18
Aug 08

Swimming: Analysis (incl. GRAPHS!)

TMFD2 comments • 2,294 views

The swimming is finally finished*, Michael Phelps is reaping in lucrative sponsorship deals and everyone has started watching the athletics instead, so it must be time for some stat-cruching!

The figures

There’s no doubt that this was the fastest Olympics ever:

World records set: 25 (in 21/32 events)
Olympic records set: 65 (in 30/32 events)
World records set in the LZR Racer swimsuit: 92%
Gold medals set in the LZR Racer swimsuit: 94% (89% of ALL medals)

Here’s the swimming medals table (no. gold medals shown in brackets):

Rank Nation Medal Total Mens Womens Individual Relay
1 United States 31 (12) 17 (10) 14 (2) 11 (9) 6 (3)
2 Australia 20 (6) 8 (0) 12 (6) 14 (4) 6 (2)
3 Japan 5 (2) 4 (2) 1 (0) 4 (2) 1 (0)
4 Great Britain 3 (2) 0 (0) 3 (2) 3 (2) 0 (0)
5 Germany 2 (2) 0 (0) 2 (2) 2 (2) 0 (0)
6 China 6 (1) 1 (0) 5 (1) 4 (0) 2 (0)

Well done us!

4th is a brilliant placing for Great Britain – three medals in one games is more than we’ve managed since the 80s, and to have two of them be gold, well, it’s absolutely brilliant. Rebecca Adlington broke a world record older than herself, and has automatically become an inspiration to every club swimmer grinding up and down the pool at 5am every morning.

As well as the medals, we also got a couple of 4th places and one or two swimmers in nearly every final – although you might think that’s not something to be particularly proud of, it shows how competitive we are compared to Sydney and Athens, and will make those swimmers who came in fourth even hungrier for medals next time round. Liam Tancock deserves a special mention for making three finals (backstroke, IM and medley relay), as does Fran Halsall who had a real chance to medal in the 50m free, the 100m free, the medley relay AND both freestyle relays. She looked so gutted after her last race (as well as absolutely exhausted).

Looking to the future – Rebecca and Fran are still teenagers, and at least half of the GB squad had never been to an Olympics before. In front of a home crowd, who knows what can happen in four years’ time? Hey, it took Michael Phelps two Olympics before he won gold…

America v Australia

On the whole, the non-Phelps favourites going into the games (e.g. Katie Hoff, Grant Hackett, Dara Torres) did pretty badly in terms of gold medals. Let’s find out just *how* badly they’ve done – in graphical format! Here’s the American and Australian gold medals since 1988:

Oh dear! The American women and the Australian men barely won anything this year! The Australian men failed to get a gold medal for the first time since 1976 – ouch. Where’s Ian Thorpe when you need him, eh? They were banking on Grant Hackett to deliver in the 1500m freestyle, and he just wasn’t up to the job this time. The American men obviously did pretty well thanks to SuperPhelps, and Stephanie Rice nabbed those vital medley wins to bump up the Australian women’s total from previous years. But we still can’t discount both AUS and USA’s enormous depth of talent. Here’s their total medals won since 1988:

Their overall team performances are still improving overall thanks to the demise of the Eastern European and Russian swimmers – the dip in Athens was mainly due to very strong showings from the Dutch, French and German swimmers. If Britain’s medal tally for the last twenty years was plotted on the same graph it would be lurking right at the bottom. We’ve still got a long way to go.

Tell you what though, the rest of the medals were really spread out – Brazil, Germany, South Korea, Zimbabwe and Tunisia all got golds thanks to sterling individual performances. France and China both got six medals each, and a whole bunch of European countries picked up silvers and bronzes. Swimming success is finally starting to be consistently found away from the American/Australian centres, and that’s got to be good news for anyone watching.

*Apart from the 10km open water races on Wednesday and Thursday of course – tune in and cheer on David Davies, Keri-Ann Payne and Cassie Patten.

Comments

  1. 1
    anatol_merklich on 25 Aug 2008 #

    Well done us too! Anyone predicting that Norway would get a swimming medal, let alone TWO medals and as many Olympic Records (both quickly erased though), would surely be dismissed as having drunk excessively of the chlorinated water.

  2. 2
    Sally Picklebreath on 30 Apr 2010 #

    These graphs are confusing

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