Take all four strokes, put them together and what do you have? The ultimate test – the individual medley.
The shorter race over four lengths is a sprint with no margin for error, the longer distance allows for more tactics and room to overcome a weaker stroke.
Katinka Hosszu is the world champion over both distances. The Hungarian is quite appropriately known as the ‘Iron Lady’.
The 25-year-old competes in multi-events and at the last World Short-Course Championships in Doha at the end of 2014, she came away with eight medals, four of them gold.
Not for Katinka the need for recovery time but instead she just dives straight back in – whether it be in the IM, the butterfly or the freestyle.
Katinka was taught to swim and subsequently coached by her grandfather and she remembers how she came to take up the medley.
“The way I remember the story happening, and my grandfather might say I am way off, was that in the beginning of my competitive swimming career I swam everything since I didn’t have a speciality and I just enjoyed racing.
“At the first competition that offered a 400IM for my age group I swam it and on the first try I broke the national age group record. Basically I was hooked.”
Like Katinka, Hannah Miley also swims a gruelling multi-event schedule which sees her compete up to the 800m freestyle.
The Scot is coached by her father Patrick and the family ties have brought her international medals at all levels bar Olympic.
Hannah will turn 27 during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In recent years swimmers have continued competing to a greater age than previously and Hannah believes age is merely a number.
“Lauren Boyle, Mireia Belmonte – all these girls who are my age or a year younger or older, that is why they make the difference.
“They are still progressing. Twenty five – a lot of people think that is too old, it’s a mindset and it’s those girls that are making those milestones and taking swimming to the next level.
They are the ones I admire and aspire to be like. Some people can say you are too old but you are never too old physically, it is the mental side of things. You are only old if you think it .
“We are always looking over shoulders. You are never settled, especially day one.
“It’s great. It makes you more motivated than ever and try and retain that title and get that back and that’s sport – that competitiveness of pushing each other on.”