Distance Per Stroke

What is distance per stroke, how it's measured, improved, and what good and bad scores look like.

What is Distance Per Stroke (DPS)? 

Distance per stroke (DPS) is also called Stroke Length and measures how far a swimmer travels with every stroke. 

How is it measured? 

DPS is measured by eliminating the distance of into account the underwater portion of the length. Calculating DPS according to the distance spent stroking, and the number of strokes over that distance, in the users desired display settings

What is a good DPS? 

For sprinters, studies have shown that the swimmer who can attain the highest DPS at slower speeds are the same swimmers who go the fastest. For distance swimmers, a higher DPS usually translates to higher swimming efficiency and energy in the tank for later splits as fewer strokes need to be taken and drag is reduced.

That being said, a high DPS does not translate directly to a higher speed. Too much glide between strokes can cause the swimmer to slow down on every stroke, requiring extra effort to speed up again during the pull to maintain speed. By powering through the water at a faster stroke rate, a swimmer might be able to get faster even while sacrificing DPS.

Typical Results

DPS or Distance per Stroke is measured in meters per second (m/s). Check out the chart below to where your own DPS results sit within the typical ranges for your preferred stroke and pool length. 


How to Improve DPS? 

To generate a high DPS swimmers need to have a consistent pull on the water, right from the catch at the front to the exit at the back. They also need to keep a good streamline throughout to reduce drag both during the pull and during the glide between strokes.

If a swimmer’s DPS decreases, it could mean:

  • Catching less water, or exiting too soon - often in an effort to increase stroke rate without ramping effort
  • Strokes are faster and more powerful - may not require correction depending on race distance
  • Kicks have slowed down
  • Overall form and timing needs improvement