US Men Lead Top-3 Olympic Seeds, Women Narrowly Edge Aussies

Former Canadian Olympian Joel Greenshields, currently working with the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming, tweeted out a few charts looking at the top-3 seeds in each Olympic event by country, leading us to look a little deeper into which countries are seeded to do the most damage on the medal table in Rio.

Remember, seed times are from the qualifying period of March 1st, 2015 – May 31st, 2016, so the seeds don’t necessarily match up with this years world rankings.

As you can see on the men’s side, the US is well ahead of the pack. With 13 men seeded in the top-3 in 13 Olympic events, the 200 and 400 free are the only two events where they don’t have someone seeded to medal. They aren’t far off in those events either, with Townley Haas and Conor Dwyer less than three tenths behind 3rd in the 200 free, and Connor Jaeger only four one-hundredths outside of 3rd in the 400 free. The strongest events for the Americans based on the seeds are the 100 back and the 200 IM, with two men seeded in the top-3 in each. David Plummer and Ryan Murphy trail only Australia’s Mitch Larkin in the 100 back, while Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte are seeded 1-3 in the 200 IM with Japan’s Kosuke Hagino stuck in the middle.

The Australians sit 2nd with 6 swims seeded in the top-3, done by just three swimmers. Larkin leads the way in both backstroke events, Cameron McEvoy sits 3rd and 1st in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, and Mack Horton is 1st and 2nd in the 400 and 1500 freestyles. Japan is 3rd with four: Hagino is seeded 2nd in both IMs, Daiya Seto is 1st in the 400 IM and Yasuhiro Koseki is 3rd in the 200 breast.

After those three China, Great Britain and South Africa are tied with three apiece.

As evidenced by the chart, the women’s is much closer between USA and Australia. The US has nine entries seeded in the top-3, while Australia isn’t far behind with eight. The US is represented in eight different events, and at least one of each stroke. The women’s 800 free is their only event with two in the top-3, as Katie Ledecky and Leah Smith are seeded 1-2 by a wide margin. The Aussies are close behind with eight, but are only represented in five events. They have two women seeded in the top-3 in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 back thanks to Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell in the freestyles and Emily Seebohm and Madison Wilson in the 100 back.

Behind them there are four teams tied with three top-3 entries each: Great Britain, Hungary, Japan and the Netherlands. Hungary is the only one of those with a top seed, as Katinka Hosszu leads the way in both the 200 and 400 IM.

The women have five different countries with at least one number one seed, while the men have seven. Australia has four number one seeds to the US’s three on the men’s side, while on the women’s side Australia has five tops seeds to the US’s three.

There are seven swimmers tied with two number one entries, five on the women’s side and two on the men’s. The women have Ledecky (400, 800 fr), C.Campbell (50, 100 fr), Seebohm (100, 200 bk), Sjostrom (200 fr, 100 fly) and Hosszu (200, 400 IM) with the top seed, while the men have only Larkin (100, 200 bk) and Phelps (100 fly, 200 IM).

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Steve Nolan

Remember, seed times are from the qualifying period of March 1st, 2015 – May 31st, 2016

So should US Trials times not be in the seeds? Looks like they are.


Amazing stats! Its really surprising to see that on the womens side only 3 countries have more than 3 top 3 entries and on the mens side only 2 countries have more than 3 top 3 entries. China has only 4 top 3 entries! Brazil, Canada (and Spain) dont have a single top 3 entry! Total top 3 entries by country: USA 22 Australia 14 Japan 7 GB 6 Hungary 5 China 4 Germany, Netherlands, South Africa all with 3 Italy, Russia, Sweden all with 2 Denmark, France, Turkey, Lithuania, New Zealand all with 1 I think out of those countries on the list Hungary, Sweden and China are most likely to “overperform”, winning more medals than their number of… Read more »


I go with .5 per 50m & you are in the ballpark.


& .25 per 50m & you are closing in on 3rd base.

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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