This article originally appeared in the 2022 Summer edition of SwimSwam Magazine. Subscribe here.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games will be the 22nd edition of the international multi-sport event for members of the Commonwealth. It will take place in Birmingham, England, from July 28–August 8, 2022.
The meet has an extensive reputation. Some of the greatest swimmers of all time have participated in the games since its first edition in 1930 — it has been a place for many memorable performances and records.
A perfect stage for legendary performances
The legendary Dawn Fraser, arguably the greatest female swimmer of all time, set the world record in the women’s 100-meter freestyle twice at the Commonwealth Games. In 1962, in Perth, it was the first time that the one-minute barrier was cracked in an international meet in the event.
In 1978, in Edmonton, Tracey Wickham broke her own women’s 800 freestyle world record by six seconds, and the record stood until 1987.
In 1994, in Victoria, Kieren Perkins became the first man to break two world records in the same individual race. He set the 800 freestyle world record en route to winning the 1500 freestyle also in world record time. A performance for the ages.
In 2002, in Manchester, Ian Thorpe set the final world of his amazing career. His 3:40.08 in the men’s 400 freestyle is, as of today, the second-fastest performance of all time. If it weren’t for the super suits era of 2008-2009, it would certainly remain as the longest-standing world record in history.
As we see, the games own a massive reputation and have been the perfect stage for legendary performances and world records. That’s why so many swimmers used to focus on the Commonwealth Games instead of other major meets, like the Pan Pacific and European Championships.
But, in 2022, we will have an edition of the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest. Maybe the Commonwealth Games won’t be as prioritized as they used to be.
Oh, but it will be. Some Olympic champions, like Emma McKeon, Kyle Chalmers, Tatjana Schoenmaker and Ariarne Titmus have announced that they will bypass Budapest to focus on the Commonwealth Games instead (we’ve since learned Chalmers will attend Worlds, but only in the 100 fly individually).
And there’s more: No less than a dozen Olympic champions in individual events will be competing in Birmingham. This is way more than we usually see. In 2018, six individual Olympic champions competed, which was already an above-average number. In 2014 and 2010, it was only two. And, in 2006, just one.
OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS IN INDIVIDUAL EVENTS EXPECTED TO COMPETE AT THE 2022 COMMONWEALTH GAMES
Note: Penny Oleksiak has since withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games.
|Swimmer||Country||Olympic champion in…|
|Tatjana Schoenmaker||South Africa||2021|
|Chad le Clos||South Africa||2012|
|Tom Dean||Great Britain||2021|
|Adam Peaty||Great Britain||2016/2021|
Even if some of them don’t qualify or withdraw for any reason, we will still have many more Olympic champions than in the previous editions of the games. Also, more Olympic champions will be competing at the Commonwealth Games than European Championships and Asian Games.
Throughout its history, the Commonwealth Games have been a stage for many legendary swimmers and legendary performances. That’s why so many athletes want to shine at the meet — some of them are even putting the Commonwealth Games above the World Championships in terms of priority. We cannot expect anything other than a spectacular competition.