United States Wins Another FINA Championship Trophy


  • Tuesday, December 11th – Sunday, December 16th
  • Hangzhou, China
  • Tennis Centre, Hangzhou Olympic & International Expo Center
  • SCM (25m)
  • Prelims: 9:30 am local, 8:30 pm ET / Finals: 7:00 pm* local, 6:00* am ET
  • *The final night of finals will be one hour earlier, starting at 6:00 pm local and 5:00 am ET
  • Live Results (Omega)

If you felt like the United States had a banner performance at the 2018 Short Course World Championships, you’re right – sort of. With a roster that included Olympic Champions and World Record holders like Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Murphy, and Kathleen Baker; as well as some upside performances from swimmers like Olivia Smoliga (gold in the 50 and 100 back) and Annie Lazor (gold in the 200 breaststroke), the United States sent a roster that felt as good as any in recent memory.

  • Full FINA Trophy Final Standings, 2018

And historically, it does stack up as one of the Americans’ best performances ever by FINA Championship Trophy – a measure that scores the top 8 finishers per event, and better recognizes the depth of a nation than does the medals table (which the United States also dominated). But it’s not indisputably the Americans’ most dominant Short Course World Championship of even the last decade.

We were able to find FINA Trophy results for the last 8 editions of the World Short Course Championships, dating back to 2004. In that period, the US has won every FINA Trophy (demonstrating the overwhelming American depth at the international level, even when they’re not sending the country’s best roster).

The 1,099 points scored by the Americans in 2018 is the most they’ve scored in that period, beating out their 2016 total at the last edition of 1,027 points. But it isn’t their biggest margin in that period. That title goes to the 2012 World Championships in Istanbul, where the US scored 909 points, which was a 406-point margin over the next-best country: Australia (who were just 5th this year).

The American women carried the dominance in the FINA Trophy. In fact, the Russians, who sent effectively their full roster with a few exceptions (Yulia Efimova most notably), actually out-scored the American men by 20 points: 468-448. The American women, meanwhile, had a 318-point margin over the Russian women, while the Japanese women finished 2nd with 331 points.

American Margin of Victory, Last 8 Editions:

  • 2004 – 167 point margin
  • 2006 – 168 point margin
  • 2008 – 44 point margin
  • 2010 – 268 point margin
  • 2012 – 406 point margin
  • 2014 – 267 point margin
  • 2016 – 279 point margin
  • 2018 – 310 point margin

The reality is that this is probably the best recent American team we’ve seen recently at the Short Course World Championships. The reason that was covered up a little in the margin-of-victory is that the Russian team is also the best Russian team that we’ve seen at the Short Course World Championships in recent memory. Russia’s 789 points for 2nd is the most for a runner-up since Australia in 2004.

For a point of reference, the US scored 1,094 points at the 2017 World Championships, albeit with 4 fewer events, and more-than-doubled the next-closest nation, China (521 points).

Other Key Observations:

  • Japan’s women with 331 points outscored their men by 29 points. That’s the first time that has happened since 2008 (when Japan sent a very light roster and were only 25th in the Trophy standings).
  • As we’ve written about several times in the last few years, Brazil retained its massive imbalance between men and women, even while leaving a few of their top male swimmers (Vini Lanza) home. Notwithstanding the last day, where Brazil won bronze medals in both the 50 free and 50 fly, the women struggled to score – marking only 40 points. The men carried the team with 326 points as the country came away with 392 total points for 7th in the FINA Trophy.
  • Even as Erin Gallagher lifts the South African hopes for the future of its women’s swimming program, the country still only managed 14 points from its women as compared to 152 from its men (and none from mixed relays). That’s the second-biggest imbalance in the meet, after Brazil.
  • Any feelings that the mixed medley relays might give smaller nations a chance to compete with the mega-powers in mixed relays were dashed in this meet. With one exception, the finals of the mixed medley relays were earned entirely by the top 9 nations in the FINA Trophy (and that’s with China not entering or scoring any points). So, in effect, the points were concentrated entirely among the top countries, with one big exception: Finland scored 40 points in mixed medleys, even though they finished only 16th overall. That’s more points than Germany or Brazil scored in the same.
  • This is the 3rd-straight edition where the United States, Japan, and Russia have been the top 3 nations in the FINA Trophy, in some order.

Top 10:

  1. United States – 1,099
  2. Russia – 789
  3. Japan – 689
  4. China – 594
  5. Australia – 560
  6. Italy – 551
  7. Brazil – 392
  8. Netherlands – 323
  9. Germany – 314
  10. South Africa – 166

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Jim C

Instead of points, it would be better to talk about percentage of total points available.

mike in dallas

I totally commend the observations and caveats which this article points out! SC Worlds is NOT the Olympics, but one has to think that there are “new” people which have now been id’ed as up and comers for the Tokyo cycle – and should be encouraged! A few observations: 1. TEAM USA by any standard was awesome, esp. the women and ALL relays! The fact that the Russians basically brought the entire squad minus a few, shows how dominant TEAM USA can be; 2. The performance of teams like Japan and China are a clear sign that now is NOT the time for relaxing — they are tough and hungry! 3. The Australians — what can I say?; they didn’t… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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