Recently, it has been shown that some medusae are capable of swimming very efficiently, i.e. with a low cost of transport, and that this is in part due to passive energy recapture (PER) which occurs during bell relaxation. We compared the swimming kinematics among a diverse array of medusae, varying in taxonomy, morphology and propulsive and foraging modes, in order to evaluate the prevalence of PER in medusae. We found that while PER was common among taxa, the magnitude of the contribution to overall swimming varied greatly. The ability of medusae to utilize PER was not related to morphology and swimming performance but was controlled by their swimming kinematics. Utilizing PER required the medusae to pause after bell expansion and individuals could modulate their PER by changing their pause duration. PER can greatly enhance swimming efficiency but there appear to be trade-offs associated with utilizing PER.