SwimSwam Pulse: 66% Believe U.S. Men’s Medley Relay Dominance Continues In Paris

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers if China’s recent performance in the men’s medley relay makes them the frontrunner for next year’s Olympics:

Question: Who wins the men’s medley relay in Paris?


  • USA – 66.0%
  • China – 26.3%
  • Great Britain – 3.2%
  • Italy – 3.0%
  • Other – 1.6%

The U.S. men have had several relay hiccups in recent years. Long gone are the Peak Phelps days where a relay sweep was a forgone conclusion at major international events—between 2005 and 2009, they won every single relay between the Olympics and World Championships, save the 2007 medley relay where they were disqualified in the prelims.

And although the American men are still very much in contention for gold every time out, wins are far from a lock…unless it’s the medley relay at the Olympics.

Dating back to the 1960 Games in Rome, when the event was first introduced, the Americans have gone undefeated in the men’s medley relay, with them only lending the gold medal over to the Australians in 1980 when the U.S. boycotted the Games.

The American dominance in the event has been punctuated in recent years, as they rolled to a new world record at the Tokyo Olympics in 3:26.78 before crushing the field this past summer at the World Championships in 3:27.20.

In 2022, the Italians caught fire and handed the Americans an upset loss, with Caeleb Dressel notably missing from the U.S. team, though both teams still went incredibly quick in the 3:27-range.

In Fukuoka, the Americans won gold by 1.80 seconds, with Ryan MurphyNic FinkDare Rose and Jack Alexy all delivering in the relay final after winning individual medals in their respective 100-meter events.

That performance seemingly made them the bonafide favorite for gold in Paris, with the streak seemingly safe as ever, and the potential of Dressel returning to form making them seem even more unbeatable.

However, China, the runners-up at Worlds in 3:29.00, shook things up a bit at the Asian Games in late September, producing the second-fastest time ever, 3:27.01, to put them in the conversation for gold in Paris.

Split Comparison

USA – Tokyo Olympics (WR) USA – 2023 Worlds China – 2023 Asian Games
Ryan Murphy – 52.31 Ryan Murphy – 52.04 Xu Jiayu – 52.05
Michael Andrew – 58.49 Nic Fink – 58.03 Qin Haiyang – 57.63
Caeleb Dressel – 49.03 Dare Rose – 50.13 Wang Changhao – 50.68
Zach Apple – 46.95 Jack Alexy – 47.00 Pan Zhanle – 46.65
3:26.78 3:27.20 3:27.01

The emergence of Qin Haiyang and Pan Zhanle as two of the fastest 100 breaststrokers and 100 freestylers, respectively, this year couples with the perennial 100 back contender Xu Jiayu being on form and up-and-comer Wang Changhao putting up a 50.6 relay leg that was nearly a second quicker than he was at the World Championships.

With that being said, when Italy upended the Americans in 2022, it was with Federico Burdisso punching above his weight on fly (50.63 split, went 51.45 individually). Could that be the case with Wang for China? Or will he prove to be a legitimate 100 fly threat moving forward?

The Italians misfired in the prelims and didn’t even final in Fukuoka, so we don’t quite know what they’re capable of this year when firing on all cylinders, but it’s not encouraging that neither of their 100 fly swimmers made the semis individually.

Our latest poll shows that two-thirds of readers are still picking the U.S. to reign supreme in Paris, while more than a quarter, 26.3 percent, are backing China to end the historic streak.

The Brits, who won the 2019 world title and challenged the U.S. in Tokyo, also picked up some votes given Adam Peaty‘s return to competition, while Italy was close behind them.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: What if NCAA swimming was formatted like football?

If NCAA swimming & diving was formatted like football, with weekly dual meets and the national championships being a head-to-head dual, would it be more exciting?

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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Alison England
4 months ago

Probably USA, but China will give them a scare!

4 months ago

Don’t count out the Australians now Ben Armbruster returning to form in 1000 fly we just need a boost in the breaststroke to give Kyle Chalmers a chance to mow down the field. Relay camps are a great part of the Australian system

Reply to  Max
4 months ago

Australia is not winning the medley relay. We just don’t have the four parts.

Backstroke the best we can do is a 53 low, breast is a 58 mid (and both of those are if we pull of great times), Temple could pull a 50 flat and Kyle could pull a 46.4. Even with every leg going a great time, that’s still only a 3:27 high. Basically we would need a 100 back or breast phenom to suddenly pull a 51 or 57, or some other teams would need to get DQ’d for us to win.

Fukuoka Gold
Reply to  Max
4 months ago

Australia is not touching men’s medley relay gold.

Best they can do is bronze.

Their lack of sprint breaststroker is too severe.

4 months ago

China is swimming really hot right now but I would need to see them put together something fast outside of China before I could ever get confident. The US is good at making it happen in that relay time in and time out.

Reply to  2Fat4Speed
4 months ago

did you notice them in the World Cup in Berlin

Fukuoka Gold
Reply to  2Fat4Speed
4 months ago

The US is good at making it happen in that relay time in and time out.

They only won bronze in men’s 4×100 free when on paper they should have beaten both Australia and Italy after GBR got DQ in prelims.

Reply to  Fukuoka Gold
4 months ago

The reason they lost the 4×100 is because they underperform especially on the leadoff with Ryan Held going 48 flat and usually Dressel is on the leadoff and if they went fast just like last year they would have won it .

Alison England
Reply to  Lisa
4 months ago

GBR will give them a run for their money in the 4 x 100 free.

Reply to  Alison England
4 months ago

Yes I know that and 4×100 also gonna be the one to watch next year cause there’s could be three to four or maybe five way battles if most of them is at their best .

Last edited 4 months ago by Lisa
Alison England
Reply to  Lisa
4 months ago

It will certainly be exciting!

Reply to  Lisa
4 months ago

comment image

Reply to  Troyy
4 months ago

Well we’ll see what happen and most people probably won’t have this doubt about the US relay when Dressel qualify for the Olympics team next year .

Reply to  Fukuoka Gold
4 months ago

I was talking about the Medley Relay. The relay that the article is about.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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