By the end of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the United States led the swimming medal count with 11 gold medals, followed by Australia (9 gold medals), Great Britain (4 gold medals), China (3 gold medals), the Russian Olympic Committee and Japan (2 gold medals each).
Usually, the medal table is sorted by the number of gold medals, then silver, then bronze. However, FINA has been using a scoring system in order to rank the national teams. It is a measure that scores the top 16 finishers per individual event and the top 8 finishers per relay event, and better recognizes the depth of a nation than does the medals table. It is very similar to the NCAA scoring system, and has been used at the World Short Course Championships.
What if this system had been used at the Olympics? How would it affect the stands? Instagram’s Swimming Stats page has published the ranking.
The team scorings are based on the following points:
- Individual events, places 1-16: 18, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points.
- Relay events, places 1-8: 36, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20 points.
We have considered all swimming events, including the marathon swimming.
The United States and Australia would still be in the top-2. But Great Britain would be surpassed by the Russian Olympic Committee, Italy and China. Why does this happen? Note that the British had 32 top-16 finishers, while the Russians had 41, and the Italians had 40. So, despite winning more medals, the British didn’t show as much depth as those two nations.
This also explains the huge difference in the Italian’s rank in comparison to the medal table. Italian swimmers didn’t win any gold medals in Tokyo, and that’s why, on the medal table, Italy is lower than Canada, Hungary, South Africa, Brazil, Germany and Tunisia, all these nations having won one gold medal apiece.
But Italy won 7 medals overall, only behind the U.S., Australia and Great Britain. And the high number of finals and semifinals justifies their 4th position in the scoring table.
That’s the same reason why Italy stands #2 in the scoring table in men’s events (the mixed relay scoring has been splitted, so half is counted for men and half is counted for women), and that’s also why the United States leads the scoring among women.
Remember that Australia won eight gold medals in women’s events and the United States won three gold medals. But Australia swimmers won 14 medals, and American swimmers won 18. Also, Australia had 25 top-16 finishers, while the United States had 33.