Lichtenstein, Caymans Have Biggest Olympic Concentrations

Note: big thanks to Catherine Lee for compiling the numbers below, based on the most recent FINA lists available. For these calculations, we’ve excluded Universality invites to focus on swimmers invited with “A” times, “B” times, and as relay entries. If you see an error or out-of-date data, let us know so we can update our lists.

Also note that we’ve included Scot Robison on this list for the American men. Though it’s highly unlikely that he’ll swim, he is officially on the submitted roster.

In the modern day, where Olympic qualification has become so difficult thanks to an increase in the global parity of the sport and a cap at 900 swimmers, putting anybody on the Olympic Team is impressive. But some countries have truly amazed by coming up with significant Olympic rosters despite diminuitive populations.

Perhaps the most amazing of these is Iceland, who has qualified an incredible 7 Olympians despite being a population of only 320,000 people. That includes swimmers like Florida All-American Sarah Bateman, and backstroker Eyglo Gustafsdottir, who is viewed by many in Iceland as the future of their swimming program.  They combine with their Olympic teammates to represent 1 of every 45,000 Icelandic citizens.

Another impressive concentration hails from Slovenia. This is one of those countries that is off the European beaten-path with a population of just over 2 million, yet their swimmers still seem to pop up on major medal stands around the world. Thanks in part to the women’s 800 free relay qualifying, the Slovenians have qualified an amazing 12 Olympians, or one out of every 171,000 people. This contingent is led by Damir Dugonjic (the only male after national hero Peter Mankoc failed to qualify with a “B” time) and Sara Isakovic, both of whom are trained in the United States at Cal. The female ratio is even more drastic – with 11 female qualifiers for a female population of 1.05 million.

But the leaders are the two smallest countries on the list, and the only two with populations of under 100,000: Liechtenstein and the Fraser Cayman Islands.

The pair of qualifiers for the Caymans are actually brothers Brett and Shaunee Fraser, who are both former NCAA Champions from the University of Florida. That calculates the islands out to one Olympic swimmer for every 27,728 citizens. Imagine if every city bigger than Dana Point, California turned out a 48.5 100 freestyler. That would certainly help our depth issue in the 400 free relay. (Never heard of it? It’s in the OC, and its exact population figure based on the 2010 census was 27,728).

For some of the world’s biggest countries, the comparison can be skewed because of the limits on each roster. The United States, for example, has 48 swimmers on their Olympic Team with 300 million citizens, but if roster limits were removed they could probably quadruple the size of their team, at least. China, the world’s biggest country and also the world’s biggest Olympic swim team, will never be able to match Iceland with a population of 1.3 billion people.

Still, those two are doing better than countries like their counterparts Indonesia. The nation surrounded by water, with the world’s 4th-largest population at 237,600,000, had a single invited swimmer – Gede Sudartawa – who got in with a B time in the 100 backstroke.

The best results for countries with populations of greater than 10 million went to Hungary, with an incredible 31 qualifiers for 10.01 million citizens (1 out of every 323,000); and Australia with 45 Olympians for 22.3 million citizens (1 for every 495,000 people). Australia has long been the hallmark of the “small country, huge swimming success” game, as they still manage to send nearly a full squad to every Olympics.

Denmark (10 Olympians for 5.5 million people) fared pretty well too, as did the Canadians (34 Olympians for 34.1 million people).

The full list is below. Note: We didn’t spend too much time making sure we had the most recent population figures, but they should all be fairly up-to-date.

Country Qualifiers Population Number of Citizens per Qualifiers
CAY 2 55,456 1:27,728
LIE 1 36,476 1:36,476
ISL 7 320,060 1:45,723
SLO 12 2,057,630 1:171,469
LUX 2 511,800 1:255,900
BAR 1 274,200 1:274,200
NZL 16 4,433,620 1:277,101
HUN 31 10,014,324 1:323,043
BAH 1 353,658 1:353,658
AUS 45 22,299,000 1:495,533
DEN 10 5,584,758 1:558,476
EST 2 1,294,236 1:647,118
AUT 11 8,452,835 1:768,440
FIN 7 5,412,510 1:773,216
SWE 12 9,495,113 1:791,259
LTU 4 3,187,700 1:796,925
CYP 1 838,897 1:838,897
SRB 8 7,120,666 1:890,083
GRE 12 10,787,690 1:898,974
BEL 12 10,951,266 1:912,606
CAN 34 34,126,000 1:1,003,706
SIN 5 5,183,700 1:1,036,740
SVK 5 5,445,324 1:1,089,065
NED 15 16,736,075 1:1,115,738
ISR 7 7,879,500 1:1,125,643
IRL 4 4,588,252 1:1,147,063
BLR 8 9,458,500 1:1,182,313
TRI 1 1,317,714 1:1,317,714
CRO 3 4,290,612 1:1,430,204
GBR 43 62,232,000 1:1,447,256
SUI 5 7,952,600 1:1,590,520
NOR 3 5,022,900 1:1,674,300
POR 6 10,561,614 1:1,760,269
ITA 33 60,813,326 1:1,842,828
POL 19 38,501,000 1:2,026,368
CZE 5 10,504,203 1:2,100,841
HKG 3 7,103,700 1:2,367,900
BUL 3 7,364,570 1:2,454,857
TUN 4 10,673,800 1:2,668,450
JAM 1 2,705,827 1:2,705,827
FRA 23 65,350,000 1:2,841,304
RSA 17 50,586,757 1:2,975,692
GER 27 81,859,000 1:3,031,815
KOR 15 48,580,000 1:3,238,667
VEN 8 27,150,095 1:3,393,762
UKR 13 45,589,171 1:3,506,859
ESP 13 46,185,697 1:3,552,746
PUR 1 3,725,789 1:3,725,789
RUS 33 141,750,000 1:4,295,455
JPN 27 127,580,000 1:4,725,185
ROU 4 19,042,936 1:4,760,734
KAZ 3 16,734,000 1:5,578,000
CUB 2 11,247,925 1:5,623,963
TPE 4 23,252,392 1:5,813,098
PAR 1 6,337,127 1:6,337,127
USA 48 311,591,917 1:6,491,498
ARG 4 40,117,096 1:10,029,274
BRA 19 192,376,496 1:10,125,079
TUR 6 74,724,269 1:12,454,045
ZIM 1 13,014,000 1:13,014,000
MEX 8 112,336,538 1:14,042,067
UZB 2 29,123,400 1:14,561,700
COL 3 46,602,000 1:15,534,000
CHI 1 17,402,630 1:17,402,630
KEN 2 42,794,000 1:21,397,000
CHN 51 1,338,300,000 1:26,241,176
MAS 1 28,334,135 1:28,334,135
MAR 1 32,609,000 1:32,609,000
THA 2 65,479,453 1:32,739,727
VIE 1 87,840,000 1:87,840,000
INA 1 237,641,326 1:237,641,326

In This Story

2
Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
swim ma

Also amazing is how many of these swimmers are Florida Gators!

Wirotomo

Indonesia…. LOL yeah you right, we have 237 million people and we have 13,000 islands, surrounded by water. and yet we only have 1 swimmer qualified. Actually we have 4 athletes that pass the B-limit (OST), but the 3 failed to be invited: Glenn Sutanto (53.17 – 100m fly), Triadi Fauzi (2:00.19 – 200m fly), and Indra Gunawan (1:02.84 – 100m breast). In our 60 years Olympics history (we participate from 1952), we got 6 Olympics gold medals, but all of them from badminton. even we can get medals from archery and weightlifting, but not from swimming. so we can say swimming is not our “beloved” sport. 🙂 But i really hope, that I Gede Siman Sudartawa (you read that… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. 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, …

Read More »

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!