Disclaimer: SwimSwam and its authors do not directly endorse betting on swimming. This is intended to strictly be an informative and entertainment article. Online and sports gambling carry financial risk. Players should be aware of this risk, and govern themselves accordingly.
TOKYO 2020 OLYMPIC GAMES
- Thursday, July 22 – Sunday, August 8, 2021
- Swimming: Saturday, July 24 – Sunday, August 1, 2021
- Tokyo, Japan
We are less than two weeks away from the Tokyo Olympics, and that means we get to discuss something that is rarely available to aquatic sports fans: gambling on swimming. While the swimming betting scene is microscopic compared to major sports like basketball, soccer, or football, it is much more robust than in 2016, as the betting options for swim fans in many countries–particularly the United States–have changed substantially since the 2016 Olympic Games.
During the last Olympic cycle, Nevada was the only state where sports gambling was legal, leaving residents in other states either better through illegal bookmakers or overseas websites. Today, sports betting is available in nearly half of the United States (as well as Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico), with measures passed in an additional roughly 10 states to enable sports gambling in the coming months or years. We should note, however, that sports betting is restricted to in-person wagers only in many of these states, including Delaware, New Mexico, and Arkansas.
For the sake of this article, we will use American odds (also known as “moneyline odds”) and their implied probabilities. American odds show favorites lead with a minus (-) sign, indicating the amount you need to bet to win $100. For example, Evgeny Rylov is a -250 favorite in the men’s 200 backstroke, meaning you would need to stake $250 to win $100. The implied probability is just a way to represent the implied likelihood that wager hits.
The implied probability equation for negative odds is as follows:
[absolute value of negative American odds] / ([absolute value of negative American odds] + 100) * 100
… yielding an implied probability for a Rylov win at 71.4%:
250 / (250+100) * 100 = 71.4
Odds for underdogs or tightly-contested events will be accompanied by a positive (+) sign, indicating the amount you would take home for every $100 you wager. Continuing our men’s 200 backstroke example, defending Olympic champion Ryan Murphy is listed at +275, implying you would win $275 on a bet of $100.
The implied probability equation for positive odds is as follows:
100 / ([absolute value of positive American odds] + 100) * 100
… yielding an implied probability for a Murphy win at 26.7%:
100 / (275+100) * 100 = 26.7
Three things to note:
- The larger the positive number, the bigger an underdog perceived by bettors and the bookmaker
- In both cases above and all numbers referenced below, if you win, you get your initial wager back, in addition to the amount won
- The summation of implied probabilities will always be more than 100% if you convert each athlete’s listed odds in a particular event. We won’t dive too far into it, other than to say that this is where the house gets its edge (or “vig”)
There are numerous online sports gambling websites that will take Olympic swimming wagers, but for today, we will just mention two that have a robust set of available betting options: DraftKings (based in the U.S.) and Pinnacle (based in Curaçao). In some cases, the odds vary substantially, likely due to the bookmaker balancing its lines based on how the public is wagering. Here are some findings from the available odds:
- Of all wagers across DraftKings and Pinnacle for both men and women, Adam Peaty in the 100 breaststroke is (unsurprisingly) perceived as the closest thing to a “lock”. He is listed as a whopping -2000 favorite (95.2% implied probability of winning)) on DraftKings and -2646 favorite (96.4%) on Pinnacle.
- World record holder Kristof Milak is the next largest favorite we could find, at -1600 (94.1% implied probability) on DraftKings and -800 (88.9%) on Pinnacle in the 200 butterfly
- Caeleb Dressel is favored in all three of his individual events, including hefty odds in the 50 free (-900 on DraftKings, -963 on Pinnacle) and 100 fly (-1148 on Pinnacle, unavailable on DraftKings). Those 50 free and 100 fly odds all have an implied probability of greater than 90%
- In the 50 freestyle, 2012 Olympic champion and 2016 silver medalist Florent Manaudou is listed at just +4000 on DraftKings, and is not even listed on Pinnacle as an athlete you can wager on
- Michael Andrew is the gold medal favorite in the 200 IM, at an even-money +100 on DraftKings and +105 on Pinnacle (roughly 50% implied probability). Daiya Seto has the closest odds at +275 and +193 on the two respective sites
- Seto is favored in the men’s 400 IM at -105 and -168 odds on DraftKings and Pinnacle
- Evgeny Rylov is listed as the favorite in both backstroke events, even with defending champion and world record holder Ryan Murphy in the field. Rylov is listed at +140 and -250 in the 100 and 200 backstrokes on DraftKings, while Murphy is listed at +275 for both events. Given his lifetime bests and how comfortable Murphy looked at Trials, these odds in particular made us do a double-take
- There are no relay bets available on DraftKings, but Pinnacle has posted odds:
- 400 freestyle relay: U.S. is favored at -341 (77.3% implied probability), with Russia next at +174 (36.5% implied probability)
- 800 freestyle relay: Australia (+111; 47.4% implied probability) and Great Britain (+228; 30.5% implied probability) have the shortest odds in the field
- 400 medley relay: U.S. is favored at -397, with Russia next at +448
- Ariane Titmus is a strong favorite over Katie Ledecky in both the women’s 200 and 400 freestyles over. In the 200, Titmus is listed as a -344 favorite (77.5%[!!!!] implied probability), with Ledecky coming in at +380 (20.8% implied probability). In the 400, Pinnacle lists Titmus as a -293 favorite, while Ledecky is a +187 underdog
- Ledecky is favored in the women’s 800 (-365) and 1500 freestyles (-424)
- Kaylee McKeown is favored in both backstroke events. In what will likely be a tight battle between world record holders with Regan Smith in the 100, McKeown is listed at -145 and -111 on DraftKings and Pinnacle, respectively. Smith is listed at +150 on DraftKings and +211 on Pinnacle
- Fellow Aussie Emma McKeon is the favorite in the 100 freestyle at -110 (DraftKings) and -113 (Pinnacle) Countrymate Cate Campbell has the second shortest odds at +250 (DraftKings) and +295 (Pinnacle). McKeon and Campbell are also gold/silver favorites in the 50 freestyle
- Lilly King is an overwhelming favorite in the 100 breaststroke at -347 on Pinnacle. DraftKings does not list odds for the event
- Similar to the men, there are no relay bets available on DraftKings, but Pinnacle has posted odds:
- 400 freestyle relay: Australia is unsurprisingly a heavy favorite at -1350 (93.1% implied probability). Team USA is next at +486 (17.1% implied probability)
- 800 freestyle relay: Australia (-500) is again an overwhelming favorite, with the U.S. at +300
- 400 medley relay: U.S. is favored at -250, with Australia next at +200