How Did We Do? Reviewing SwimSwam’s Worlds Predictions


Now that the 2022 FINA World Championships are over, it’s time to take a look back at our predictions to see how they compare to how the meet actually shook out.

Click here for all of SwimSwam’s Official Previews and Projected Medal Table

Predicting the Medalists

One of the big factors that lowered our batting average is injuries. We started writing our previews three weeks out from the meet, and a lot happened in that time and at the meet itself. We predicted 11 medals for swimmers in events that, for one reason or another, they didn’t end up racing.

Caeleb Dressel is the biggest example—we had him set for four individual golds. Siobhan Haughey withdrew because of her ankle injury, Shayna Jack broke her hand in the warmup pool, and Arno Kamminga didn’t swim the 200 breast due to illness. Kaylee McKeown scratched the 100 back, where she’s the world record holder. Duncan Scott and Ahmed Hafnaoui never suited up in Budapest.

Out of 126 medals podium spots (not counting ties, which we did not account for in our predictions), we put 37 medalists in the correct spot. We had another 44 medalists correct, but gave them the wrong color medal. Added up, that means that we got 81 medalists correct, or 64.2%.

Even with Dressel pulling out of the meet early, we still did the best at predicting the gold medalists. Having Katie Ledecky all but locked in for three wins helps pad that stat, but we still correctly predicted 19 out of 42 winners for 45.2%.

We got 12 silver medalists right, or 28.5 % of those medals. We did worst with the bronze medals and were right on just eight of those, or a lowly 19%. These numbers aren’t entirely surprising given that in many events, like Ledecky’s, the gold medalist might be straightforward, and then things get increasingly bunched up as we move down the podium.

What We Got Right

Despite the injuries and illness, there were four events where we had a 100% correct podium. We correctly predicted the podium in the women’s 1500 free, 4×100 free relay, and 4×100 medley relay. On the men’s side, we got the 200 back.

SwimSwam’s Fully Correct Podiums: 

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Women’s 1500 Free Katie Ledecky, USA Katie Grimes, USA Lani Pallister, AUS
Men’s 200 Back Ryan Murphy, USA Luke Greenbank, GBR Shaine Casas, USA
Women’s 4×100 Free Relay Australia Canada United States
Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay United States Australia Canada

We were also right about both of Mollie O’Callaghan‘s individuals. The rising teen star had a strong follow-up to her international breakout at the Tokyo Olympics, winning gold in the 100 free and silver in the 200 free. She also played a role on four of Australia’s medal-winning relays, including a world record in the mixed 4×100 free relay.

In addition to the four podiums we got right, there were five podiums where we were correct about the gold and silver medalists.

SwimSwam’s Correct Gold-Silver Predictions

Event Gold Silver
Women’s 400 Free Katie Ledecky, USA Summer McIntosh, CAN
Women’s 200 Back Kaylee McKeown, AUS Phoebe Bacon, USA
Women’s 50 Fly Sarah Sjostrom, SWE Melanie Henique (FRA)
Men’s 50 Fly Caeleb Dressel, USA Nicholas Santos, BRA
Women’s 200 IM Alex Walsh, USA Kaylee McKeown, AUS

While we awarded Sarah Sjostrom a bronze in the 100 free when she actually earned silver, we also correctly predicted that she’d win the 50 free and 50 fly. This was far from the hottest of takes, but shows that she’s progressing nicely after her elbow injury last year.

Biggest Misses

  • Without a doubt, our biggest miss was underestimating Leon Marchand. We had him down for only one medal, bronze in the 400 IM. In the 200 IM, we had him fourth, and out of the final entirely in the 200 fly. That couldn’t have been further from what happened, as he swept both IMs, earned silver in the 200 fly, and was named the best male swimmer of the meet.
  • We were 0-3 for medalists in the men’s 50 free. Our preview had Dressel, Bruno Fratus, and Josh Liendo on the podium, in that order. Dressel pulled out of the meet before the event, Fratus lost the swim-off with Grousset, failing to advance to the final, and Liendo finished fifth.
  • On the flip side, we overestimated both Lukas Märtens and Yui Ohashi. Märtens won silver in the 400 free (we predicted he’d win) but didn’t medal in the 1500 free and missed the final entirely in the 800 free. Ohashi swept the IMs in Tokyo, but didn’t medal in either event in Budapest, and didn’t qualify for the final in the 200.

Predicting the Medal Table

Actual vs. Predicted Medal Table

Actual Total Medals Nation SwimSwam Predicted Total Difference
45 United States 44 +1
17 Australia 17
11 Canada 9 +2
9 Italy 9
8 France 3 +5
5 Great Britain 8 -3
5 China 7 -2
4 Sweden 3 +1
4 Germany 5 -1
4 Japan 7 -3
2 Hungary 4 -2
2 Romania 1 +1
2 Lithuania 0 +2
2 Brazil 2
2 Netherlands 2
2 Poland 1 +1
1 South Korea 0 +1
1 South Africa 0 +1
1 Ukraine 0 +1
0 Hong Kong 2 -2
0 Tunisia 1 -1
0 Switzerland 1 -1

What We Got Right

While we didn’t get the medal count right, we were right about the U.S team’s dominance at the meet. 44 medals seemed a little high heading into the meet, but the U.S actually surpassed that, winning 45 medals and setting the most records for a nation in a single world championship.

We were right about the medal counts for both Brazil and the Netherlands. However, while we were correct about Santos and Kamminga medaling in the 50 fly and 100 breast, respectively, the second medalists were a surprise. For Brazil, Guilherme Costa surprised with a bronze medal in the 400 free. The Netherlands out-touched Great Britain for bronze in the mixed medley relay.

Despite the -3 difference, we actually weren’t too far off on our predictions for how Great Britain would far at this meet. Two of those predicted medals belong to Duncan Scott, so the difference is only -1.

Biggest Misses

  • We expected too little not only of Marchand, but the entire French team. They were our widest margin of difference, outscoring our predicted medals by 5. Marchand accounts for two of those medals, but Maxime Grousset also stepped up. We had him medaling in the 100 free, but he snuck into the final via swim off and ended up winning bronze there too. On the women’s side, Analia Pigree and Marie Wattel added medals, and so did Melanie Heniquewho we correctly predicted for silver in the 50 fly.
  • Ruta Meilutytes resurgence was a surprise to us. We didn’t have Lithuania down for any medals, but in her return to international competition, Meilutyte won gold in the 50 breast and bronze in the 100 breast.
  • Canada also outperformed our expectations, led by Josh Liendo taking bronze in the 100 free and 100 fly. He also played a role on the mixed 4×100 free relay, where Canada won a silver medal we didn’t see coming. This performance by Liendo made him the most decorated Canadian man at a single world championships.

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Jane McCarren
5 months ago

Pretty impressive predictions given the circs.

5 months ago

Marchand has been on fire since the NCAA.

5 months ago

What was your prediction on 4×200 Free womens relay?

Andy Dwyer
5 months ago

The difference total between the actual vs. predicted medal table sums up to +7. I don’t get it. Did you do something wrong or am I just not understanding it?

Reply to  Andy Dwyer
5 months ago

I think ties might affect that, but I also think this table forgot to take into account the mixed relays, because this post shows 44 as the US projected medal count:

Reply to  green
5 months ago

Yes it says 44 in the table but 42 in the text.

5 months ago

SwimSwam: No Erica Sullivan to win silver behind Katie? The best we can do is *squints at notes* her club teammate.

Snowpipers of Alaska
Reply to  DCSwim
5 months ago

Pretty sure SwimSwam’s projections and the actual race outcome had everything to do with Katie Grimes’s own personal merits and not her club team designation.

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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