Is There Enough Time for the US to Catch Australia in Gold Medals? (Days 6-8 Breakdown)


Three more gold medals for Australia on Thursday at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships pushed them to nine total at the meet so far, which is five ahead of China and six ahead of the tie between the United States and France (aka Leon Marchand, who trains in the United States) for the most.

By the traditional gold-silver-bronze medal sort, which is a fairly narrow ranking because it’s mostly just a gold medal sort, but it is the one we all use, the United States has won every medals table since the 2001 World Championships. That year, three countries combined to win almost 50% of the medals awarded (60/121), with Australia taking the lion’s share of the gold medals, 13.

2001 Final Medals Standings

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Australia 13 3 3 19
2 United States 9 9 8 26
3 Germany 3 6 6 15

Current Top of the 2023 Medals Table

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Australia 9 4 0 13
2 China 4 0 5 9
3 United States 3 10 8 21
4 France 3 0 2 5

China, which currently ranks 2nd in the 2023 medals table, faltered a little on day 5 of the competition, with Wang Shun as a non-factor in the 200 IM and the women’s team a distant 3rd in the 800 free relay.

Marchand’s swimming is done, and so that leaves the United States as the most likely candidate, if any, to catch them for the top of the table.

With 18 medal events remaining, there is still room for the US to catch up, but let’s take a deeper dive on each of those 18 events and, with five days of information, the likelihood of each country winning each event.

Race-By-Race Analysis

Event The Field Australian Medal Chances US Medal Chances Likely Net?
Men’s 50 free Ben Proud and Cam McEvoy weren’t great in the 50, and there’s not enough data on Florent Manaudou. That at least opens this race up a bit. McEvoy was 18th in the 50 fly, missing his seed by .33 seconds. Ryan Held was flat on the 400 free relay leadoff, but Jack Alexy’s surprise silver gives him a chance here.
No gold for either, trending toward US though
Men’s 1500 free The Paltrinieri scratch clears out a big hurdle, as does Florian Wellbrock missing the final of the 800 after dominating open water. Ahmed Hafnaoui is usually less-good in the 1500 in long course, but he’s already surprised us this week. Sam Short has looked amazing at this meet, winning the 400, but the 1500 is not his best of the three events Bobby Finke has been great by his own standard, including breaking his American Record in the 800 free. Based on what we’ve seen so far this week, I think he has to be the favorite right now, maybe co-favorites with Daniel Wiffen
Probable US gold
Men’s 50 back Nobody in the field is seeded within six-tenths of Hunter Armstrong. The only possible spoiler is Italy’s Thomas Ceccon, who won the 50 fly Nothing that will impact the podium expectaiton Armstrong and Ress have looked very good. The US are heavy favorites for 1-2.
Near-Lock US gold
Men’s 200 back
Hubert Kos has looked good through the rounds of the 200 back, but nothing that should concern Murphy if he swims his race
The US has the top two seeds. Destin Lasco has been off, finishing 16th in the 200 IM, but Ryan Murphy won the 100 back earlier in the meet.
Near-Lock US gold
Men’s 200 breast With no Leon Marchand, the #2 seed falls. But China’s Qin Haiyang was dominant through the 50 and 100 meter races. This 200 is usually his pet – but has he sacrificed the endurance for more speed? Qin is the only thing between the World Record holder ZSC and this gold medal Matt Fallon is in position to medal – but if ZSC is on, the gold is his
Strong Australia gold
Men’s 100 fly Maxime Grousset of France is swimming well this week, and probably moves into the favorite position for gold with Canada’s Liendo faltering. Matt Temple has been off, so no likely medals for Australia here Dare Rose had a great semifinal in the 50 fly, but regressed in the final. If he’s semifinal Dare Rose, the upset is possible
Long-shot US gold
Men’s 800 free relay Great Britain’s 1-2 in the 200 free should lock this up Australia had no individual finalists in the 200 free Luke Hobson’s 1:44.8 in the 200 free semis was nice, but the depth isn’t there unless Carson Foster does something special
Neither – GB is the strong favorite
Men’s 400 medley relay
China has three great legs swimming well – Xu (back), Qin (breast), Pan (free) – but unless Wang shows something in the 100 fly, probably not quite enough for them to challenge the US
Ryan Murphy is on, Nic Fink is on, Dare Rose is on, and Jack Alexy is on. If the US is on, this is still their relay to lose. Strong US gold
Women’s 50 free Sjostrom raged on the opening leg of Sweden’s 400 free relay, splitting 52.2. That makes her the favorite in her two individual races. McKeon and Jack both swimming really well. Either has a puncher’s chance at a win – depending on what Sjostrom is doing. Abbey Weitzeil is having a good meet. She hasn’t been counted as a gold contender here, but I suppose it’s possible
Both with a shot, but possible Australia, likely Sjo tho.
Women’s 100 free Can Marrit Steenbergen play spoiler? Or are the Australian women playing coy? Weitzeil is swimming well, but probably not the 52-low to win
Strong Australia gold
Women’s 800 free N/A We can chatter about whether an absolutely-blazing Titmus might be able to challenge Ledecky in a race over 400 meters… But the GOAT is likely to get it done, even if that margin shrinks
Near-Lock US gold
Women’s 200 back This was always a two woman race Kaylee McKeown has had Regan’s number all week long. I don’t see that changing. Regan Smith has had her best international meet since 2019. But McKeown is on another plane right now
Strong Australia gold
Women’s 50 breast Meilutyte won the 100 by 1.2 seconds. She’s not losing this race No big revelations in Australian women’s biggest weakness Americans swimming well-enough to medal, but not to beat Meilutyte.
Neither – Meilutyte a lock
Women’s 200 breast Tatjana Schoenmaker taking silver in the 100 breast gives her huge confidence, and she took control in the 200 breast. With her and Tes Schouten swimming well, it’s going to be hard for either American to break through Abbey Harkin in the final is a nice bonus. But she’s not challenging for gold, even with momentum. Douglass has one title under her belt. We never seem to be able to count Lilly King out. Neither is a favorite, but both have a chance.
Unlikely for either, but US has a shot
Women’s 50 fly Sjostrom will be hard to beat here. Not much Doesn’t seem like GWalsh, even as the 2nd seed, or Torri Huske have it in them to beat Sjostrom.
Neither – Sjostrom wins again
Women’s 400 IM Summer McIntosh has gotten herself squared away after that tricky day 1 start in the 400 free. With a 6 second seed gap, nobody’s catching her. Jenna Forrester has swum well! But she’s not going 4:27. Katie Grimes was great in open water! But 8th in the 1500 makes it hard to see her closing that gap.
Neither. Summer of Summer resumes.
Women’s 400 medley relay It’s a two-horse race Australia hasn’t missed this week. We still don’t know what they’re going to do with this relay. Harkin’s 1:07.1 in the individual event is their big deficit. But we also don’t know what the US is going to do with their relay, and specifically the butterfly leg. The US needed to fire on all cylinders to overcome the deficit to a raging Australia
Both have a shot, but strong lean Australia
Mixed 400 free relay Canadians not swimming well enough to get involved here, nor are British women Australia entered the meet as the favorites, and will have the advantage on the US on every leg of this relay Just not enough top-end speed to overcome Australia
Near-Lock Australia

In Summation?

Barring a shock, I’d set the over-under at US gold medals remaining at five. That’s not enough to overcome the existing gap, let alone accounting for what more gold medals Australia is going to win.

Australia has about four golds that look like they’re in the bag for the remained of the meet, and a decent chance at two more.

In short, Australia is going to win the most gold medals at this meet – there doesn’t seem to be any way around that, barring a sudden outbreak of COVID.

All that’s really left is the size of the message and what it prompts from an American response. The best case scenario is probably Australia +8 gold medals. The worst case is Australia +5 gold medals. Either case should prompt the USA to take a long, hard look at what they’re doing, but if it’s the latter, the sirens will be blaring at full volume in Colorado Springs.

All-Sports Medals Table

It will also be very hard for Australia to catch China for the overall all-sports gold medal lead (currently 19-11), though the US could still catch China for the most total medals (currently 33-27). None of those three countries are involved in the water polo finals, though the Australian women are playing for bronze on Friday.

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  China 19 5 9 33
2  Australia 11 5 1 17
3  Japan* 4 1 5 10
4  Germany 4 0 3 7
5  United States 3 12 12 27
6  Spain 3 1 3 7
7  France 3 0 4 7
8  Italy 2 7 3 12
9  Great Britain 1 5 3 9
10  Canada 1 2 4 7
11  Austria 1 2 0 3
12  Romania 1 1 0 2
 Tunisia 1 1 0 2
14  Lithuania 1 0 0 1
15  Mexico 0 5 2 7
16  Hungary 0 2 0 2
 Netherlands 0 2 0 2
18  Ukraine 0 1 1 2
19  Colombia 0 1 0 1
 Poland 0 1 0 1
 Portugal 0 1 0 1
 South Africa 0 1 0 1
23  Brazil 0 0 1 1
 Kazakhstan 0 0 1 1
 New Zealand 0 0 1 1
 South Korea 0 0 1 1
Totals (26 entries) 55 56 54 165

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7 months ago

I didn’t think it was quite over when you published this article but it is now.

Australia converted 1/2 golds last night and USA converted 0/2. I think Murphy losing the 200 back was the nail in the coffin.

13 events left, USA will win the W800 for sure, strong chance in M50BK and WMedley, has a reasonable chance in M1500 Free, M100 Fly, MMedley, W200BK, and an outside chance in M50 Free, W50 Breast and Mixed Free.

AUS has a strong chance in M50 Free, W200 back, Mixed Free and an outside chance in M1500, M50 Back, M100 Fly, W50 Free and WMedley.

USA would have to convert at least 8, which is every single one of their reaonable… Read more »

Darryl Mcgarry
7 months ago

Australia already has 12 gold.

Reply to  Darryl Mcgarry
7 months ago

You’re including the other aquatic events. This tally is only about pool swimming.

7 months ago

Also want to do a quick report on “Team Mac”.

Before the meet started I predicted that a team consisting of all swimmers whose names contain a variation of the sound “Mac” would top the medal table. Mostly a joke because so many women with Mac in their name are dominating at the moment. We missed two expected golds in the 400 free and 100 fly but team Mac is currently good for second on the medal tally haha.

Maxine Parker
Maxime Grousset
Mykhailo Romanchuk

Medal count
Gold – 6
W200 free (MOC), W50 Back (McKeown), W100 Back (McKeown),… Read more »

Jalen T
7 months ago

Nope. After this, the entire world staff needs to be fired. Lucky that mainstream media doesn’t care about Worlds. Imagine if this was the Olympics????

7 months ago


Write off the 2023 World Aquatics Championships as a learning experience.

Joshua Liendo-Edwards-Smith
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
7 months ago

But you were soooooo cocky leading up to this

Fukuoka Gold
Reply to  Joshua Liendo-Edwards-Smith
7 months ago

Yes, I have the receipts

7 months ago

While not the favourite I wouldn’t call Dare Rose in the 100 fly a long shot.

Reply to  Troyy
7 months ago

Yeah podium is definitely possible.

7 months ago

Ben Proud and Cam McEvoy’s 50 fly will have no bearing on their 50 free.
plus Finke a probable gold? Doubt it.

Reply to  Joel
7 months ago

Yes, 50m (could be anyone) and Finke (possible).

Fukuoka Gold
Reply to  Joel
7 months ago

McEvoy just swam 21.35 in prelims if it means anything

7 months ago

“the sirens will be blaring at full volume in Colorado Springs”
I would like to begin the piling on against USA SWIMMING now. Their utter failure in seeing their selection criteria as deeply flawed, has, in part, led to this mess with TEAM USA. Of course, when you have Marchand or the Aussie women swimming against you, getting a gold is pretty rough. But the dereliction vis a vis all of the 50 meter stroke events is intolerable. Yes, the Olympic program isn’t the World Championships – we know that. Thankfully, there is a full year to do some course corrections, learn from the deficits in performance, and come out swinging [and swimming] in Paris 2024.

Gulliver’s Swimming Travels
7 months ago

Really? What would MA have added to this team in terms of medals?

Reply to  Gulliver’s Swimming Travels
7 months ago

Micheal Andrew failed to.qualify for the Championship Final in the M 100 BR and M 100 FL at the 2023 Phillips 66 National Championships. Who fault is that?

Hmm. 100 BR, 100 FL, Men’s 4 x 100 meter medley relay, Mixed 4 x 100 meter medley relay. For an athlete who complains about relays, the only gold medal Michael Andrew has ever won was swimming on one.

7 months ago

I think MA should have been picked as well. But the 50 fly winning time was faster than his PB, no? I don’t think he would have made any difference

7 months ago

If anything, the focus should be on the events contested at the Summer Olympics a year prior to the 2024 Summer Olympics.

USA Swimming doesn’t select a team, the athletes qualify for the events.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner 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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