Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2022) 21, 233 - 244   DOI:

Research article
Start Fast, Swim Faster, Turn Fastest: Section Analyses and Normative Data for Individual Medley
Dennis-Peter Born1,2, , Michael Romann2, Thomas Stöggl3,4
Author Information
1 Swiss Swimming Federation, Section for High-Performance Sports, Bern, Switzerland
2 Swiss Federal Institute of Sport Magglingen, Magglingen, Switzerland
3 University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
4 Red Bull Athlete Performance Center, Salzburg, Austria

Dennis-Peter Born
✉ PhD Swiss Federal Institute of Sport Magglingen. Department for Elite Sport Hauptstrasse 247, 2532 Magglingen, Switzerland.
Publish Date
Received: 13-05-2021
Accepted: 15-04-2022
Published (online): 01-06-2022
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The aims of the study were to provide benchmarks and normative data for 100 m, 200 m, and 400 m short-course individual medley (IM) races, investigate differences between the various swimming strokes and turns involved in IM, and quantify the effect and contribution of various race sections on swimming performance. All IM races (n = 320) at the 2019 European Short-Course Swimming Championships were video monitored and digitized with interrater reliability described by a mean intra-class correlation coefficient of 0.968. Normative data were provided for the eight finalists of each event (FINA points = 886 ± 37) and the eight slowest swimmers from each event (FINA points = 688 ± 53). Contribution and effects of race sections on swimming performance were investigated using stepwise regression analysis based on all races of each event. Regression analysis explained 97-100% of total variance in race time and revealed turn time (β ≥ 0.53) as distinguishing factor in short-course IM races in addition to swim velocity (β ≥ -0.28). Start time only affected 100 m (β ≥ 0.14) and 200 m (β ≥ 0.04) events. Fastest turn times were found for the butterfly/backstroke turn. Breaststroke showed slowest swim velocities and no difference between fastest and slowest 100 m IM swimmers. Therefore, breaststroke may provide largest potential for future development in IM race times. Correlation analyses revealed that distance per stroke (r ≥ -0.39, P < 0.05) rather than stroke rate (r ≤ -0.18, P > 0.05) is a performance indicator and may be used by coaches and performance analysts to evaluate stroke mechanics in male IM swimmers despite its more complex assessment. Performance analysts, coaches, and swimmers may use the present normative data to establish minimal and maximal requirements for European Championship participation and to create specific drills in practice.

Key words: Acyclic phases, reference values, elite athlete, race analysis, swimming

           Key Points
  • Turn performance, in addition to swim velocity, was revealed as distinguishing factor of international swim races.
  • Coaches and performance analysts should use benchmarks and normative data provided here to establish minimal and maximal requirements for European Championship participation and to create specific drills in practice.
  • Breaststroke may provide potential for future development of Individual Medley race times.
  • Distance per stroke rather than stroke rate should be used to evaluate stroke mechanics, despite its more complex assessment.
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