The Olympic Medal Count, by countries, matters. It is a measuring stick of success, a reflection of a nation’s swimming governance, health and performance. Since 2004, Team USA has had the golden bullet, Michael Phelps, and he’s back for his 5th Olympic Games–like a one-man Fast and Furious franchise. However, this time, he’s focused on fewer events, 100-200 fly, 200 IM, and the 400 medley relay. Will he swim on the freestyle relays? Who knows? But after studying the team medal count over past Olympic Games… Phelps matters.
In 2004, Phelps contributed 8 medals to Team USA’s 28 total medals.
In 2008, Phelps pushed 8 gold medals into the Team USA column for their total of 31.
In 2012, Phelps helped Team USA with 6 medals, contributing to their tally of 31 again
Over the last three Olympics Phelps’ 22 Olympic medals makeup 24% of the total medal count.
On the Team USA men’s side, new talent is rising, like Ryan Murphy, Caeleb Dressel and Townley Haas. Conversely, established stars, like Matt Grevers and Tyler Clary, didn’t make the team. And Ryan Lochte, who contributed 5 medals in 2012, is in just two events in Rio, the 200 IM and the 4×200 free relay. Then there’s Nathan Adrian, quiet, dependable, the defending Olympic Champ in the 100 freestyle…but he’s facing intense competition globally, and specifically from the Aussie Physicist, The Professor, Cameron McEvoy.
On the women’s side, Missy Franklin struggled at US Trials, but secured a respectable schedule of 3 events, 200 free, 4×200 free relay, 200 back. In 2012 she contributed 4 medals. In 2016, she’s got a fight on her hands to contribute two, with the 4×200 free relay being a solid podium performance. Then there’s Katie Ledecky, racing the 200, 400, 800 free and the 4×200 relay. 4 medals is an easy bet (3 more than she contributed in 2012) and 3 medals is a lock.
In sum, Team USA heads to Rio with a fight on their hands. In past Olympics they’ve been in the same situation, 1992 and 1996, and performed well.
I got some help from our friends, the swimNERDs at Swimulator. The data? It’s magical and proprietary…but they’ll reveal some of the metrics as we near the Olympic Games, (and Swimulator will be generating a lot of data for us heading into Rio.)
By country, these are individual medal predictions and do not account for relays, and the predictions are not rounded up or down.
Team USA Men and Women – 17.3 medals
That’s a tough number. Not good. I’d pepper in 6 relay medals to bring the total to 23.3. Would you add 6 medals, or 5 medals?
17.3 would be the lowest since 1988, when Team USA won 18 total medals. In my opinion, Team USA in Rio is really competing against itself historical. It’s on them to make their mark in history.
2nd – Australia comes in at 12.5 (without relays)
3rd – Japan lands 6.6 medals (not accounting for relays)
4th – Hungry at 5.3 medals (again, no relay factored in)
5th – Great Britain at 5.2 medals
These are our predictions. We’ll dive deeper into the metrics as we near Rio and with a longer list, going through the top 20 nations’ medal count predictions.
But who cares what we think. What do you think?
This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by SwimOutlet.com. Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of SwimSwam.com, a Swimming News website.