmer’s average 100m swim time is better than 5% of swimmers of the same age.
The novice swimmer has been swimming for at least six months but less than two years. The average 100m swim time for the novice swimmer column is better than 20% of age-matched peers.
The intermediate level can be seen as the true average. This swimmer has at least two years of experience in the sport but less than five years.
The average 100m swim time represented in the intermediate column is the average 100m swim time for all swimmers of that age, as it is the 100m swim time of the 50th percentile.
Therefore, it can be said that any 100m swim time that is faster than the average 100m swim time found in the intermediate column for your age can be considered a good 100m swim time for your age.
It means that you can swim 100m faster than the average swimmer of your age.
Advanced swimmers have at least five years of experience in the sport of swimming. The average 100m swim time for the Advanced swimmer column is better than 80% of swimmers of the same age.
Finally, elite swimmers have been swimming competitively for at least five years and these times are better than “good 100m swim times,“ as they are faster than 95% of age-matched peers.
- 1World Aquatics. (n.d.). World Aquatics. https://www.worldaquatics.com/swimming/records?recordCode=WR&eventTypeId=®ion=&countryId=&gender=M&pool=LCM
- 2World Aquatics. (n.d.). World Aquatics. https://www.worldaquatics.com/swimming/records?recordCode=WR&eventTypeId=®ion=&countryId=&gender=F&pool=LCM
- 3Swimming Level – Swimming Calculator, Times and Standards. (n.d.). Swimminglevel.com. https://swimminglevel.com/