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A single stroke includes both arms.
Charles Laberge/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
When you measure the number of strokes per minute for a swimmer, you must count both arms, according to the authors of, "Swim Smooth: The Complete Coaching System for Swimmers and Triathletes." Your strokes per minute gives you a measure of the effort that you're putting in. Combined with the distance you travel, you can use strokes per minute to assess your efficiency in the pool.1.
Have a friend or coach time how long it takes you to perform three strokes, using a stopwatch. In strokes such as the butterfly, where both arms move together, the movement of both arms together counts as a single stroke. In strokes such as the backstroke, where the arms move independently, a stroke cycle is measured from the beginning of the stroke with one arm to the beginning of the next stroke with the same arm.2.
Divide the number three by the time it took you to take three strokes. For instance, if it took you 5 seconds you would divide by three by five to get 0.6.3.
Multiply the dividend by 60 to get your strokes per minute. For instance, with a dividend of 0.6 you would multiply by 60 to get 36 strokes per minute.
- According to "Swim Smooth," swimmers will typically have a stroke rate of 35 to 110 strokes per minute, with most non-elite swimmers falling in the 50 to 65 strokes per minute range.
- Charles Laberge/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images