Ranking Nations By The FINA Scoring System At The Tokyo Olympics

By the end of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the United States led the swimming medal count with 11 gold medals, followed by Australia (9 gold medals), Great Britain (4 gold medals), China (3 gold medals), the Russian Olympic Committee and Japan (2 gold medals each).

Usually, the medal table is sorted by the number of gold medals, then silver, then bronze. However, FINA has been using a scoring system in order to rank the national teams. It is a measure that scores the top 16 finishers per individual event and the top 8 finishers per relay event, and better recognizes the depth of a nation than does the medals table. It is very similar to the NCAA scoring system, and has been used at the World Short Course Championships.

What if this system had been used at the Olympics? How would it affect the stands? Instagram’s Swimming Stats page has published the ranking.

The team scorings are based on the following points:

  • Individual events, places 1-16: 18, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points.
  • Relay events, places 1-8: 36, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20 points.

We have considered all swimming events, including the marathon swimming.

The United States and Australia would still be in the top-2. But Great Britain would be surpassed by the Russian Olympic Committee, Italy and China. Why does this happen? Note that the British had 32 top-16 finishers, while the Russians had 41, and the Italians had 40. So, despite winning more medals, the British didn’t show as much depth as those two nations.

This also explains the huge difference in the Italian’s rank in comparison to the medal table. Italian swimmers didn’t win any gold medals in Tokyo, and that’s why, on the medal table, Italy is lower than Canada, Hungary, South Africa, Brazil, Germany and Tunisia, all these nations having won one gold medal apiece.

But Italy won 7 medals overall, only behind the U.S., Australia and Great Britain. And the high number of finals and semifinals justifies their 4th position in the scoring table.

That’s the same reason why Italy stands #2 in the scoring table in men’s events (the mixed relay scoring has been splitted, so half is counted for men and half is counted for women), and that’s also why the United States leads the scoring among women.

Remember that Australia won eight gold medals in women’s events and the United States won three gold medals. But Australia swimmers won 14 medals, and American swimmers won 18. Also, Australia had 25 top-16 finishers, while the United States had 33.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

It’d be kind of cool if swimming had a Ryder cup like event. Maybe a tri meet with the Americas v. Europe/Africa v. Asia/Oceania? I’d guess that’d be relatively even.

1 year ago

The problem with that is only 2 swimmers allowed per country per event. The entry rules prohibit you from measuring the true depth of a country’s swimming talent. I think it is unfair to limit the numbers. For example, the USA had about 8 women that would have had a good chance of finishing in the Top 16 in the 100 meter backstroke but the two person only rule prevented them from going to the games.

Corn Pop
1 year ago

Participation ribbons are in the mail.

Reply to  Corn Pop
1 year ago


1 year ago

Aus men: one gold medal, second on the table.

Aus women: 8 gold medals, second on the table.

This points system seems odd to me. Also, it’s kind of pointless because some nations (eg Australia) only send swimmers who are medal contenders despite them meeting the qualification time. If this point system was actually used then lots of top contender countries (except USA, who sent everyone they could) would have sent more swimmers and would have got more points.

Giving someone points for making the semi seems particularly pointless. In this system, a country placing 8th and 9th in an event is the same as another country getting gold.

Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

Yes, and in some ‘weak’ events (W200mFly) every swimmer qualified for the semis…..and other events only 20 percent of entries did (mens 100M)….

Should only really be ranking finalists … and I would give the winner a couple of more points. Winning is after all the point of a swimming race!

1 year ago

Interesting that the US easily beats AUS in the womens table, and AUS best UK in the mens table….all systems have their quirks!

1 year ago

How about men and women points separately?

Reply to  Ghost
1 year ago

Press the arrow on the right hand side of the image

1 year ago

There’s no perfect system for ranking nations. I would do away with giving points for 9th to 16th place because some nations, Australia is a prime example, only selected swimmers who were likely to make the final rather than just the semi-finals while a number of GBR swimmers sacrificed their individual events to help their relays. For what it’s worth, I would have a system where 5 points were awarded for gold, 3 for silver, 2 for bronze and 1 point for a finals appearance. Double for relays.

1 year ago

Agree totally

Thomas Selig
1 year ago

Interesting that ROC still rank third on this, despite having what most people would think of as a pretty poor Olympics (Rylov/Kolesnikov excepted).

Italy always seem to do well out of this ranking: they perhaps lack the star power that say GB have, hence why they don’t tend to win many golds on the World stage (particularly with Paltrinieri’s mono issues), but they have a really deep squad overall.

Might also be worth pointing out that GB would have done quite a bit better on this ranking without the scratches. Off the top of my head you have Guy (100/200 fly), Hopkin (50 free), Dean/Richards/Scott (second 100 free spot), Dawson (200 back), Renshaw (100 breast), Litchfield (100 back) who all… Read more »

Reply to  Thomas Selig
1 year ago

ROC had many 4th places. Minakov in 100 fly, Chupkov in 200 breast, Chikunova in both breaststroke events, and the men’s medley relay.

Reply to  whever
1 year ago

borodin getting covid didnt help either

Reply to  Thomas Selig
1 year ago

Also some fun facts:
ROC had only 5 swimming medals at the Games, 4 individual and 1 from relay.
All 4 individual medals were contributed by swimmers from Energy Standard.
2 out of the 4 relay medal winners who swam the final are from Energy Standard.

Rylov, Kolesnikov and Girev all trained with Energy Standard Group for quite a few years, although I doubt they were still with them after the pandemic.

Reply to  whever
1 year ago

I don’t think anyone trained with ES during pandemic!