We’ve had a fun and open conversation about adding (or not) the 50’s of stroke to the Olympic Games. Previous posts can be found here (Big Mistake: IOC Skips 50’s of Stroke) and here (50’s of Stroke: Part Deux).

Sucks to be Adam Peaty

Just kidding, it doesn’t. The dude is on top of the world and on the cover of magazines. His 100 Breast in Rio was considered the most impressive race of the Olympics — at least on the Men’s side of things. He won by over a second and a half in a race less than 1 minute long. He demolished the Olympic and World Records and is looking to be the first man under 57 seconds while the rest of the field is still trying to get under 1:00 or :59. 

But, the IOC did him no favors by skipping over the 50’s of stroke because Peaty is a sprinter — the 200 is not really his thing. Sure, they gave him an additional relay to try and win more gold medals but he’ll have to rely on 3 other swimmers to help him mine more Gold rather than rely on himself. 

Is it his fault nobody can keep up with his blistering pace over 50 or 100 meters? The IOC throws Sun Yang and Katie Ledecky another bone as the sport loves its dominating superstars — the one’s that can win 6, 7, or 8 gold medals.

Striving for Parity, er, Disparity

FINA recently added it’s 208th official country/swimming federation: Bhutan, a country in South Asia. 

We’ve had 5 Olympiads in the 2000’s. 504 swimming medals. America with a staggering 31% of them. 82% of countries haven’t won an Olympic medal over this span. Only 8 countries have won at least one medal in each of the last 5 Olympiads. The full breakdown can be seen here in our blog from last summer.

Parity is a big topic in professional sports — just turn on sports radio. 

Prior academic research is flush with studies of how the four major North American sports leagues and divisions of professional soccer want, need, and strive for parity. Parity leads to less predictable outcomes and has been shown to increase game attendance and league revenues. Further, parity was the primary goal for the implementations of revenue sharing in Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL). – Dr. Michael Lopez, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biostatistics at Brown University

Everybody loves an underdog. Look no further than Suriname’s Anthony Nesty. He beat Matt Biondi in the 100 Fly in 1988, still the biggest upset ever in swimming. Suriname put Nesty on a coin and a stamp as well as naming a plane after him.

“It was the first time ever that somebody from a tiny country did anything on that world stage. It was history.” – Anthony Nesty

High Income Countries (America, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, Britain, China, Japan, Australia, etc) are using underwater cameras that analyze everything and flumes to test hydrodynamics. We’ve got power towers and 12 types of paddles and fins and scientists testing lactic acid and hemoglobin levels. Talk to any President of any tiny swimming federation and ask them about their problems. Many don’t have a pool. Instead, they train in the ocean, hotel pools, or anywhere they can find clean water.

Maldives is a series of coral islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. This is a video from their World Champs Trials last week: the Women’s 50 Fly. They use a whistle to begin the race. They are swimming in the ocean in the dark with lane lines that only have a dozen buoys on them.

With a massive lack of resources, would it take longer to develop someone to swim a 50 or a 1500? Adding 3 additional 50’s would certainly increase the opportunity for a puncher’s chance of perhaps making a Semi Final…then perhaps a Final…then perhaps a medal.

Not adding the 50’s of stroke sucks for Peaty and sucks for parity. But perhaps the bigger question is, what are we doing to help the sport from the bottom up?