Is the Swimming World Catching Up to the US?

Digital Composite

Those of you who watched the recent World Championships results were probably as shocked as I was with the Day 1 news that both the US and Australian Men’s teams missed making finals in the 4×100 Freestyle relays. Both did as they always do – swam 4 slower swimmers in the heats to rest up the 4 fastest for finals. But unlike other years, neither made finals. In fact, they weren’t that close, with the US team finishing tied for 11th, and the Australian team finishing 13th.

On the surface, it looked like both countries badly miscalculated how fast the other countries would swim. Another alternative is that both countries had unanticipated substandard swims by their B teams. A third alternative is simply that no thinking was involved, and both countries just carried out their usual practice . After all, it had always worked in the past.

I suspect that it was all of the above. Certainly, the morning swims weren’t fantastic by either country. In fact, you have to go back to 2007 to find a world championship when where those times would make finals. But the problem is also that the margin for poor swims is now so small that this practice is inherently risky.

So what does this mean for the swimming world? Is the rest of the world catching up to the swimming powerhouses? Is the US losing their dominance?

The World

We’ll start by determining if the rest of the world is catching up.

There are a few ways to test this. After every World Championships, FINA releases a thorough analysis of all Championships since they started in 1973 (here), including how many countries won events, and how many countries won medals. (The latest release including the recently concluded 2015 Championships won’t be released for a while.)

However, I …read more

Source: Rick’s Blog