The Olympics Rivalry- USA vs Australia: Who will win more medals at 2021 Tokyo Olympics in Swimming?

Swimming at the Olympics is one of the most exciting events to watch, with Australia and US having a rivalry in the pool. Let us take a look at the history of these two countries, and how they have fared in the past.

US vs Australia's Age Old Rivalry in Swimming
US vs Australia's Age Old Rivalry in Swimming

The US and Australia are two of the greatest powerhouses in the swimming pool. The Olympics are an exciting time for everyone, with the 2 best countries fighting it out valiantly every year in the pool, with the hopes of taking the glory each year.

Australia’s best event by far is swimming- an Overview

Australian Swimmer
Australian Swimmer

Swimming is by far Australia’s best event at the Olympics, with representation at every Summer Olympics since 1900. With the likes of  Ian Thorpe, Dawn Fraser, Leisel Jones, Petria Thomas, Susie O’Neill, Grant Hackett, Murray Rose, Lisbeth Trickett and Michael Klim representing Australia, the benchmark for swimmers is very high.

The first of Australia’s medals came along in 1900, where swimmer Frederick Lane, Australia’s sole swimming representative took home 2 gold medals. Australia has won a total of 188 medals at the Olympics with 58 of them being gold. Australia’s strongest ever performance was in the 1956 Olympics, of which they were host.

The US has the most medals in swimming at the Olympics- an Overview

American swimmer
American swimmer

The US has the most medals in the Olympics in swimming, a whopping 553, out of which 246 are gold. Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, Jenny Thompson, Matt Biondi, Amy Van Dyken, Ryan Lochte and Katie Ledecky are just some of the players who have achieved glory for the US.

Charles Daniels was the first American to win a swimming medal at the Olympics in 1904. He won the gold medal in the 200m and 400m freestyle event. Michael Phelps is America’s greatest swimmer, who holds the record for the most Gold medals won in a single Olympics. He won 8 Olympic medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has also been the most successful Olympian for 4 Games in a row.

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With the competition always neck and neck, let us take a look at the last 5 Olympic Games, and how US and Australia have fared.

Sydney 2000 Olympics – USA comes out on top, with Australia a close second

Australian team at Sydney Olympics
Australian team at Sydney Olympics

The swimming competitions at the Sydney Olympics took place at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre in Homebush.

United States was the most successful, with a total tally of 33 and Australia came second, by winning a total of 18 medals.

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The likes of Anthony Ervin, Misty Heim, Lenny Krayzelburg and Brooke Bennet competed for the United States. The United States broke 6 Olympic records and 4 world records, and won 4 of the 6 relay races.

Australia on the other hand, had representatives like Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Susie O’Neill and Leisel Jones. They broke 3 world records and won 2 of the relay races that year.

Athens 2004 Olympics – Australia closes the gap

Australian team at Athens Olympics
Australian team at Athens Olympics

The 2004 Athens Olympics swimming races took place at the Athens Olympic Aquatic Centre in Marousi. The United States produced 28 medals this year, with Australia coming in second with a total of 15 medals. Both countries had a decrease in medals since 2000, but US managed to maintain its lead

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This was the year the legendary Michael Phelps made his debut. He won 6 gold medals and 2 bronze medals for the US. The US broke 5 Olympic records and 3 world records. They won 3 out of the 6 relay races that year. Athletes like Michael Phelps, Gary Hall Jr., Aaron Peirsol, Amanda Beard and Natalie Coughlin represented the US

Australia came in strong, with the athletes breaking 1 Olympic record and 2 world records. Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Jodie Henry and Petria Thomas were some notable athletes from Australia.

Beijing 2008 Olympics – Both countries win their most medals till date

Beijing Olympics
Beijing Olympics

The swimming competitions at the 2008 Summer Olympics were held at the Beijing National Aquatics Centre. It was the highest medal tally for both the countries.

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This was the year that Michael Phelps broke the record of the most Olympic Gold medals ever won in a game, by bagging 8 gold medals in total. 1 Olympic record was broken by the US and 10 world records were set. Michael Phelps, Rebecca Soni, Natalie Coughlin, Aaron Peirsol and Ryan Lochte impressed the world.

Australia had its best performance this year, breaking one Olympic record and setting 4 world records. The women impressed this year, with the likes of Leisel Jones, Stephanie Rice, Lisbeth Trickett winning Olympic golds.

United States won three of the relay races, while Australia was close behind at 2.

London 2012 Olympics – Australia’s most underwhelming performance in a long time

US Team at London Olympics
US Team at London Olympics

The swimming portion of the London Olympics took place at the Aquatic centre. It was Australia’s worst performance yet, with only one gold medal, and countries like China, France, Netherlands and South Africa surpassing them in the medal tally.

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4 Olympic records were set by the US and 3 world records were broken. The US won 4 of the 6 relay races that year and the likes of Michael Phelps, Matt Grevers, Tyler Clary, Rebecca Soni, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky performing exceptionally.

The Australians put up a disappointing performance, with only one gold medal in the women’s relay race, breaking the Olympic record. Alicia Clouts and James Magnussen were some of the stand out performances that year.

Rio 2016 Olympics – Australia barely managed to improve, While the US won their most medals yet

US Team at Rio Olympics
US Team at Rio Olympics

Swimming at the 2016 Olympics took place at the Aquatic Centre in Rio. Despite their mediocre performance, Australia stood second on the medal table, behind the US.

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3 Olympic records and 3 world records were set by the US. The US team won an excellent 5 out of the 6 relay races. The women impressed this year, with Katie Ledecky taking home 4 gold medals. Lilly King and Maya DiRado also impressed, with Michael Phelps and Ryan Murphy shining.

Australia broke 2 world records, and won 1 relay race. Kyle Chamers, Mack Horton and Cate Campbell were the stars of the Olympics.

Will Australia be able to make a comeback against the unstoppable Americans at the Tokyo Olympics?

The 2020 Olympics will be an exciting time for swimming for Australia and the USA. With Australia going for quality over quantity, this could be the year that Australia makes a comeback. With Michael Phelps retired, this year the Olympic hopes will be carried on by the younger, newer swimmers taking charge.

With both the US and Australian Trials over, let us take a look at the winners in each event and how Australia stacks up against US this year.

EventUSA MenTimeAustralia MenTime
50 m freestyle
100 m freestyleCaeleb Dressel47.39sKyle Chalmers47.59s
200 m freestyleKeiran Smith1.45.29sKyle Chalmers1.45.48s
400 m freestyleKieran Smith3.44.86sElijah Winnington3.42.65s
800 m freestyleBobby Finke7.48.22sJack McLoughlin7.42.51s
1500 m freestyleJack McLoughlin14.52.69s
100 m backstrokeRyan Murphy52.33sMitch Larkin53.40s
200 m backstrokeRyan Murphy1.54.20sTristin Hollard1.56.44s
100 m breaststrokeMichael Andrew58.73s
200 m breaststrokeNic Fink2.07.55sZac Stubblety-Cook2.06.28s
100 m butterflyCaeleb Dressel 49.87sMatthew Temple50.45s
200 m butterflyZac Hearting1:55.06sMatthew Temple1:55.25s
200 m indvidual medleyMichael Andrew1.55.44sMitch Larkin1:56.29s
400 m individual medleyChase Kalisz4.09.09sBrendon Smith4:10.04s
US vs Australia Swimming Timings at the Tokyo Olympic Trials- Men
EventUSA WomenTimeAustralia WomenTime
50 m freestyleEmma McKeon23.93s
100 m freestyleAbbie Weitzeil 53.53sEmma McKeon52.35s
200 m freestyleKatie Ledecky 1.55.11sAriarne Titmus1:53.09s
400 m freestyleKatie Ledecky 4.01.27sAriarne Titmus3:56.90s
800 m freestyleKatie Ledecky 8.14.62sAriarne Titmus8:15.57s
1500 m freestyleKatie Ledecky 15.40.50sMaddy Gough15:46.13s
100 m backstrokeRegan Smith58.35sKaylee McKeown57.45s
200 m backstrokeRhyan White 2.05.73sKaylee McKeown2:04.28s
100 m breaststrokeLilly King1.04.79sChelsea Hodges1:05.99s
200 m breaststrokeAnnie Lazor2.21.07sJenna Strauch2:23.12s
100 m butterflyTorri Huske55.66sEmma McKeon55.93s
200 m butterflyHail Flickinger2.05.85sBrianna Throssell2:07.63s
200 m indvidual medleyAlex Walsh2.09.30sKaylee McKeown2:08.19s
400 m individual medleyEmma Weyant4.33.81s
US vs Australia Swimming Timings at the Tokyo Olympic Trials- Women

With the competition looking neck to neck at the respective Olympic trials, the Swimming events in Tokyo Olympics will definitely be exciting to watch.

Also read: USA Swimming Olympic Trials: Michael Andrew breaks the American Record twice in 100m breaststroke