SwimSwam Pulse: 59% Prefer Olympic Medley Relays To Free Relays

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers to pick the most entertaining Olympic relay:


Question: Which Olympic relay do you find most entertaining?

  • 4×100 medley relay – 59.4%
  • 4×100 free relay – 26.9%
  • 4×200 free relay – 13.7%

More than half of voters preferred the medley relay to either of the free relays at the Olympic Games, per our latest poll.

The poll tested readers preferences in a vacuum – without specifying men’s, women’s, or mixed relays and without factoring in the current fields. The medley relay gained more than double the votes of either free relay, with fans enjoying the changing strokes, and perhaps the abundance of big names in the medley, where nearly every individual gold medalist between the 100s of each stroke is typically represented, as opposed to only a few 100/200 free medalists dotting the free relay lineups.

The shorter relays clearly polled better than the longer 4×200 free relay, too. Behind the medley, the 4×100 free relay got 26.9% of the votes. That relay has been a show-stopper on the men’s side across this century in Olympic competition, with some famous chase-downs and upsets.

The 4×200 free relay pulled just 13.7% of the votes, coming third in our poll and supporting the idea that viewers generally find the sprints more entertaining that the more distance-oriented races that take longer to complete.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters to pick the most impressive world record set at the Tokyo Olympics:

What was the most impressive world record of the Tokyo Olympics?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...



A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner

Leave a Reply

Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sun Yangs Hammer
9 months ago

Caelebs swim is simultaneously the least impressive and most impressive on the grounds he missed the turn and finish and still broke the WR but also could have cut another .3 off that swim easily

9 months ago

There should be no backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly in the Olympics. The events simply have too much crossover and give out a disproportionate number of medals – to the overwhelming favor of the richest countries. There are no events in track for running backwards or sideways, so why have events for slower swimming? And imagine a track athlete these days sweeping the sprint and the hurdles and long jump – that simply doesn’t happen, because it’s much harder to do that than to win at both freestyle and butterfly.

Reply to  Notanyswimmer
9 months ago

Everybody who comes up with this argument thinks that they’re clever and interesting. But, turns out, you’re not.

There are medals for:
-Running fast
-Running and jumping over things frequently
-Running and jumping over things occasionally
-Running and jumping high one time
-Running and jumping far one time
-Running and throwing things
-Spinning in a circle and throwing things
-Spinning in a circle and throwing a lighter thing
-Running in a circle
-Running on the road
-Running without leaving the ground (race walking)
-Running and then doing some of the other above mentioned things

And that’s without even leaving the sport of Athletics. If we leave athletics you… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
9 months ago

Except all those athletics events are so specialized and competitive that it is nearly impossible to sweep more than 2 distances, much less 2 disciplines. Meanwhile in swimming, there is great crossover between sprint freestyle and butterfly and even backstroke. It’s no coincidence how swimmers always get the most medals.

Reply to  Notanyswimmer
9 months ago

About swimming styles. In swimming, speed is regulated by limiting the movement of a person, the rules tell you how you should move. Swimming styles are artificial speed limits.
Caleb Dressel goes 100 meters twice and swims 47.02 and 49.45 only by limiting himself to movements.

Reply to  Braden Keith
9 months ago

Love your descriptions of the different sports Braden.

Reply to  Braden Keith
9 months ago

Slightly off topic here, but while I’m not advocating for the removal of Olympic swimming events, I have sometimes thought we could do with more separation. How many total medals a sport deserves to have is an impossible question to answer and can be argued for eternity, but how similar the events are is a more valid discussion. It does seem a little unfair how it’s possible for a swimmer to win 7 or more medals at one games when most other competitors can only ever win one medal no matter how good they are at their sport. As a former competitive swimmer, I think we do have to concede that the swimming events have a lot less specialisation and… Read more »

Reply to  rascal
9 months ago

Hassan is about to get medals in 1500,5000 and 10000. She’s amazing.

Fraser Thorpe
Reply to  rascal
9 months ago

As someone pointed out below, Hassan is about to medal in 3 events, and the US just had a rep in long jump and high jump. I certainly take your point, but I think the issue isn’t just crossover it’s wear and tear. Track and field seems to take more out of athlete’s body at a meet. They can’t back up as well as swimmers. So that also limits their ability to multi event.

Reply to  Notanyswimmer
9 months ago

You came to the wrong place to say that, bud.

Reply to  Notanyswimmer
9 months ago

I wish I had as much audacity as this guy to come to a site named SwimSwam and propose that we ditch 75% of the sport.

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Notanyswimmer
9 months ago

This is SwimSwam not RunRan

Fraser Thorpe
Reply to  Notanyswimmer
9 months ago

Sir, this is a Wendy’s

9 months ago

I feel like there are more lead changes in the medley which also makes it more exciting. I wonder how people would feel about a 4×200 medley.

Reply to  Thomas
9 months ago

I’d love for there to be a 4×200 medley, I could finally may be a relay asset to a college team

Last edited 9 months ago by Yabo
Reply to  Thomas
9 months ago

Who’d you think would win a 4×200 medley relay? I’d see the USA (Murphy-Fink-Harting-Smith), GBR (Greenbank-Wilby-Guy-Scott), Japan (Irie-Sato-Seto-Matsumoto), Russia (Rylov-Chupkov-Kudashev-Malyutin) and maybe AUS (Larkin-ZSC-Temple-Chalmers) as the main contenders. GBR would probably be the favorites IMO.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »