Americans Led Olympic Performance vs Seed Times

At the Olympics all that really counts is a swimmer’s place, but swimming is a sport measured by times. Expectations are based on times, qualification is determined by times, places are determined by times. So let’s look at some Olympic times statistics.

The American women as a whole actually managed to drop time vs time vs their seed times at this meet. Every other major nation added time. The worst performing major nation vs seed time was Australia. Whereas the American women dropped an median of .3% the Australian women added a median of .6%. That gap of .9% might not seem like a lot, but in a 55 second race that’s half a second.

Here the top 8 women’s nation’s performance vs seed. (top 8 as determined by this) (negative is faster, positive is slower)

All USA AUS CAN CHN GBR JPN HUN SWE
Average 0.6% -0.1% 0.8% 0.4% 0.9% 0.1% 0.7% 0.4% 0.8%
Median 0.6% -0.3% 0.6% 0.4% 0.3% 0.1% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Count 496 26 26 24 25 16 21 19 12
Standard Dev 2.2% 0.8% 1.0% 1.1% 1.8% 0.9% 1.2% 0.9% 1.0%

The American men also performed the best vs their seed times, though the margin wasn’t as big as their counterparts.

Here the top 8 men’s nation’s performance vs seed:

All USA AUS JPN GBR RUS BRA CHN GER
Average 0.5% 0.0% 0.5% 0.3% 0.2% 0.1% 0.9% 0.4% 0.7%
Median 0.4% 0.1% 0.6% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3% 0.8% 0.3% 0.4%
Count 550 26 23 21 18 20 21 25 16
Standard Dev 1.3% 0.6% 0.8% 0.9% 0.9% 0.8% 1.1% 0.7% 1.0%

An interesting detail in those tables is the count of data points. 496 women’s events to 550 men. Those counts aren’t representative of the total number of events contested at the Olympics. The Russian swimmers who were re instated weren’t on the FINA entry list I used. Also there were a few no times that weren’t included either. Those small details aren’t enough to overcome the fact that there were noticeably more men’s swims than women’s swims at the meet.

Individuals

Time drops

There were plenty of standout individual time drops. The biggest time drop by percentage for the men belonged to T. Thierry Sawadogo of Burkina Faso who dropped from a seed of 28.38 to 26.38 (7%) in the 50 free. The biggest women’s drop belonged to Bunturabie Jalloh of Sierra Leone who dropped from a seed of 51.56 to 39.93 (23%!!!) in the 50 free.

Here’s the top time drops in the whole field for the men:

Name Event Country % Change Seed Final Time
T. Thierry Sawadogo 50 Freestyle BUR -7.0% 28.38 26.38
Mael Ambonguilat 50 Freestyle GAB -7.0% 29.25 27.21
Christian Djidagui Nassif 50 Freestyle CAF -6.7% 32.17 30
Albachir Mouctar 50 Freestyle NIG -3.7% 27.57 26.56
Sitraka Anthonny Ralefy 100 Butterfly MAD -3.3% 56.6 54.72
Olim Kurbanov 50 Freestyle TJK -3.3% 26.64 25.77
Santisouk Inthavong 50 Freestyle LAO -3.2% 27.42 26.54
Dionisio Augustine 50 Freestyle FSM -2.8% 26.92 26.17

The top time drops in the competition for the women:

Name Event Country % Change Seed Final Time
Bunturabie Jalloh 50 Freestyle SLE -22.6% 51.56 39.93
Chloe Sauvourel 50 Freestyle CAF -20.2% 46.55 37.15
Laraiba Seibou 50 Freestyle BEN -12.4% 37.67 33.01
Mariama Djoulde Sow 50 Freestyle GUI -10.6% 44.59 39.85
Miri Alatrash 50 Freestyle PLE -4.9% 30.25 28.76
Naa Ba-Matraf 100 Butterfly YEM -4.4% 1:14.43 1:11.16
Vitiny Hemthon 50 Freestyle CAM -4.2% 30.67 29.37
Angelika Sita Ouedraogo 50 Freestyle BUR -4.2% 30.74 29.44

All of the top  time drops came from swimmers who, while important to the spirit of the competition, were irrelevant to the actual competition for the medals. Instead I looked at the top time drops by percentage among swimmers who got a second swim in their event. Simonas Bilis‘s drop from 22.10 to 21.71 (1.8%) in the 50 free topped the men. The women were led by Mireia Belmonte Garcia who dropped from 8:27.94 to 8:18.55 (1.8%) in the 800 free.

As you would expect, many of the meet’s most impressive and surprising results made an appearance on the top drops list. Adam Peaty‘s 100 breast (1.4%), Joseph Schooling‘s 100 fly (1.1%), Dimitriy Balandin‘s 200 breast (1.4%), Pernille Blume‘s 50 free (1.6%) Simone Manuel‘s 100 free (1.5%), and Katinka Hosszu‘s 400 IM (1.3%) all were in the top 8 time drops.

Men’s top time drops (from swimmers who got a second swim):

Name Event Country % Change Seed Final Time
Simonas Bilis 50 Freestyle LTU -1.8% 22.1 21.71
Adam Peaty 100 Breaststroke GBR -1.4% 57.92 57.13
Dmitriy Balandin 200 Breaststroke KAZ -1.4% 2:09.22 2:07.46
Duncan Scott 100 Freestyle GBR -1.3% 48.66 48.01
Yasuhiro Koseki 100 Breaststroke JPN -1.3% 59.66 58.91
Ippei Watanabe 200 Breaststroke JPN -1.2% 2:08.83 2:07.22
Joseph Schooling 100 Butterfly SIN -1.1% 50.96 50.39
Chase Kalisz 400 IM USA -1.1% 4:09.54 4:06.75

Women’s top time drops (from swimmers who got a second swim):

Name Event Country % Change Seed Final Time
Mireia Belmonte Garcia 800 Freestyle ESP -1.8% 8:27.94 8:18.55
Aliaksandra Herasimenia 50 Freestyle BLR -1.7% 24.52 24.11
Pernille Blume 50 Freestyle DEN -1.6% 24.47 24.07
Simone Manuel 100 Freestyle USA -1.5% 53.52 52.7
Yaxin Liu 200 Backstroke CHN -1.5% 2:09.44 2:07.56
Ye Shiwen 200 IM CHN -1.4% 2:11.23 2:09.33
Siobhan Haughey 200 Freestyle HKG -1.3% 1:58.48 1:56.91
Katinka Hosszu 400 IM HUN -1.3% 4:29.89 4:26.36

Time adds

On the other side of the coin are under performing swimmers. Again most of the largest time adds came from swimmers who were unlikely to ever get a second swim. The more interesting time adds came from swimmers who still got a second swim. I ranked the biggest time adds among swimmers who were still able to qualify for a second swim. Laszlo Cseh “led” the men in this category with a seed of 1:52.91 and time of 1:55.14 (2%) in the 200 fly. The women were “led” by Viktoria Gunes in the 200 breast. She entered with a seed of 2:19.64 and went 2:23.49 (2.8%).

8 largest time adds from men who got a second swim:

Name Event Country % Change Seed Final Time
Laszlo Cseh 200 Butterfly HUN 2.0% 1:52.91 1:55.14
Cameron McEvoy 100 Freestyle AUS 1.9% 47.04 47.93
Cameron McEvoy 50 Freestyle AUS 1.7% 21.44 21.8
Craig Benson 200 Breaststroke GBR 1.4% 2:09.07 2:10.93
Giedrius Titenis 100 Breaststroke LTU 1.4% 58.96 59.8
Yakov Toumarkin 200 Backstroke ISR 1.4% 1:55.96 1:57.58
Michael Phelps 100 Butterfly USA 1.4% 50.45 51.14
Kosuke Hagino 200 IM JPN 1.3% 1:55.07 1:56.61

8 largest time adds from women who got a second swim:

Name Event Country % Change Seed Final Time
Viktoria Gunes 200 Breaststroke TUR 2.8% 2:19.64 2:23.49
Kanako Watanabe 200 Breaststroke JPN 2.7% 2:20.90 2:24.77
Femke Heemskerk 200 Freestyle NED 2.6% 1:54.68 1:57.68
Emily Seebohm 200 Backstroke AUS 2.5% 2:05.81 2:09.00
Missy Franklin 200 Backstroke USA 2.4% 2:06.34 2:09.36
Sarah Sjostrom 50 Freestyle SWE 2.0% 24.17 24.66
Franziska Hentke 200 Butterfly GER 1.4% 2:05.77 2:07.59
Missy Franklin 200 Freestyle USA 1.4% 1:55.59 1:57.12

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13 Comments on "Americans Led Olympic Performance vs Seed Times"

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Baker\'s Pearl Earrings

Didn’t expect to see Ye Shiwen on the biggest drops list

Her 200 im semi was very good, but she added from that in the final.

Ye Shiwen should also be listed in the top add list for her 1.8% add to her seed time in the final.

I think one of the most impressive time drops for a top swimmer was Katie Ledecky with her 100 relay splits of 52.64 and 52.79. Add a 0.5s correction and these times are 1.135% and 0.856% lower than her seed time of 53.75 and her seed time was a large drop from her previous best. If she had swum the individual 100 I think she probably would have made the finals.

But the USA has its trials too late!…

Maybe other countries should follow that lead instead

SuperSwimmer 2000

Yes, how much did we read this in the comments section before Rio? And where are all those people now?

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