Best Swimming Nations: Women's Butterflies

After some hiatus as we moved through the fall Championship season, we’re back with the 3rd installment of our “best swimming nations” feature, where we take a look at which nations are the best in each of the individual World-Championship events. Because we love our readers just that much, we’ve decided to expand our lists to the top 15 nations, so that we can speak to a wider audience.

Keep in mind that the purpose of these lists is basically to serve as a “cheat sheet” for where one might look for the up-and-coming stars of each event, rather than some sort of medal predictions. We’ve also listed the top 3 times from the country in each event in 2011. These top 3’s are simply for reference, and are not necessarily the only times considered when making the rankings.

50 fly

The top three teams on this list have accounted for all of the gold medals in the event’s 10-year (6-meet) history at the World Championships. Australia has better depth that Sweden (much better than they showed this year, in fact), but Sweden gets the edge based on the tremendous history they have. Therese Alshammar won gold in 2007, and altogether they’ve won 7 medals out of a possible 18 in the event (the Americans, by comparison, have only 1 from Jenny Thompson in 2003). Denmark is an easy choice for #1. Between Inge de Bruijn (2001 and 2003) and Inge Dekker (2011), they’ve won half of the available World Championship golds. Not surprising for a sprint event, but the Dutch have incredible depth that goes even beyond the three listed, with Hinkelien Schreuder posting a 26.14 in Eindhoven

Rank Country Top 3 swimmers (2011 time)
1  Netherlands Inge Dekker (25.57)
Ranomi Kromowidjojo (25.74)
Marleen Veldhuis (26.01) –  FWR
2  Sweden Therese Alshammar (25.37) – WR, TB
Sarah Sjostrom (25.67)
Louise Hansson (27.04)
3  Australia Marieke Guehrer (26.01)
Alice Mills (26.43)
Alicia Coutts (26.51)
4  USA Dana Vollmer (25.98)
Christine Magnuson (26.20)
Claire Donahue (26.60)
5  Brazil Daynara Paula (26.39)
Gabrielle Silva (26.77)
Dandara Antonio (26.80)
6  Great Britain Fran Halsall (25.86)
Ellen Gandy (27.01)
Jemma Lowe (27.02)
7  China (rising) Ying Lu (25.87)
Shuyuan Ling (26.64)
Luyang Jiao (26.75)
8  Italy Elena Germo (26.84)
Elena Di Liddo (27.06)
Ilaria Bianchi (27.22)
9  France (rising) Melanie Henique (25.86)
Angela Tavernier (26.76)
Justine Bruno (26.94)
10  Japan Yuka Kato (25.98)
Rino Hosoda (26.86)
Misaki Ago (27.15)
11  Canada Katerine Savard (26.49)
Chantal van Landeghem (26.85)
Sandrine Mainville (27.07)
12  Norway Sina Sutter (26.81)
Lisa Vitting (27.08)
Dorothea Brandt (27.14)
13  South Africa Vanessa Mohr (26.68)
Amanda Loots (27.30)
Marne Erasmus (27.40)
14  Norway Ingvild Snildal (26.83)
Katharina Stiberg (27.21)
Bryndis Hansen (27.66)
15  Russia Svetlana Fedulova (27.02)
Irina Bespalova (27.04)
Daria Tcvetkova (27.06)

100 fly

The Americans were not the most impressive country in this 100 fly in 2011, but Dana Vollmer won the World Championship and with just a huge level of depth. The #2-rated Australians have won the last two Olympic championships, which is nothing to be scoffed at, though their depth too fell a bit short in 2011. The Chinese are hard-rising in the race. They’ve never won a (clean) Olympic medal in the event, but that’s likely to change next year. The Netherlands has a huge drop off after the 50, though one might imagine that if some of their sprinters (Kromowidjojo, etc.) swam this race, that these rankings might look differently.

Rank Country Top 3 swimmers (2011 time)
1  United States Dana Vollmer (56.47) – TB
Claire Donahue (58.05)
Natalie Coughlin (58.05)
2  Australia Alicia Coutts (56.94)
Jessicah Schipper (57.86)
Stephanie Rice (58.18)
3  China (rising) Lu Ying (57.06)
Liu Zige (57.39)
Jiao Liuyang (57.78)
4  Great Britain (rising) Jemma Lowe (57.43)
Fran Halsall (57.44)
Ellen Gandy (57.62)
5  Sweden Sarah Sjostrom (57.29) – WR
Therese Alshammar (58.20)
Martina Granstrom (59.05)
6  Japan Yuka Kato (57.80)
Nao Kobayashi (58.64)
Rino Hosoda (58.69)
7  Brazil Daynara de Paula (58.56)
Gabrielle Silva (59.12)
Dandara Antonio (69.65)
8  France Aurore Mongel (59.33)
Diane Bui Duyet (59.43)
Melanie Henique (59.87)
9  Canada Katerine Savard (57.97)
Audrey Lacroix (59.02)
Noemie Thomas (59.65)
10  Italy Ilaria Bianchi (59.17)
Elena Di Liddo (59.43)
Caterina Giacchetti (59.88)
11  Russia Irina Bespalova (58.89)
Veronika Popova (59.14)
Maria Ugolkova (59.78)
12  Germany Sina Sutter (58.96)
Alexandra Wenk (59.64)
Theresa Michalak (59.73)
13  Netherlands Inge Dekker (57.62)
Marleen Veldhuis (59.66)
Lenneke van Schaik (1:00.62)
14  Poland Otylia Jerzejczak (59.00)
Mirela Olczak (1:00.58)
Anna Dowgiert (1:01.41)
15  South Africa (rising) Vanessa Mohr (58.66)
Mandy Loots (59.86)
Marna Erasmus (1:02.00)

200 fly

China swept the gold and the silver in this event at the 2008 Olympics, and at the 2011 World Championships they took gold and bronze. Not only that, but they have 5 swimmers who have gone sub-2:09 in the race.

Rank Country Top 3 swimmers (2011 time)
1  China Liu Zige (2:04.40)
Jiao Liuyang (2:04.44)
Gong Jie (2:07.14)
2  Australia Stephanie Rice (2:06.08)
Jessicah Schipper (2:06.64)
Samantha Hamill (2:08.79)
3  Great Britain (rising) Jemma Lowe (2:05.36)
Ellen Gandy (2:05.59)
Jessica Dickons (2:08.91)
4  United States Kathleen Hersey (2:06.89)
Elaine Breeden (2:08.14)
Teresa Crippen (2:07.63)
5   Spain Mireia Belmonte (2:06.25)
Judit Ignacio (2:07.87)
Paula Camino (2:10.56)
6  Hungary Zsu Jakabos (2:06.35)
Katinka Hosszu (2:10.06)
Liliana Szilagyi (2:10.95)
7  Canada Audrey Lacroix (2:08.61)
Katerine Savard (2:08.64)
MacKenzie Downing (2:09.57)
8  Japan Natsumi hoshi (2:05.91)
Yuka Kato (2:09.83)
Fujino Shigenobu (2:10.08)
9   Poland Otylia Jedrzejczak (2:09.01)
Mirela Olczak (2:10.30)
Paulina Sikora (2:11.47)
10  France Lara Grangeon (2:08.66)
Aurore Mongel (2:09.97)
Lia Giraudon (2:11.41)
11  Italy Alessia Polieri (2:09.65)
Caterina Giacchetti (2:09.84)
Denise Riccobono (2:10.90)
12  Sweden Martina Granstrom (2:09.01)
Ida Marko-Varga (2:09.38)
Sarah Sjostrom (2:12.77)
13  Germany Franziska Hentke (2:10.79)
Lena Kalla (2:13.09)
Katharina Schiller (2:14.04)
14  Mexico Rita Medrano (2:10.84)
Prissy Escobar (2:14.74)
Melas Mexia (2:15.58)
15  Slovenia Anja Klinar (2:09.54)
Sara Isakovic (2:17.62)
Spela Bohinc (2:20.51)


Establishing an overall ranking, past the top 4, was very tough in this category, because (maybe moreso than any other stroke) there are huge fluctuations between some countries’ abilities in the different distances. Nobody is as balanced as the Australians through all three distances, so they get the nod, but as the Chinese continue to develop their sprint acumen they’ll likely move atop this listing.

Rank Country
 1  Australia
 2  United States
 3  China
 4  Great Britain
 5  Sweden
 6  Canada
 7  Japan
 8  Italy
 9  France
 10  Germany

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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