World Performance Comparison: Is the U.S. Ready?


By Matt Barbini//National Team High Performance Consultant

As we approach World Championship Trials next month, it seems like a good time to take a look at what the rest of the world has been up to in 2013. As you know, we hold our trials later than most other nations, so there is a bounty of information to look at as we plan for our international competitions this summer. For this article I chose to compare the top three performances of non-American athletes in Olympic events in 2013 against the corresponding time period from 2012 (January – June).


In general, the results are surprisingly close, though at first glance they may appear not to be. Of the 39 top three times in men’s Olympic events, 26 were faster in 2012 than 2013 including 11 of the 13 top overall times. On the women’s side 31 of the 39 top times were faster in 2012; however, four of the 13 top overall times have been faster in 2013.


Given those numbers, one might think that there is a huge disparity in favor of the Olympic year and that 2013 has marked a significant step backwards. In most events that is actually not the case. For example, in the men’s 100 free all three of the top times in 2012 were faster than the corresponding times in 2013. However, the combined time difference between the top times is just 0.78 seconds. In the women’s 100 free the combined disparity is even smaller at 0.38 seconds. See below.


Men 2012  2013    Women  2012   2013
100 Free   47.10    47.53      100 Free   52.75   52.83 
  47.63  47.93     53.29 53.51 
  48.02   48.07     53.57  53.66 


Another example is the 100 fly for both men and women.


Men  2012 2013   Women 2012 2013
100 Fly  51.31 51.19   100 Fly 56.79 57.18
  51.45  51.53     57.25 57.66
  51.67  51.70     57.48


For a complete breakdown of the comparison between 2012 and 2013 to this point please click HERE.


The challenge in these numbers is pretty clear. At World Championships the rest of the world is likely to be just as fast as they were at the Olympics, and in some cases even faster. In order to achieve the kind of success that we saw last summer our best athletes are going to have to be prepared to compete at that level again.

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