Swimming Individual Medley Rules
The individual medley is one of the most fun races to watch but also one of the most technically difficult races to swim. Coming in 200m or 400m races, the individual medley is swam in a specific order, with one-quarter of the total distance being a different stroke. The swimmer must complete the race in a specific order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Since all four strokes are utilized in this race, there are several guidelines that have to be met in order to avoid disqualification. Here is a comprehensive summary of USA Swimming’s rules for the individual medley races.
The forward start must be used to start this race. The forward start includes standing up on the starting block with the dominant foot in front of the non-dominant foot. The starter will say, “take your mark,” and the swimmer will assume the starting position with both hands gripping the edge of the block. On the starter’s cue, the swimmer will begin the race. All strokes must be swam according to the designated USA Swimming rules, and the swimmer must remain on the breast aside from when completing a turn.
Individual Stroke Rules
The race begins with the butterfly stroke, which is swam using the dolphin kick, and the shoulders must remain at or past vertical toward the breast. The swimmer may use one or more dolphin kicks for every one pull underwater. Both arms must be brought forward simultaneously. During the backstroke, the swimmer must remain on their back utilizing the flutter kick. Some part of the swimmer must be on the surface.
Following the backstroke is the breaststroke, where the swimmer must utilize the frog kick and one arm pull, where the elbows remain underwater with the hands breaking the surface, during the conclusion of one arm cycle. The stroke cycle must be one arm pull and one leg kick. Lastly, the freestyle must be completed using the flutter kick and forward arm movement. Similar to the backstroke, some part of the swimmer must break the surface at all times unless completing a turn.
The turns made when transitioning between strokes must adhere to the finishes for each stroke. During the butterfly leg of the race, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously. Following the legal finish, the swimmer may transition to their back using any method as long as the shoulders are at or past the vertical towards the back when the swimmer leaves the wall. During the backstroke finish, the swimmer must touch the wall on their back.
Following the finish, the swimmer may transition to the breaststroke using any method, as long as the shoulders are at or past vertical to the breast when the swimmer leaves the wall, and the breaststroke pullout or a stroke cycle must be initiated. Similar to the butterfly, the swimmer must finish the breaststroke leg using a simultaneous touch. Following a legal touch, the swimmer may complete the turn and begin the freestyle leg. The freestyle leg must be finished with the swimmer touching the wall using any part of the person.
A backstroke to breaststroke turn, or bucket turn, may be utilized as a transition turn between the backstroke and breaststroke legs of the race. The bucket turn is performed by the swimmer touching the wall with their dominant hand. Once the swimmer’s hand hits the wall, they must push away from their head while throwing their feet in the air and connecting with the wall before pushing off the wall on their front and assuming the breaststroke form.
This turn was utilized for backstroke races in 1991, prior to the rule being changed. This turn makes it difficult for a swimmer to get disqualified unless the swimmer fails to push off on their front. The swimmer must push off toward the breast during the IM.
What are the rules of individual medley in swimming?
The rules of the individual medley require the swimmer to follow the individual rules for each of the strokes. The forward start should be used. Each stroke should be swam for one-fourth of the total distance and should follow the prescribed rules. For the butterfly and breaststroke legs, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously. For the backstroke leg, the swimmer must finish on their back, and following the legal touch, the swimmer may turn using any method. For the freestyle leg, the finishing touch can be made using any part of the swimmer’s body after completing the distance.
What is the order of strokes in individual medley?
The order of the strokes in the individual medley is butterfly, backstroke, breastroke, and freestyle. Each stroke should be swam for one-fourth of the total distance.