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Let’s take a reality check before we bag Australia’s swimming team

By Chris Lewis - posted Monday, 13 August 2012


How poor was the performance of the Australian swimming pool team at the 2012 London games compared to previous Olympic Games teams?

As Table 1 indicates, if we compare medals won at the last 17 Olympic Games, the 2012 Australian team performed quite badly, although the 10 medals won in 2012 was nowhere near as disastrous as the 1976 and 1988 teams which won one and three medals respectively. 

In terms of individual freestyle events, however, Australia’s failure to win male or female event matches 2008, 1984, 1980, 1976, 1952 and 1948.

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And with Australia’s female 4 x 100m freestyle relay team wining gold, the 2012 team avoided emulating the 1948 and 1976 teams by not winning at least one swimming gold medal. 

Table 1: Olympic Games Medals won by Australian swimmers in 1948-2012 (gold medals won in brackets)

 

 

Total

Men

Women

Total

Freestyle

Individual

Men

Freestyle

Individual

Women

Freestyle

Individual

Total

Relays

Men relays

Women

relays

1948

4

3

1

2

2

0

0

0

0

1952

1 (1)

1 (1)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1956

14(8)

8(5)

6(3)

10(5)

5(3)

5(2)

2 (2)

1(1)

1(1)

1960

13(5)

9(4)

4(1)

6(4)

5(3)

1(1)

4

2

2

1964

9(4)

7(3)

2(1)

4(2)

3(1)

1(1)

3

2

1

1968

8(3)

5(2)

3(1)

4(2)

3(2)

1

3

2

1

1972

9(6)

1(1)

8(5)

6(3)

2(1)

4(2)

0

0

0

1976

1

1

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

1980

7(2)

5(1)

2(1)

3(1)

2

1(1)

1(1)

1(1)

0

1984

12(1)

9(1

3

2

2

0

2

2

0

1988

3(1)

2(1)

1

3(1)

2(1)

1

0

0

0

1992

9(1)

4(1)

5

5(1)

3(1)

2

0

0

0

1996

12(2)

7(1)

5(1)

4(1)

4(1)

0

3

1

2

2000

18(5)

12(4)

6(1)

4(3)

3(2)

1(1)

5(2)

3(2)

2

2004

15(7)

6(3

9(4)

7(4)

5(3)

2(1)

3(2)

1

2(2)

2008

20(6)

8

12(6)

4

2

2

6(2)

3

3(2)

2012

10(1)

2

6(1)

2

1

1

3(1)

1

2(1)

 

But what of the future? Does Australia have the depth to rebound at coming Olympic Games?

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If we go by the number of Australians making finals in London, as illustrated by Table 2, then Australia’s performance of 28 finalists compares favourably with recent Olympic Games since 1992.

Table 2: Number of Australian finalists in swimming at Olympic Games 1992-2012

 

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About the Author

Chris Lewis has an interest in all economic, social and environmental issues, but believes that the struggle for the ‘right’ policy mix remains an elusive goal in such a complex and competitive world.

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