SwimSwam Pulse: 81% Would Rather Have Olympic Gold Over World Record

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 if they’d rather have an Olympic gold medal or a world record:


Question: Which Would You Rather Have?

  • Olympic gold medal – 80.9%
  • World record – 19.1%

A vast majority of SwimSwam voters said they’d rather have an Olympic gold medal than a world record.

Coronavirus quarantine really brought out the votes, as this poll brought in the most votes we’ve ever had in a SwimSwam poll. This one garnered even more votes than any single matchup in our ‘hardest event’ bracket, the most-voted poll in recent memory.

Olympic gold comes with a prestige that translates well across other sports – fans of team sports might not understand the implications of a world record, but Olympic gold speaks to sports fans at all levels. There’s something tangible about Olympic gold – while a world record can (and will) eventually be taken away, a gold medal is a piece of hardware you keep forever. Sometimes it even attaches itself permanently to your name. There are also cases where world record can be gamed – like when FINA started recognizing mixed relay records, and the first to host a sanctioned meet could stamp their names (however briefly) onto the world record books. It’s much harder to ‘game’ your way to a gold medal.

World record, of course, has the argument of history. It’s a more exclusive club. Every four years, we get a slew of new Olympic gold medalists. But world records fall only a few times a year. Olympic medals can sometimes be aided by a weak field, an injury or DQ to a top contender. World records rarely get watered down in that way. Still, less than 20% of voters picked the world record in our poll.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters for their opinions on the 2021 FINA World Championships:

What should be done with the 2021 World Championships amidst Olympic postponement?

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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Mr Piano
1 year ago

Gets the 200 free world record but adds 3 seconds at the Olympics so you don’t get the gold. Yeah Olympic gold is better

1 year ago

Im trying to come up with worst case scenarios…
In my opinion, it would suck to get the WR and have it beaten in the next heat.
however, getting gold at an olympic event would ‘suck’ if it was somehow the slowest olympic victory.
Which makes me think, what is the slowest olympic victory to date if compared to the world record? Is there such a stat?

Reply to  Flamethrower
1 year ago

Womens 200m Fly is way off the world record these days…at a guess.
It happens in Athletics all the time because of tactical racing- the mens 1500 was 20 seconds slower than the WR and slower than the Paralympics!

Mr Piano
Reply to  Flamethrower
1 year ago

Andriy Serdinov knows how it feels like to own a world record for 5 minutes. Goes 51.5 in the semi of the 100 fly Phelps goes 51.47 just after going 1:56.04 in the 200 IM.

That’s an interesting question, and in athletics it would probably be the 1500m track time at the 2016 Olympics. The winning time was slower than a time set in 1930.

In swimming it’s hard to say, but I think the women’s 200 fly?

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Mr Piano
1 year ago

The Rio men’s 1500 was a fascinating tactical race, especially the bizarre strategy from the favorite Kiprop. Somehow I don’t think Matthew Centrowitz would care if the winning time had been more than an hour. From the same Olympics I can think of the women’s high jump with a very poor winning mark. It was not only the lowest in nearly 40 years but days later two women jumped higher during the women’s heptathlon. Lasitskene from Russia almost certainly would have won the high jump comfortably but she was caught up in the Russian ban despite no connection to doping during her career.

BTW, I was very impressed with the 81% landslide, given the time-obsession of this site.

1 year ago

ngl I would take Zhang’s 800 free wr rather than a gold medal

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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