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:
|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|
|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.