Do you want to improve your performance? Learn all about medley training!

Training & Technique
Written by: arena coaches at 4 March '22 0
You are reading: Do you want to improve your performance? Learn all about medley training!

Medley training is not easy, but it is certainly something you should learn to do if you want to become a more complete swimmer. Training for all four strokes increases your aerobic capacity and gives you a better feel for the water.

There are various benefits to be gained from medley training:

1. Training variety. We have already seen that variety is the key to successful training.

2.  Varied stimuli. A variety of different stimuli means more and different motivation and greater attention to detail.

3. The possibility of taking part in different races from usual. This can have huge benefits when it comes to your own races.

The strategies to be followed are very simple:

Work on your weaker strokes at least once or twice a week

Change strokes frequently during individual training sessions

Train all the different strokes in the right order

  • 20×50 m medley (5x butterfly/5x backstroke/5x butterfly/5x freestyle)


Train your legs. Swim the butterfly and breaststroke with your arms stretched along your sides and the backstroke and freestyle partly on one side

Work on changing stroke while turning during sets for your legs

  • Swim “complete” strokes when entering and exiting turns
  • pay very careful attention to turns


Having grasped the basic principles of medley training, you can start to apply them in order to:


1. Train your aerobic capabilities with different kinds of sets

“There and back” method

  • butterfly/backstroke/breaststroke/freestyle > freestyle/breaststroke/backstroke/butterfly.

For example,  8×100 medley, 1x “there” 1x “back” with 20” recovery

“Pairs” method

  • Butterfly/backstroke, backstroke/breaststroke, breaststroke/freestyle, freestyle/butterfly. For example, 16×50 medley, 1x “pair” with 10” recovery


2. Train the different strokes in progression:

25 butterfly

50 butterfly/backstroke

75 butterfly/backstroke/breaststroke

100 medley

75 butterfly/backstroke/breaststroke

50 butterfly/backstroke

25 butterfly

3. Train your weakest strokes

sets x 150 m (without freestyle):

  • 50 butterfly/50 backstroke/50 breaststroke
  • 25 butterfly/25 backstroke/25 breaststroke


4. Train at race pace with intervals (for the 200m medley)

25 butterfly with 5” recovery

50 butterfly/backstroke with 10” recovery

50 backstroke/breaststroke with 10” recovery

50 breaststroke/freestyle with 5” recovery

25 freestyle

Here is one final piece of advice

When you are doing medley training sessions, try and train with and against other swimmers, who are stronger that you at other strokes. This will really help you improve your weaker strokes. You will also find that medley training even helps you improve your favourite stroke.


Are you looking for the ideal training swimsuit for your own specific needs? Take a look here!


Written by:

arena coaches

Swim coaches, trainers and experts will give you all kinds of tips for performing at your best in both training and races.