Medals, Medals, Everywhere, But What Does It All Mean?

  29 Braden Keith | August 06th, 2012 | Featured, London 2012 Olympics, News

Let’s have some fun with the medals tables from the week’s Olympic swimming competition. First, the final table:

RankNationGoldSilverBronzeTotal
1 United States168630
2 China52310
3 France4217
4 Netherlands2114
5 South Africa2103
6 Australia16310
7 Hungary1012
8 Lithuania1001
9 Japan03811
10 Russia0224
11 Belarus0202
Spain0202
South Korea0202
14 Great Britain0123
15 Brazil0112
Canada0112
17 Tunisia0011
Total32343096

Now, some fun with numbers:

  • Germany was shut out of the medal stands in swimming for the first time since since the 1948 Summer Olympics – where they were not even allowed to compete in the first games after WWII. If only games are which they participated are included, one would have to look back to 1932 to find the last time that happened. With a new National Team staff on board, they’ll hope for a big turnaround by 2016 – the young talent is certainly there.
  • The statistics say that, overall, the host nation of an Olympics gets a 50% boost in their medal totals. Apparently nobody told swimming: Great Britain earned 6 in Beijing, but only 3 in London. China, on the other hand, went from 6 at their home Olympics to 10 here in London.
  • China’ Sun Yang won that country’s first-ever gold medal on the men’s side of the pool; in fact, he did it twice: once in the 400 and once in the 1500.
  • China altogether took 5 gold medals, which is more than they have in history: even the 1992 games, where their women were so strong (but still not as good as the East Germans). China only had 7 gold medals total coming into these Olympics.
  • Spain’s Mireia Belmonte-Garciawon two silver medals at these Olympics; the Spanish women only had a single bronze medal in history coming into these Games. In fact, the Spanish men and women combined only had 4 medals (1 gold, 3 bronze) total coming into London.
  • Two countries won their first-ever Olympic swimming medals at these games: Lithuania with a 100 breaststroke gold from 15-year old sensation Ruta Meilutyte, and Belarus with a pair of silvers from Aleksandra Herasimenia in the women’s sprints. Both countries had swimmers earn medals under the Soviet flag in 1980, but neither has earned one since re-emerging as independent nations in the early 90’s. The number of different countries who have earned Olympic swimming medals is now up to 53.
  • For all of the fear of the decline of swimming in the United States, the 16 gold medals won in London is the most since the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles (where we won 21). That was even without dominating performances by either Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte, like we saw in Beijing where Phelps alone had 8 of the Americans’ 12 gold medals.
  • Denmark went without a medal at these Olympics. That program has performed spectacularly in the last two years, and many expected them to explode at these Olympics, especially after getting three medals at the World Championships in 2011.
  • Australia’s 10 medals, and 1 gold, are both their lowest totals since the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Sinc the 1956 expansion of the swimming schedule to all four strokes, there’s only been one other time where the Australians didn’t win an individual gold: 1976, where the American men and East German women were absolutely dominant.
  • The Dutch women, with 4 medals in women’s sprint freestyle races, had their most successful Olympics since the retirements of legends Pieter  van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn. In this millenium, they’ve won 5 of the 8 gold medals in the women’s sprint frees.
  • The French are the big success of these Olympics; though they ran out of steam at the end of the meet (the men, for example, didn’t even final in the medley relay) they took 7 medals altogether. That’s their highest-ever medal total, after sitting at 6 for each of the last two Olympics. Their 4 golds doubled their all-time total coming into the meet.
  • Japan had 11 total medals without a single gold. Their 8 bronze moved them into 4th all-time for the most bronze medals in history, behind the US, Australia, and Great Britain. Believe it or not, this is not the most medal a team has ever earned without taking a title – in Atlanta in 1996, Germany took 12 medals (5 silver, 7 bronze) without winning an event.

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29 Comments on "Medals, Medals, Everywhere, But What Does It All Mean?"


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nostradamus
3 years 9 months ago

i’m not so sure this new german staff will be staying for very long. they had good pieces to medal, Biedermann, Steffen, Deibler bros, etc… This squad just drastically underperformed, and some of the blame has to be put on the coaching staff.

Andy Dixon
3 years 9 months ago

Lol the best part about your comment is that your name is Nostradamus and you’re basically forecasting the future with your prediction. Though I also think its too early to jump to a conclusion like that.

DanJohnRob
3 years 9 months ago

How does the 30 total medals stack up against other US teams? I know it’s less than Beijing. I suspect the reason our totals are falling is the globalization of our sport; more strong teams logically means less room at the top for US swimmers I guess.

USSwimFan
3 years 9 months ago

The number of individual gold medalists is what is most impressive when comparing this Olympic cycle compared to last two-

eg: In 2004/2008, Team USA only had 2 female and 3 male individual gold medalists. (Coughlin and Beard in ’04; Coughlin and Soni in ’08 and Phelps, Piersol, Hall in ’04; Phelps, Piersol and Lochte in ’08)

After these Olympics, we have 5 male and 5 female individual gold medalists.
Men = Phelps, Lochte, Grevers, Adrian, Clary
Women = Franklin, Schmitt, Vollmer, Soni, Ledecky

I would say that Team UAS surpassed the last 2 Olympics and our future is extremely bright due to the number of individual gold medalists we have (minus Phelps of course).

DanJohnRob
3 years 9 months ago

Haley Anderson just won silver in the open water event to tie the Beijing swimming total medal count from 2008! So, another individual medalist from team USA! Go Alex, make it 32!

Jean Michel
3 years 9 months ago

I would say Usa did a great job without having Phelps and Lochte winning many golds ….that means many other swimmers improved a lot and were ready on J-day . Congrats for the French team also .

Kirk
3 years 9 months ago

I think a lot of people were concerned the US Trials were too close to the Games. However, their performance in the pool last week put that to rest. It seems like the majority of the US swimmers swam faster in London than in Omaha.

morrow3
3 years 9 months ago

My understanding is that US trials need to be earlier due to administrative IOC reasons, rather than how we perform. (?)

My impression of the French Team was that they underperformed. Regardless of their medal count being their best, they left a lot in the pool. Japan finally had a good Olympics overall. They came up short in some races. Australia, Italy and Germany seemed to come up short on their expectations going in. The Chinese grabbed distance events and it will be interesting to see their depth rise in strokes and relays.

Like any Olympics there were veterans who remained on top, and who were dethroned. There was youth and promise for Rio. But I missed Dale Oen. And now Fran Crippen.

Kirk
3 years 9 months ago

There may be some administrative reason to make them earlier, I’m just responding to those who thought having Trials so close to the Olympics would negatively affect the swimmers’ performances.

Japan looked great, by the way. They’re not at the top yet, but they’re getting very close.

OW
3 years 9 months ago

Germans could still medal w/ Lurz in the 10K.

Ben
3 years 9 months ago

Although the USA ended up doing pretty solid this time around, I am still somewhat worried about Rio. OTs showed some promising youth, and although Phelps and Lochte didn’t have the strongest meet, they had a role in a large portion of the medals. Will Soni still be around? Ricky B already announced his retirement, right? Dana Vollmer? Jessica Hardy? Tyler Clary? Even Nathan and Cullen might fade a bit. It’s too early to say one way or another, but 2013 Worlds will be interesting.

Freebee
3 years 9 months ago

after all her medals, it looks like Missy is really considering going pro–any thoughts? (while I think it it totally unwise, Lia Neal maybe too)

gosharks
3 years 9 months ago

Well I heard her this morning on The Today Show say that college swimming was still the plan.

FREEBEE
3 years 9 months ago

Yes, but in the same interview she admitted that “they” were going to meet about it. Her mother also said that they consider going to college at say USC and swimming with Salo a good option even if Missy will not complete for USC. I think she’ll swim NCAA but these rumblings make it appear as going pro maybe more of an option than the Missy camp has communicated in the past

Kirk
3 years 9 months ago

If Missy decides to keep her NCAA eligibility I think that’s great, but after her London performance she’ll be losing out on some serious $ if she does so. It can’t be an easy decision. Personally I think I’d take the money and run!

WHOKNOWS
3 years 9 months ago

Missy will find a rich man and be taken care of the rest of her life!

Kirk
3 years 9 months ago

Missy appears extremely capable of taking care of herself.

bigfan2
3 years 9 months ago

I think she should go to college and compete.. You never know what’s going to happen… I think the lack of that hurt someone like.. Katie Hoff.

aswimfan
3 years 9 months ago

Katie Hoff did not win golds and broke WR in her two olympics

WHOKNOWS
3 years 9 months ago

USA Swimming will do just fine in 2016. Our age group records keep on getting broken, many fine coaches are making their marks (e.g. Ledecky’s coach), and there is much passion and love for the sport in the USA! The USA is still the best place to train – look at the number of foreign athletes who choose to train here!

bigfan2
3 years 9 months ago

I just wish we had our trials earlier.. I still think doing it a month out hurts these guys

FREEBEE
3 years 9 months ago

I have the same feelings sometimes. I think we’re both wrong. The US dominates swimming. This is a fact. Why should we do what the people we beat are doing?

Kirk
3 years 9 months ago

I don’t think the statistics bear this out. Most of the U.S. team swam better in London than in Omaha.

FREEBEE
3 years 9 months ago

precisely–we shouldn’t move anything

Scuba Steve
3 years 9 months ago

I don’t think Australia won individual gold in Moscow either – just a relay.

Teamwiess
3 years 9 months ago

At the very least Michelle Ford won the 800 free in Moscow.

Scuba Steve
3 years 9 months ago

Thanks, I remembered that within minutes of posting, but couldn’t work out how to edit or delete my absent-mindedness

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The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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