If you have ever swum a large medley set (fly, back, breast, free) you will know just how hard it is! Most people only want to swim freestyle in training as generally they are training for a freestyle event. If you are in a hurry to get fit – the fastest way to get fit in the water is through medley training.
Assuming that you can swim all 4 strokes – adding medley swim sets into your swimming program has many benefits let’s take a look at them.
Butterfly and breaststroke use a similar catch movement to freestyle – especially butterfly. Not only does butterfly help build your catch strength it also helps build your pull through power for freestyle.
Training medley will make you super fit in the water. Sometimes during an open water swim, swimming freestyle is not the only thing that will fatigue us. Choppy water, waves, contact from other swimmers and going around buoys are all aspects that may zap our energy. Being more generally fit in the water as opposed to only freestyle fit will help you to cope and recover from these things easier.
Hitting the last leg of a medley swim (the freestyle leg) is generally when we are most fatigued, having gone through the butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke getting to freestyle can have you gasping for breath. What better way to train your freestyle under fatigue!
Swimming all 4 strokes puts our body through more range of motion, increasing mobility. Backstroke especially is good for the shoulders turning them over in a different way than freestyle.
Swimming up and down the pool can at times get tedious, mixing it up with some medley swimming keeps training interesting and as you have read has many benefits.
Don’t be afraid to mix things up in your swimming training. Your freestyle is not going to go backward, in fact, chances are it will improve!
Carl is head coach at Swim360 Coach, a former Olympian and national champion freestyler. Carl now uses his skills and passion for coaching and competing in the open water.