It's not a question of the better competitive time but being able to meet the standard without struggling to avoid not meeting the standard. 200 meters in the pool is not the same as losing balance while fording a body of moving water and having ability to prevent becoming dead from drowning. 200 meters is not the same as going down the hoist to recover a pilot who is panicking. There are mission reports of PJ going down the hoist to recover a pilot who is in such sate of mind they are unable to get on the pickup device. There is one documented instance of off the coast of Vietnam of the pilot being in such panic to get into the helicopter he causes himself to fall out of the horse collar on reaching the helicopter to fall to his death.
The swim distance and max time allowed is not there to put competition win accolades in the trophy case but to keep one safe in the performance of their duties and to be there to be assistance to others, perhaps a student, who falls while fording a moving body of water. It is a screening standard of if this ability is possessed than the training time and practice exposed to during the courses required for award of 3-level AFSC can improve this ability to the desired level needed.
Thank you for the reply, I greatly appreciate it. I was just curious because I know that even if you meet the standards, you might not make it through the training. In relation, I know that having a 9-minute mile and a half time makes life easier in training. I have no problem with the swim, it was just the only PAST requirement that I didn't know a good time for.
Many of my former college teammates were able to swim 200 meters in under 2 minutes. Now, this is a competitive sports time in ideal conditions with years of training. If you look at the PAST (keep in mind is the bare minimum standards) the swim times are averaged about 30 seconds per length. That is about 4 minutes for a 200. Very achievable with proper form and practice under your belt. However, just as Yukon said above its more a test of "keeping your cool" in all conditions. Now as I have not gone through SERE and I am purely speaking as a former collegiate swimmer I cannot say what you would need for a minimum time or even a goal to strive for since I do not know your level of swimming. Just keep practicing, working on the fundamentals and endurance and it will continue to decrease your time.