Four Years Later: The Swimming Landscape from London to Rio, Part One

The greatest virtue of the four-year Olympic cycle is how it works the sport of swimming down to a concentrated size. Every Olympics is a snapshot of what each little mini-era of swimming was all about. With Rio fast approaching, we wanted to take a look back at 2012. What did the future look like after London as it compares to what actually happened.

In the first part of “Four Years Later”, we’re going to take a look at which men were flying high coming into 2012, and who sits on top heading into 2016. What swimmers looked like they were destined for victory in London but came up short. Who “came out of nowhere” and stepped up to the big London moment? Who met expectations.

For reference, I’m going to compare the 2011 World Championship top three to the 2012 Olympic results. I’ll also talk about the 2015 Kazan results and what they suggest or don’t suggest will happen in Rio:

First Shanghai:

Event Gold Silver Bronze
50 m freestyle[4]

details
 César Cielo
Brazil (BRA)
21.52  Luca Dotto
Italy (ITA)
21.90  Alain Bernard
France (FRA)
21.92
100 m freestyle[5]

details
 James Magnussen
Australia (AUS)
47.63  Brent Hayden
Canada (CAN)
47.95  William Meynard
France (FRA)
48.00
200 m freestyle[6]

details
 Ryan Lochte
United States (USA)
1:44.44  Michael Phelps
United States (USA)
1:44.79  Paul Biedermann
Germany (GER)
1:44.88
400 m freestyle[7]

details
 Park Tae-Hwan
South Korea (KOR)
3:42.04  Sun Yang
China (CHN)
3:43.24  Paul Biedermann
Germany (GER)
3:44.14
800 m freestyle[8]

details
 Sun Yang
China (CHN)
7:38.57  Ryan Cochrane
Canada (CAN)
7:41.86  Gergő Kis
Hungary (HUN)
7:44.94
NR
1500 m freestyle[9]

details
 Sun Yang
China (CHN)
14:34.14
WR
 Ryan Cochrane
Canada (CAN)
14:44.46  Gergő Kis
Hungary (HUN)
14:45.66
NR
50 m backstroke[10]

details
 Liam Tancock
Great Britain (GBR)
24.50  Camille Lacourt
France (FRA)
24.57  Gerhard Zandberg
South Africa (RSA)
24.66
100 m backstroke[11]

details
 Jérémy Stravius
France (FRA)
 Camille Lacourt
France (FRA)
52.76   Not awarded  Ryosuke Irie
Japan (JPN)
52.98
200 m backstroke[12]

details
 Ryan Lochte
United States (USA)
1:52.96  Ryosuke Irie
Japan (JPN)
1:54.11  Tyler Clary
United States (USA)
1:54.69
50 m breaststroke[13]

details
 Felipe França Silva
Brazil (BRA)
27.01  Fabio Scozzoli
Italy (ITA)
27.17
NR
 Cameron van der Burgh
South Africa (RSA)
27.19
100 m breaststroke[14]

details
 Alexander Dale Oen
Norway (NOR)
58.71
NR
 Fabio Scozzoli
Italy (ITA)
59.42
NR
 Cameron van der Burgh
South Africa (RSA)
59.49
200 m breaststroke[15]

details
 Dániel Gyurta
Hungary (HUN)
2:08.41  Kosuke Kitajima
Japan (JPN)
2:08.63  Christian vom Lehn
Germany (GER)
2:09.06
50 m butterfly[16]

details
 César Cielo
Brazil (BRA)
23.10  Matthew Targett
Australia (AUS)
23.28  Geoff Huegill
Australia (AUS)
23.35
100 m butterfly[17]

details
 Michael Phelps
United States (USA)
50.71  Konrad Czerniak
Poland (POL)
51.15
NR
 Tyler McGill
United States (USA)
51.26
200 m butterfly[18]

details
 Michael Phelps
United States (USA)
1:53.34  Takeshi Matsuda
Japan (JPN)
1:54.01  Wu Peng
China (CHN)
1:54.67
200 m individual medley[19]

details
 Ryan Lochte
United States (USA)
1:54.00
WR
 Michael Phelps
United States (USA)
1:54.16  László Cseh
Hungary (HUN)
1:57.69
400 m individual medley[20]

details
 Ryan Lochte
United States (USA)
4:07.13  Tyler Clary
United States (USA)
4:11.17  Yuya Horihata
Japan (JPN)
4:11.98
4×100 m freestyle relay[21]

details
 Australia
James Magnussen(47.49)
Matthew Targett(47.87)
Matthew Abood(47.92)
Eamon Sullivan(47.72)
3:11.00  France
Alain Bernard(48.75)
Jérémy Stravius(47.78)
William Meynard(47.39)
Fabien Gilot (47.22)
3:11.14  United States
Michael Phelps(48.08)
Garrett Weber-Gale(48.33)
Jason Lezak (48.15)
Nathan Adrian(47.40)
3:11.96
4×200 m freestyle relay[22]

details
 United States
Michael Phelps(1:45.53)
Peter Vanderkaay(1:46.07)
Ricky Berens(1:46.51)
Ryan Lochte (1:44.56)
7:02.67  France
Yannick Agnel(1:45.25)
Grégory Mallet(1:46.81)
Jérémy Stravius(1:45.40)
Fabien Gilot(1:47.35)
7:04.81
NR
 China
Wang Shun (1:47.09)
Zhang Lin (1:46.14)
Li Yunqi (1:47.30)
Sun Yang (1:45.14)
7:05.67
NR
4×100 m medley relay[23]

details
 United States
Nick Thoman (53.61)
Mark Gangloff(1:00.24)
Michael Phelps(50.57)
Nathan Adrian (47.64)
3:32.06  Australia
Hayden Stoeckel(54.22)
Brenton Rickard(59.32)
Geoff Huegill (51.72)
James Magnussen(47.00)
3:32.26  Germany
Helge Meeuw (53.53)
Hendrik Feldwehr(59.72)
Benjamin Starke(51.83)
Paul Biedermann(47.52)

Then London:

Event Gold Silver Bronze
50 m freestyle
details
 Florent Manaudou
France (FRA)
21.34  Cullen Jones
United States (USA)
21.54  César Cielo
Brazil (BRA)
21.59
100 m freestyle
details
 Nathan Adrian
United States (USA)
47.52  James Magnussen
Australia (AUS)
47.53  Brent Hayden
Canada (CAN)
47.80
200 m freestyle
details
 Yannick Agnel
France (FRA)
1:43.14 NR  Sun Yang
China (CHN)
 Park Tae-Hwan
South Korea (KOR)
1:44.93NR
(for CHN)
Not awarded
as there was a tie for silver.
400 m freestyle
details
 Sun Yang
China (CHN)
3:40.14 OR,AS  Park Tae-Hwan
South Korea (KOR)
3:42.06  Peter Vanderkaay
United States (USA)
3:44.69
1500 m freestyle
details
 Sun Yang
China (CHN)
14:31.02WR  Ryan Cochrane
Canada (CAN)
14:39.63AM  Oussama Mellouli
Tunisia (TUN)
14:40.31
100 m backstroke
details
 Matt Grevers
United States (USA)
52.16 OR  Nick Thoman
United States (USA)
52.92  Ryosuke Irie
Japan (JPN)
52.97
200 m backstroke
details
 Tyler Clary
United States (USA)
1:53.41 OR  Ryosuke Irie
Japan (JPN)
1:53.78  Ryan Lochte
United States (USA)
1:53.94
100 m breaststroke
details
 Cameron van der Burgh
South Africa (RSA)
58.46 WR  Christian Sprenger
Australia (AUS)
58.93  Brendan Hansen
United States (USA)
59.49
200 m breaststroke
details
 Dániel Gyurta
Hungary (HUN)
2:07.28 WR  Michael Jamieson
Great Britain (GBR)
2:07.43NR  Ryo Tateishi
Japan (JPN)
2:08.29
100 m butterfly
details
 Michael Phelps
United States (USA)
51.21  Chad le Clos
South Africa (RSA)
 Yevgeny Korotyshkin
Russia (RUS)
51.44 Not awarded
as there was a tie for silver.
200 m butterfly
details
 Chad le Clos
South Africa (RSA)
1:52.96 AF  Michael Phelps
United States (USA)
1:53.01  Takeshi Matsuda
Japan (JPN)
1:53.21
200 m individual medley
details
 Michael Phelps
United States (USA)
1:54.27  Ryan Lochte
United States (USA)
1:54.90  László Cseh
Hungary (HUN)
1:56.22
400 m individual medley
details
 Ryan Lochte
United States (USA)
4:05.18  Thiago Pereira
Brazil (BRA)
4:08.86 =SA  Kosuke Hagino
Japan (JPN)
4:08.94AS
4×100 m freestyle relay
details
 France (FRA)
Amaury Leveaux(48.13)
Fabien Gilot (47.67)
Clément Lefert (47.39)
Yannick Agnel (46.74)
Alain Bernard[a]
Jérémy Stravius[a]
3:09.93  United States (USA)
Nathan Adrian(47.89)
Michael Phelps(47.15)
Cullen Jones (47.60)
Ryan Lochte (47.74)
Jimmy Feigen[a]
Matt Grevers[a]
Ricky Berens[a]
Jason Lezak[a]
3:10.38  Russia (RUS)
Andrey Grechin(48.57)
Nikita Lobintsev(47.39)
Vladimir Morozov(47.85)
Danila Izotov (47.60)
Yevgeny Lagunov[a]
Sergey Fesikov[a]
3:11.41
4×200 m freestyle relay
details
 United States (USA)
Ryan Lochte (1:45.15)
Conor Dwyer(1:45.23)
Ricky Berens(1:45.27)
Michael Phelps(1:44.05)
Charlie Houchin[a]
Matt McLean[a]
Davis Tarwater[a]
6:59.70  France (FRA)
Amaury Leveaux(1:46.70)
Grégory Mallet(1:46.83)
Clément Lefert(1:46.00)
Yannick Agnel(1:43.24)
Jérémy Stravius[a]
7:02.77NR  China (CHN)
Hao Yun (1:47.12)
Li Yunqi (1:46.46)
Jiang Haiqi (1:47.17)
Sun Yang (1:45.55)
Lü Zhiwu[a]
Dai Jun[a]
7:06.30
4×100 m medley relay
details
 United States (USA)
Matt Grevers (52.58)
Brendan Hansen(59.19)
Michael Phelps(50.73)
Nathan Adrian (46.85)
Nick Thoman[a]
Eric Shanteau[a]
Tyler McGill[a]
Cullen Jones[a]
3:29.35  Japan (JPN)
Ryosuke Irie (52.92)
Kosuke Kitajima(58.64)
Takeshi Matsuda(51.20)
Takuro Fujii (48.50)
3:31.26  Australia (AUS)
Hayden Stoeckel(53.71)
Christian Sprenger(59.05)
Matt Targett (51.60)
James Magnussen(47.22)
Brenton Rickard[a]
Tommaso D’Orsogna[a]
3:31.58
10 km open water
details
 Oussama Mellouli
Tunisia (TUN)
1:49:55.1  Thomas Lurz
Germany (GER)
1:49:58.5  Richard Weinberger
Canada (CAN)
1:50:00.3

Finally, Kazan:

Event Gold Silver Bronze
50 m freestyle[3]

details
 Florent Manaudou
France (FRA)
21.19  Nathan Adrian
United States (USA)
21.52  Bruno Fratus
Brazil (BRA)
21.56
100 m freestyle[4]

details
 Ning Zetao
China (CHN)
47.84  Cameron McEvoy
Australia (AUS)
47.95  Federico Grabich
Argentina (ARG)
48.12
200 m freestyle[5]

details
 James Guy
Great Britain (GBR)
1:45.14
NR
 Sun Yang
China (CHN)
1:45.20  Paul Biedermann
Germany (GER)
1:45.38
400 m freestyle[6]

details
 Sun Yang
China (CHN)
3:42.58  James Guy
Great Britain (GBR)
3:43.75
NR
 Ryan Cochrane
Canada (CAN)
3:44.59
800 m freestyle[7]

details
 Sun Yang
China (CHN)
7:39.96  Gregorio Paltrinieri
Italy (ITA)
7:40.81
ER
 Mack Horton
Australia (AUS)
7:44.02
1500 m freestyle[8]

details
 Gregorio Paltrinieri
Italy (ITA)
14:39.67
ER
 Connor Jaeger
United States (USA)
14:41.20
NR
 Ryan Cochrane
Canada (CAN)
14:51.08
50 m backstroke[9]

details
 Camille Lacourt
France (FRA)
24.23  Matt Grevers
United States (USA)
24.61  Ben Treffers
Australia (AUS)
24.69
100 m backstroke[10]

details
 Mitch Larkin
Australia (AUS)
52.40  Camille Lacourt
France (FRA)
52.48  Matt Grevers
United States (USA)
52.66
200 m backstroke[11]

details
 Mitch Larkin
Australia (AUS)
1:53.58
OC
 Radosław Kawęcki
Poland (POL)
1:54.55  Evgeny Rylov
Russia (RUS)
1:54:60
50 m breaststroke[12]

details
 Adam Peaty
Great Britain (GBR)
26.51  Cameron van der Burgh
South Africa (RSA)
26.66  Kevin Cordes
United States (USA)
26.86
100 m breaststroke[13]

details
 Adam Peaty
Great Britain (GBR)
58.52  Cameron van der Burgh
South Africa (RSA)
58.59  Ross Murdoch
Great Britain (GBR)
59.09
200 m breaststroke[14]

details
 Marco Koch
Germany (GER)
2:07.76  Kevin Cordes
United States (USA)
2:08.05  Dániel Gyurta
Hungary (HUN)
2:08.10
50 m butterfly[15]

details
 Florent Manaudou
France (FRA)
22.97  Nicholas Santos
Brazil (BRA)
23.09  László Cseh
Hungary (HUN)
 Konrad Czerniak
Poland (POL)
23.15
100 m butterfly[16]

details
 Chad le Clos
South Africa (RSA)
50.56
AF
 László Cseh
Hungary (HUN)
50.87  Joseph Schooling
Singapore (SIN)
50.96
AS
200 m butterfly[17]

details
 László Cseh
Hungary (HUN)
1:53.48  Chad le Clos
South Africa (RSA)
1:53.68  Jan Świtkowski
Poland (POL)
1:54.10
200 m individual medley[18]

details
 Ryan Lochte
United States (USA)
1:55.81  Thiago Pereira
Brazil (BRA)
1:56.65  Wang Shun
China (CHN)
1:56.81
400 m individual medley[19]

details
 Daiya Seto
Japan (JPN)
4:08.50  Dávid Verrasztó
Hungary (HUN)
4:09.90  Chase Kalisz
United States (USA)
4:10.05
4×100 m freestyle relay[20]

details
 France
Mehdy Metella(48.37)
Florent Manaudou(47.93)
Fabien Gilot (47.08)
Jérémy Stravius(47.36)
3:10.74  Russia
Andrey Grechin (48.60)
Nikita Lobintsev (47.98)
Vladimir Morozov(46.95)
Alexandr Sukhorukov(47.66)
3:11.19  Italy
Luca Dotto (48.75)
Marco Orsi (47.75)
Michele Santucci (48.48)
Filippo Magnini (47.55)
3:12.53
4×200 m freestyle relay[21]

details
 Great Britain
Daniel Wallace(1:47.04)
Robert Renwick(1:45.98)
Calum Jarvis(1:46.57)
James Guy (1:44.74)
7:04.33  United States
Ryan Lochte (1:45.71)
Conor Dwyer (1:45.33)
Reed Malone (1:46.92)
Michael Weiss(1:46.79)
7:04.75  Australia
Cameron McEvoy(1:46.46)
David McKeon (1:47.05)
Daniel Smith (1:46.38)
Thomas Fraser-Holmes(1:45.45)
7:05.34
4×100 m medley relay[22]

details
 United States
Ryan Murphy (53.05)
Kevin Cordes (58.88)
Tom Shields (50.59)
Nathan Adrian(47.41)
3:29.93  Australia
Mitch Larkin (52.41)
Jake Packard (59.16)
Jayden Hadler (51.91)
Cameron McEvoy(46.60)
3:30.08  France
Camille Lacourt (52.81)
Giacomo Perez-Dortona(59.88)
Mehdy Metella (50.39)
Fabien Gilot (47.42)
3:30.50

Four years ago:

Cesar Cielo looked like a heavy favorite to win back to back 50 freestyles at the Olympics. Cielo absolutely dominated in Shanghai, winning by a margin of .38 seconds. Olympic champion Florent Manadou was a good but not great French sprinter who didn’t even make the team in the 50 in Shanghai behind veterans Alain Bernard and Frederick Bousquet. In fact, he was somewhat the goat of French swimming: on the country’s prelims medley relay, his 54.0 butterfly split was the second-slowest of the entire field and the primary contributor to France failing to final in that race.

Manadou improved his personal best in the 50 freestyle by an entire second in six months to become an Olympic champion.

Four years later:

Now Manadou is the overwhelming favorite in the 50 free, and Mehdy Metella’s impressive fly split from Kazan has made French fans forget (by choice or nature) that Manaudou was ever their primary butterflier. He won this past summer in Kazan in nearly as dominating fashion as Cielo in 2011. Is he safe? It’s hard to believe we will see someone have the kind of crazy improvement that Manadou had in 2012. But could someone like Caeleb Dressel, making his first big time international team, be the one to upset the French giant?

Four year ago:

Germany was poised to have it’s best Olympic male performance since the 1980s. Paul Biedermann was back in great form, winning medals in the 200 and 400 freestyle. Christian Vom Lehn was an ascendant talent in the 200 breaststroke. Even older athletes like Helge Meeuw and Henrik Feldwehr were showing they still had something left in the tank.

But it was not to be. Germany fell flat on it’s face at the 2012 Olympics. The only medal came in open water by Thomas Lurz. Biedermann cratered- failing to even make the 400 freestyle final. He and Feldwehr performed so poorly that Germany did not use either on their medley relay. Had they repeated their Shanghai splits they would have been in medal contention.

Four years later:

Australia seems to be the country on the comeback trail this time around. Despite a tumultuous Olympic cycle, they returned to their rightful #2 spot in Kazan after finishing a dreadful 7th in the London medal count.

Their biggest stars, however, are mostly untested at the Olympics. Only time will tell whether they can withstand the pressure of Rio. Mitch Larkin swam only the 200 in London and ran out of gas in the final. Cameron McEvoy was just eighteen years old at that time. If those two swimmers aren’t on their game, Australia’s will have no chance to repeat their 4×100 medley silver from Kazan.

Four years ago:

Kosuke Kitajima, the greatest male breaststroke of all time, looked like he had enough in him for one more Olympic run. Kitajima, the only back to back Olympic champion in men’s breaststroke up to that point, was going for an unprecedented third straight title.

Although he was defeated by Daniel Gyurta over 200m in Shanghai, the margin was tight. Kitajima managed to swim even faster in London, but got overwhelmed by the then rapidly improving Gyurta, the homecrowd hero Michael Jamieson, and his own countrymen Tateishi.

Four years later:

Laszlo Cseh has been a perpetual bridesmaid his entire Olympic career. Despite his wide event set, he’s had the misfortune of sharing a generation with Phelps and Lochte. However, he’s given himself a little hope that finally, at age 30, he could break through in Rio.

Cseh notched personal bests in the 100 butterfly, to go with a non-suited best in the 200. Still, he has the same problem he always has, in this case being that Phelps is still hanging around and le Clos will be there as well, to go along with a host of young swimmers that will push their way into the final.

Check back for Part Two of “Four Years Later” . Where we will perform the same analysis of the women. 

In This Story

7
Leave a Reply

5 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Swimmer A

Haha awesome! Thanks for putting this together, Chris.

Tom from Chicago

Based on that pattern, the US can expect to win about 8 medals on the men’s side. Swimming has become extremely fast everwhere.

swamswummer

2011 – 14
2012 – 16
2015 – 10

Not that there’s any pattern or enough data to create one but where do you get 8 from?

Tom from Chicago

You have to take out the 50 strokes and account for Phelps. The US seems to perform in the ballpark of their last World Championships.

BDL SWIM

If we apply the Shanghai-London trends to the Kazan-Rio cycle, 4 events would have repeat winners. In which events do you think the Kazan winner will also win in Rio? My guesses are:

– 50 Free (Manaudou)
– 100 Back (Larkin)
– 200 Back (Larkin)
– 200 Breast (Koch)

About Chris DeSantis

Chris DeSantis

Chris DeSantis is a swim coach, writer and swimming enthusiast. Chris does private consulting and coaching with teams and individuals. You can find him at www.facebook.com/cdswimcoach. Chris is a 2009 Graduate from the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the first professional athletic coach …

Read More »

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!