Performance Comparisons: Trials vs. Olympics


Ryan Lochte swims the prelims of the 400 IM at the 2012 Olympic Games. (Small)BY KATIE ARNOLD//HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSULTANT

As a follow up to my previous article on Olympic Trials Progressions, I did some research into how our team went on to perform at the Olympics. We collected information from 56 total swims (52 individual swims plus 4 relay leadoffs) and tracked the best Olympic performance compared to each athlete’s lifetime best and their fastest performance at Trials. Based on what we found, I made the following observations:

  • 63% of these swims were faster at the Olympics than at Trials 
  • 36% of these swims were also lifetime bests
  • Out of 40 total athletes, 60% (12 men and 12 women) had at least one swim that was faster at
    the Olympics than at Trials

I also went back and compared this information with the information collected from Trials. Out of 20 swims at Trials where an athlete failed to beat his or her entry time, half went on to improve upon this entry time at the Olympics. Another interesting note from this comparison is that while Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps were responsible for 9 of these 20 swims, all but one of their individual swims at the Olympics were faster than their top Trials Performances (11 out of 12).


For complete data for all swims, click here.

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