LEN Makes Mixed Relays Official for European Championships

Last week, the governing body for all European Aquatics more popularly known by the acronym LEN announced plans to add mixed relays to all European Championships, perhaps paving the way for the events at more high-profile international meets.

Beginning in 2014 in Berlin, the European Long Course Championships will feature a mixed 400 free and 400 medley relay; later this year at the short course championships in Chartres, France we will get 200 relays of each variety. The relays will be made up of 2 men and 2 women in any order, which will make for interesting strategies on the medleys.

In case you’re curious, we did a quick analysis on what the likely medley orders will be on average. In most countries, the biggest differences between men’s and women’s times are on the front-half on the backstroke and breaststroke. That implies that we’ll more often see men swimming backstroke and breaststroke, with women swimming fly and free. This plays right into the strengths of many of the major countries in Europe anyhow – Sweden (Sjostrom, Alshammar); Great Britain (Halsall, Smith); and The Netherlands (Dekker, Kromowidjojo) have great butterfliers and freestylers on the women’s side.

This is a format that we saw experimented in 2010 at the first edition of the IOC’s Youth Olympic Games; the feedback there seemed to be positive, as that event pushed the envelope with several unique rules across the sports.

Here’s a comparison of the average of the world’s top-25 swimmers in the 100 long course events, and 50 short course events, in 2011:

Long Course

Men Women Difference
100 LC Back 53.62 59.88 -6.26
100 LC Breast 60.18 67.25 -7.08
100 LC Fly 51.94 57.86 -5.92
100 LC Free 48.32 53.98 -5.66

Short Course

Men Women
50 SC Back 23.61 26.93 -3.31
50 SC Breast 26.63 30.46 -3.82
50 SC Fly 22.86 25.72 -2.87
50 SC Free 21.28 24.26 -2.98

Len also announced that beginning in 2013, they would alternate their short course European Championships with the Short Course World Championships. That will put the European Short Course Championships in odd-numbered years. At present, they’ve been run every year, but up against short course Worlds they usually get sub-par participation.

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There was a meet in Australia with mixed relay: the one where Libby swam 52:99, a then would be WR, but not sanctioned by FINA..

Mixed relays are great!It will be great to see relay strategies from the coaches.I would love to see a 4x50medley and free too(mixed or not)!Pure speeeed!


While the statistics above generally favor women over men on the fly/free, I think if the US were to compete they’d do best with men on the last two legs (Phelps/Adrian). This is primarily because Soni and Phelps are so far ahead of the field. It also doesn’t hurt that Franklin/Coughlin are .1 or so from the best in the world, and Adrian is a great anchor (especially when running down some poor girl 5 seconds slower).

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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