Swimming at the 2008 Summer Olympics

Dates 9 – 17 August 2008
Medal Events 32

At a normal Olympics the stories of the Games may have been the 25 world records broken during the competition or the double victories of Kosuke Kitajima, Britta Steffen, Steph Rice and Becky Adlington. The first champions from Korea and North Africa would also have been more widely feted as would the win of cancer survivor Maarten van der Weijden in the open water swim.

However the story of swimming at the 2008 Beijing Games was the story of one man. Michael Fred Phelps of Baltimore, USA arrived in China as a six-time Olympic champion, with his sights set on five individual and three relay titles from his third Olympic Games. He left undefeated, having broken a plethora of absolute Olympic records. Mark Spitz’s record for most gold medals at a single Games (7 in 1972) fell to Phelps as did the all-time total of Olympic championships held, depending on your view of the official status of the 1906 Olympics, either by Ray Ewry with 10 or shared between Spitz, Carl Lewis, Larysa Latynina and Paavo Nurmi with nine apiece. His eight gold medal haul also equalled his own and Aleksandr Dityatin’s shared record of eight medals of any colour at a single Games . Phelps’ performance at Beijing was such that his results would have placed him in the top ten of the overall medal table ahead of such countries as France and Spain. His efforts also earned him a profusion of awards including the Laureus and Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year awards for 2008.

Elsewhere 41-year-old Dara Torres returned from retirement to become the oldest female medallist in the history of the sport whilst the oldest world record still standing, the women’s 800 m set by Janet Evans at the Seoul Games of 1988, was finally broken by Becky Adlington.

The major controversy of the year was the introduction of a new generation of so called “super suits”. Woven with polyurethane, spandex and nylon there were claimed to give an aerodynamic advantage of up to 2 % on more traditional materials by more effectively compressing the body and trapping air for buoyancy. Described by some as a form of “technological doping” they were banned from the start of 2009.

Another “star” of the Games was the venue itself. The Beijing National Aquatics Center, which became popularly known as the Water Cube, won a succession of architectural awards and was almost universally praised by critics and fans alike. The design leaned heavily on Chinese symbolism and had a bubble effect on the outer walls which showed to brilliant effect when floodlit.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
50 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 14 – 16 August 2008 97 90
100 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 12 – 14 August 2008 64 55
200 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 10 – 12 August 2008 57 49
400 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 9 – 10 August 2008 36 26
1,500 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 15 – 17 August 2008 35 27
4 x 100 metres Freestyle Relay, Men Olympic 10 – 11 August 2008 72 16
4 x 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men Olympic 12 – 13 August 2008 73 16
100 metres Backstroke, Men Olympic 10 – 12 August 2008 45 36
200 metres Backstroke, Men Olympic 13 – 15 August 2008 40 31
100 metres Breaststroke, Men Olympic 9 – 11 August 2008 64 52
200 metres Breaststroke, Men Olympic 12 – 14 August 2008 52 38
100 metres Butterfly, Men Olympic 14 – 16 August 2008 65 51
200 metres Butterfly, Men Olympic 11 – 13 August 2008 44 39
200 metres Individual Medley, Men Olympic 13 – 15 August 2008 46 41
400 metres Individual Medley, Men Olympic 9 – 10 August 2008 29 22
4 x 100 metres Medley Relay, Men Olympic 15 – 17 August 2008 75 16
50 metres Freestyle, Women Olympic 15 – 17 August 2008 90 82
100 metres Freestyle, Women Olympic 13 – 15 August 2008 48 41
200 metres Freestyle, Women Olympic 11 – 13 August 2008 46 37
400 metres Freestyle, Women Olympic 10 – 11 August 2008 41 34
800 metres Freestyle, Women Olympic 14 – 16 August 2008 35 29
4 x 100 metres Freestyle Relay, Women Olympic 9 – 10 August 2008 67 15
4 x 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Women Olympic 13 – 14 August 2008 75 16
100 metres Backstroke, Women Olympic 10 – 12 August 2008 48 37
200 metres Backstroke, Women Olympic 14 – 16 August 2008 34 24
100 metres Breaststroke, Women Olympic 10 – 12 August 2008 49 39
200 metres Breaststroke, Women Olympic 13 – 15 August 2008 40 34
100 metres Butterfly, Women Olympic 9 – 11 August 2008 49 38
200 metres Butterfly, Women Olympic 12 – 14 August 2008 34 26
200 metres Individual Medley, Women Olympic 11 – 13 August 2008 38 29
400 metres Individual Medley, Women Olympic 9 – 10 August 2008 37 27
4 x 100 metres Medley Relay, Women Olympic 15 – 17 August 2008 74 16
1022 (569/453) 163 (152/128)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
50 metres Freestyle, Men César Cielo FilhoBRA Amaury LeveauxFRA Alain BernardFRA
100 metres Freestyle, Men Alain BernardFRA Eamon SullivanAUS Jason Lezak
César Cielo Filho
USA
BRA
200 metres Freestyle, Men Michael PhelpsUSA Park Tae-HwanKOR Peter VanderkaayUSA
400 metres Freestyle, Men Park Tae-HwanKOR Zhang LinCHN Larsen JensenUSA
1,500 metres Freestyle, Men Oussama MellouliTUN Grant HackettAUS Ryan CochraneCAN
4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay, Men United StatesUSA FranceFRA AustraliaAUS
4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men United StatesUSA Russian FederationRUS AustraliaAUS
100 metres Backstroke, Men Aaron PeirsolUSA Matt GreversUSA Arkady Vyachanin
Hayden Stoeckel
RUS
AUS
200 metres Backstroke, Men Ryan LochteUSA Aaron PeirsolUSA Arkady VyachaninRUS
100 metres Breaststroke, Men Kosuke KitajimaJPN Alexander Dale OenNOR Hugues DuboscqFRA
200 metres Breaststroke, Men Kosuke KitajimaJPN Brenton RickardAUS Hugues DuboscqFRA
100 metres Butterfly, Men Michael PhelpsUSA Milorad ČavićSRB Andrew LautersteinAUS
200 metres Butterfly, Men Michael PhelpsUSA László CsehHUN Takeshi MatsudaJPN
200 metres Individual Medley, Men Michael PhelpsUSA László CsehHUN Ryan LochteUSA
400 metres Individual Medley, Men Michael PhelpsUSA László CsehHUN Ryan LochteUSA
4 × 100 metres Medley Relay, Men United StatesUSA AustraliaAUS JapanJPN
50 metres Freestyle, Women Britta SteffenGER Dara TorresUSA Cate CampbellAUS
100 metres Freestyle, Women Britta SteffenGER Libby TrickettAUS Natalie CoughlinUSA
200 metres Freestyle, Women Federica PellegriniITA Sara IsakovičSLO Pang JiayingCHN
400 metres Freestyle, Women Becky AdlingtonGBR Katie HoffUSA Jo JacksonGBR
800 metres Freestyle, Women Becky AdlingtonGBR Alessia FilippiITA Lotte FriisDEN
4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay, Women NetherlandsNED United StatesUSA AustraliaAUS
4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Women AustraliaAUS People's Republic of ChinaCHN United StatesUSA
100 metres Backstroke, Women Natalie CoughlinUSA Kirsty CoventryZIM Margaret HoelzerUSA
200 metres Backstroke, Women Kirsty CoventryZIM Margaret HoelzerUSA Reiko NakamuraJPN
100 metres Breaststroke, Women Leisel JonesAUS Rebecca SoniUSA Mirna JukicAUT
200 metres Breaststroke, Women Rebecca SoniUSA Leisel JonesAUS Sara NordenstamNOR
100 metres Butterfly, Women Libby TrickettAUS Christine MagnusonUSA Jess SchipperAUS
200 metres Butterfly, Women Liu ZigeCHN Jiao LiuyangCHN Jess SchipperAUS
200 metres Individual Medley, Women Steph RiceAUS Kirsty CoventryZIM Natalie CoughlinUSA
400 metres Individual Medley, Women Steph RiceAUS Kirsty CoventryZIM Katie HoffUSA
4 × 100 metres Medley Relay, Women AustraliaAUS United StatesUSA People's Republic of ChinaCHN

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 12 9 10 31
Australia AUS 6 6 8 20
Japan JPN 2 0 3 5
Great Britain GBR 2 0 1 3
Germany GER 2 0 0 2
People's Republic of China CHN 1 3 2 6
Zimbabwe ZIM 1 3 0 4
France FRA 1 2 3 6
Italy ITA 1 1 0 2
Republic of Korea KOR 1 1 0 2
Brazil BRA 1 0 1 2
Netherlands NED 1 0 0 1
Tunisia TUN 1 0 0 1
Hungary HUN 0 3 0 3
Russian Federation RUS 0 1 2 3
Norway NOR 0 1 1 2
Serbia SRB 0 1 0 1
Slovenia SLO 0 1 0 1
Austria AUT 0 0 1 1
Canada CAN 0 0 1 1
Denmark DEN 0 0 1 1