Why You Should Count Strokes

Stroke counting is a mental tool used by swimmers that can help increase efficiency in the pool. Learn more about the benefits of tracking stroke count in swimming with this helpful guide.

When it comes to improving your swim technique, extra equipment isn’t always needed. Stroke counting is a training tool you can use to increase your efficiency, preserve energy and improve your mental focus. The only thing required is yourself, as stroke counting is exactly what the name suggests – counting your strokes.

“Stroke counting essentially boils down to how many strokes it takes to swim a lap,” says Division I swimming and diving coach Marc Christian.

Regardless of which stroke you’re training for, monitoring your stroke count can help you keep track of your progress and timing. In this training guide, Christian breaks down the benefits of keeping count.


One of the biggest benefits to stroke counting is that it can help you increase your distance per stroke, or DPS. DPS is, simply, the distance traveled with each individual stroke. Monitoring your DPS can be one of the most effective ways to measure your performance in the water.
Stroke counting allows you to set a baseline to determine your DPS. Once you know where you’re starting from, you can focus on lengthening your stroke. Longer strokes equate to a smaller stroke count, meaning increased efficiency on your laps.


Increasing your efficiency through stroke counting offers multiple benefits. Not only can you help improve your time, but you can potentially save energy, too. The fewer strokes you take, the more energy you can preserve.

“For example, if you can reduce your stroke count from 20 per lap to 15 over the course of 100 freestyle, that would be a reduction of 20 total strokes,” Christian says. “That’s a lot less effort.”


Swim practice can last more than two hours, and it’s important to stay focused throughout. Stroke counting can help keep you more in tune with what you’re doing in the water. If you’re paying attention to each individual stroke, it can put more of a spotlight on your technique and form.

In a sport where every second counts, stroke counting in swimming can help you improve your technique, which, in turn, can make the difference between success and coming up short. For more tips on how to improve your strokes, check out our guides breaking down the freestyle stroke,  butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke.