SwimSwam Pulse: 75% of Voters Banking On 7 Or Fewer WRs in Tokyo

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, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers how many world records will fall at the Tokyo Olympics this month:


Question: How many world records will fall at the Tokyo Olympics?

  • 7 or fewer – 74.5%
  • 8-9 – 15.8%
  • 10-11 – 6.3%
  • 12-15 – 2.4%
  • 16 or more – 1.0%

Nearly 75% of voters are expecting a limited number of world records at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Our poll focused specifically on world record swims, not events with a world record. So Adam Peaty breaking his own 100 breast world record in semifinals and the final would count as two world record swims. Still, voters were low on the probability of multiple world records, with 74.5% of voters predicting 7 or fewer world record swims.

We broke down how many world record events and world record swims have come in the past five Olympic Games. The 2008 super-suit bump is clear, but even outside of that year, 8+ world record swims have come at every Olympics since 2000:

2000 13 14
2004 8 8
2008 20 24
2012 8 9
2016 7 8

There are a few reigning world record-holders who seem like very good bets to swim a personal-best (Adam Peaty, Caeleb Dressel, Kaylee McKeown, Lilly King, Kristof Milak, Anton Chupkov). But perhaps SwimSwam voters hesitance is driven by a few reigning world record-holders with some uncertainty as to whether they’ll return to their career peaks (Katie Ledecky, Katinka Hosszu, Sarah Sjostrom, Ryan Murphy).

It’s also worth noting that compared to previous Olympics, this year’s Games will feature three extra events (the women’s 1500 free, men’s 800 free, and mixed 4×100 medley relay) and three more chances at world records.


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Should the University of Texas join the SEC?

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1 month ago

Only 7? I count 11+ :

1. Men’s 50 free
2. Men’s 100 free
3. Men’s 100 Breast
4. Men’s 200 Breast
5. Men’s 200 Fly
6. Women’s 100 Back
7. Women’s 200 Free
8. Women’s 4×100 free
9. Women’s 4×200 free
10. Men’s medley relay
11. Mixed medley relay

Would not be surprised if the men’s and women’s 100 Fly and Men’s 100 Back records also went down. Even the women’s 100 Breast and 400 free have a decent chance of going down.

Last edited 1 month ago by Yoo
Billy mays
Reply to  Yoo
1 month ago

mixed medley should not be an event

Reply to  Billy mays
1 month ago

But it is so deal with it

Reply to  Billy mays
1 month ago

too late Billy, get on board or stay grumpy!

Mr Piano
Reply to  Billy mays
1 month ago

I don’t think the breaststroke should be an event either but it is I guess.

Reply to  Mr Piano
1 month ago


Reply to  Mr Piano
1 month ago

What about the original breaststroke which did not outlaw a butterfly stroke?

Reply to  Yoo
1 month ago

Those all have a good chance of going down, but very unlikely that they all will

Reply to  Yoo
1 month ago

Hoping for 11 or 12, expecting about 6.

1 month ago

50/100 free
100 or 200 breast
100/200 fly
200 or 400 free
100 fly
100 or 200 back
4 x 100 FR
And mixed medley
That’s 10 and I think it’s pretty conservative

Reply to  BSD
1 month ago

Oops misread this ignore

Last edited 1 month ago by Aqqq
1 month ago

a friendly reminder that in 2012, 2 years after the supersuit ban, we were all worried that less than 7 WR’s would fall and here we are in 2021 swimming is still trending in the right direction for times!

Fina Fide
1 month ago

Titmus or bust. No more than 2 unless its something silly like a mixed relay.

1 month ago

I feel like this Olympics will be fast, on the men’s side alone there are 7 individual records in danger

50 free
100 free
100 fly
200 fly
100 breast
200 breast
100 back

And of those I think 5 will almost certainly go down (50 free and 100 back may not happen)

Reply to  IM FAN
1 month ago

Dressel’s got the 50 free and it’s gonna take a world record to win the 100 back with three guys in contention for gold

Reply to  TeamDressel
1 month ago

Insert “Hunter Armstrong and who else?” comment here.

1 month ago

In the 2019 World Champs, 9 individuals WR’s went down (all Olympic Events), but it felt like a really fast meet.
2017 World, 6 Olympics Event WR’s went (post Olympic year).

Rio felt a bit disappointing from a WR point of view since it was less than London.

By my count 16 WR’s look relatively vulnerable. I’d be happy with anything more than 10 going (more than ’19), the 13 number from Sydney looks like a good number to benchmark number to hit.

Then again, the 100free WR has looked vulnerable since 2012.

Reply to  john26
1 month ago

A break through will come in the 100 free though. The women’s 100 back was similar. People got close but no one could quite beat 58.12. Then it got slightly lowered and eventually decimated.

Eric the eel > Phelps
1 month ago

I count 6 :
Men 200, 800, 1500 free
Men 400 IM
Women 800 free
women 200 fly

Reply to  Eric the eel > Phelps
1 month ago

Oh you’re saying the ones that won’t go down then add the 2 Women’s IM’s and the womens 1500 free.

Gogo bibi
Reply to  Yoo
1 month ago


1 month ago

If there had been just 2 choices 7 or fewer, or 9 or more, far fewer people might have chosen the 7 or fewer option.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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