Youth Rules: Demographics of 2018 U.S. Nationals

by Andrew Mering 7

July 23rd, 2018 National, News

Until the action at U.S. nationals starts up this Wednesday all we have to scratch the swim nerd itch is the psych sheet. My SwimSwam colleagues have written extensively about who we expect to do well in each race, but there’s more info on the psych sheet than times. There are also ages, so, let’s take a deeper look at that data.

There are 434 men entered in at least on event.  The youngest are 15 year olds Dare Rose of Scarlet Aquatics and Tim Connery of SwimMAC Carolina. The oldest is 37 year old Anthony Ervin of Team Elite.

Men’s entries have an average age of 19.9. That average counts swimmers with multiple entries multiple times. If we average the ages of swimmers with at least one entry at the meet, the men have an average age of 20.0 years.

Swimmers seeded outside the top 20 almost never qualify for the international meets, so the ages of all swimmers don’t give a look at the main contenders. (That claim is based on trials data. At this meet, unlike trials, there are some fast swimmers seeded low because of yards entry times that could upset this norm. Though for the most part, don’t expect many podium finishers from outside the top seeds). If we want to look at contenders we need to narrow our focus to top seeds. The average age of top 20 seeded men is 21.3. The average age of top 3 seeded men is 23.4.

439 women are entered. The youngest is 13 year old Rye Ulett of Dynamo Swim Club. The oldest are 30-year olds Liz Roberts of Savannah and Madison Kennedy of SwimMAC Carolina.

Women’s entries have a average age of 18.9 and women with at least one entry have an average age of 19.2.  Top 20 women’s seeds have an average age of 20.4. Top 3 women’s seeds have an average age of 22.4.

Age Men Number of Top 20 Seeds Women Number of Top 20 Seeds
13 0 0 1 0
14 0 0 7 3
15 2 0 19 10
16 16 8 38 22
17 30 5 36 22
18 47 38 57 34
19 82 46 77 32
20 85 48 100 55
21 95 65 57 60
22 32 39 17 29
23 13 30 13 35
24 13 24 3 8
25 4 7 1 0
26 3 9 5 14
27 2 4 3 8
28 3 4 2 5
29 3 6 1 2
30 1 0 2 1
31 0 0 0 0
32 0 0 0 0
33 2 6 0 0
34 0 0 0 0
35 0 0 0 0
36 0 0 0 0
37 1 1 0 0
Total 434 439

For both men and women the average age of top 20 seeds is at least a full year older than the field as a whole. That doesn’t mean that top swimmers at this meet are atypically old. In fact, for a nationals meet, this meet is pretty young. The average age of top 20 seeded men at 2016 Olympic trials was 22.6, 1.3 years older than at this meet. The women’s average top 20 age at 2016 trials was 21.3, .9 years older than at this meet. The average age of all men at 2016 trials was 20.4 and women was 19.2, both slightly higher than at this meet.

This trend repeated at the previous 2 mid Olympic cycle U.S. Nationals vs the previous Olympic Trials.

Average Age Top 20 Seeds

Men Standard Deviation Women Standard Deviation
Nationals 2018 21.3 3.2 20.4 3.0
Trials 2016 22.6 3.9 21.3 3.4
Nationals 2014 21.7 3.5 20.1 2.9
Trials 2012 23.0 3.6 21.1 3.8
Nationals 2010 22.0 2.9 20.0 3.0
Trials 2008 22.4 2.7 20.6 3.5

This age gap mostly persists if we narrow our view from the top 20 to the top 3. Men’s top 3 seeds at 2016 trials averaged nearly 2 years older than at this meet (old man Phelps certainly affected this stat). Women’s top 3 seeds were actually very similarly aged at a gap of only .2 years. It’s hard to make too many conclusions about the top 3 data as the sample size is much, much lower than the top 20 data.

Average Age Top 3 Seeds

Men Standard Deviation Women Standard Deviation
Nationals 2018 23.4 3.2 22.4 2.7
Trials 2016 25.3 4.4 22.6 3.3
Nationals 2014 24.4 3.9 21.3 3.2
Trials 2012 25.8 3.0 22.3 3.8
Nationals 2010 23.9 3.0 20.5 3.3
Trials 2008 23.7 2.3 22.1 4.3

Both Trials and Nationals tend to have large numbers of young swimmers but Trials has more older swimmers who’ve stuck around for one last shot at an Olympics. The standard deviation of the ages reflects this, especially for women. The standard deviation of Top 20 women’s ages at each of the last 3 trials has been above 3.4. At the last 3 mid cycle nationals it was 3.0 or below.

The men’s standard deviations have been a bit higher at nationals than trials, but not as clearly as the women. The age gap for men is accounted for by a shift right in the trials age distributions-fewer younger swimmers more older swimmers. This contrasts the women’s age shift which is explained by a heavy right tail- similar number of younger swimmers, more older swimmers. This can be seen in the distributions below.

Men’s Age distributions Top 20 Seeds (grey is Trials)

Women’s Age Distributions Top 20 Seeds (grey is Trials)

In This Story

7
Leave a Reply

3 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Nswim

I know that you guys did a prediction of Jr Pan Pacs based off of top times in the country, but you could do one based off of the physic sheets now that we know what everyone’s swimming. Just a suggestion

Yozhik

The only remarkable thing that deserves real attention and explanation in this statistics is more than 20% drop of std of the distribution in women’s case. It may mean that we are lucky to witness the generation of very exceptional swimmers that dominate the competition for years already.

Mark Rauterkus

Next challenge, the GEOGRAPHY of the swimmers.

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!