After we covered the male swimmers’ Rio exploits (well, not all of them. Lochte’s deserve a blog of their own) it is time to turn our attention to the female swimmers. Same format, I’ll cover the swimmers who, in my opinion were in the top 10.
Now, some noticeable stuff that you won’t see in the top 10:
- The Campbell sisters – I had high expectations from both of them, but they simply did not deliver. Failed to even medal in an individual event. True, they were spectacular in the 4x100m freestyle relay, recording the two fastest splits in the final, but still. If they want to be featured in the blog’s top 10 for the World Championships next year in Budapest (and I know they want to) they must do better than that…
- Yulia Efimova – 2 silver medals in the breaststroke events and a phenomenal split in the 4x100m medley relay. But because of all of her doping controversies I hoped she doesn’t win gold in Rio. I’m glad that worked out.
- Ranomi Kromowidjojo – Damn, what happened to her? She was in my opinion THE BEST sprinter in the world just a few years ago, winning the double 50/100m freestyle in London. But in Rio? 0 medals…
- And speaking of swimmers who ruled London and dissapeared in Rio – wow, Missy Franklin… 😦 😦 😦
- Dana Vollmer – a good haul, 1 medal of each kind, but not enough to be in ze top 10.
10) Lilly King – 2 golds. Pulled off the surprising win over Yulia Efimova in the 100m breaststroke, with a new OR (1:04.93 minutes). I was glad she won, because I didn’t like the idea of Efimova winning a gold medal in Rio. Also did her thang in the 4x100m medley relay, swimming the 2nd fastest breaststroke split after Efimova, and contributing to the gold USA won in the event.
9) Pernille Blume – 1 gold, 1 bronze. In addition to being one of the prettiest swimmers in Rio, Pernille is also the owner of the best reaction after a win. Her utter disbelief and very emotional reaction after she won the 50m freestyle was so amazing – these are scenes that do not occur often in the pool. It made me so happy for her that I almost forgot that my pre-final favorites (the Campbell sisters, Kromowidjojo) didn’t win anything. It was just so beautiful to watch! Blume didn’t have much time to enjoy the medal on her neck at the medal ceremony because she was needed again in the pool, as the Danish quartet was getting ready to swim in the 4×100 medley relay. She did ok in that relay and contributed to the Danish bronze, which gave us the most beautiful podium I ever saw. Like, seriously. 30% of the top 10 prettiest swimmers in Rio are from Denmark.
8) Mireia Belmonte Garcia – 1 gold, 1 bronze. After a silver medal in the 200m butterfly in London, Mireia made amends by winning the gold in Rio, just holding off Emma McKeon by 0.03 of a second… In doing so she became the first female swimmer from Spain to win an Olympic gold. In addition, she also won the bronze medal in the 400m medley.
7) Emma McKeon – 1 gold, 2 silvers, 1 bronze. One of only two swimmers to medal in all 3 relay events in Rio. Considering the second one is a male swimmer whose name rhymes with Cycle Helps – that’s one big fucking achievement. I must admit I didn’t really know her before Rio – all of her medals from the World Championships were in the relays (is she the female Jason Lezak?). In Rio she won one individual medal – a bronze in the prestigious 200m freestyle, where she held off Pellegrini thanks to her strong start (Pellegrini outfasted her 58.73 seconds to 59.55 seconds over the final 100m). Her contribution to the Aussies’ gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay cannot be overlooked, but I think she was most spectacular in the 4×200 freestyle relay, where she had the fastest split among the humans (seeing as Ledecky is definitely an alien). McKeon’s split, 1:54.64 minutes, was even faster than Sjostrom’s! She gave the Australians the lead after her leg, but Team USA had Ledecky and it’s simply not fair. Also won a silver in the 4x100m medley relay.
6) Maya DiRado – 2 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze. In addition to her very successful Olympics, DiRado pulled off THE upset of the swimming events in Rio. After finishing behind Katinka Hosszu in the 200 and the 400 medleys, DiRado did the unthinkable and beat Katinka to win the gold in the 200m backstroke. At first it looked as if Katinka is gliding to her 4th gold medal in Rio, but DiRado had an exceptional 2nd 100m, covering the distance in 1:04.52 minutes compared to Katinka’s 1:05.15 minutes, catching her right at the finish and winning by 0.06 of a second! Also won a gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
5) Simone Manuel – 2 golds, 2 silvers. The best female sprinter in Rio, considering her gold in the 100m freestyle (in an OR of 52.70 seconds) and the silver in the 50m freestyle. Did her thang also in the 4x100m freestyle relay, swimming the fastest 1st 100m. It definitely wasn’t her fault the Americans had to settle for silver. Her freestyle split in the 4x100m medley relay (where the USAns won gold) was the second best in the pool (52.43 seconds).
4) Sarah Sjostrom – 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze. Probably my new favorite female swimmer, since I’m guessing we’re nearing the end of Federica Pellegrini’s career. I don’t know which one of her achievements impressed me the most – the gold medal and the WR in the 100m butterfly, where she was in a league of her own, or the silver medal in the 200m freestyle, where she was the only swimmer who threatened Ledecky and only lost to her by 0.35 of a second. In fact, Sjostrom’s 2nd 100m were faster than Katie’s (58.22 seconds to 58.30). She really surprised me in that one! I mean, I knew her as an exceptional sprinter and as the best butterfly swimmer out there, but damn! Homegirl got skillz! She can hold her own against the best 200m freestylers as well! The bronze in the 100m freestyle was the dessert on a really successful Olympic campaign, She also gave everything she had in the relays, and had the 4th fastest split in the 4x100m freestyle relay (where the Swedes finished 5th) and the 3rd fastest split in the 4×200 freestyle relay (where the Swedes finished… 5th). I remember Sarah as a 16 year-old in Rome 2009, amazing the world with the win and the WR in the 100m butterfly. Now, at 23 years of age, she is already a veteran. I really like her.
3) Penny Oleksiak – 1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronzes. THE revelation of these games. Only 16 years old but – DAMN. I mean – silver in the 100m butterfly behind Sjostrom, with a new WJR, another WJR that accompanied her shared gold in the 100m freestyle. AND two relay bronzes (in the freestyle) to which she contributed greatly and was Canada’s best swimmer each time. This kid’s going places for sure. I’m eager to watch her future exploits.
2) Katinka Hosszu – 3 golds, 1 silver. Had the Iron Lady won the 200m backstroke as well, there’s a 60% chance I would have put her in 1st place. I mean – 4 individual gold medals?! But she didn’t and so she has to settle for 2nd. Still, her Rio exploits were phenomenal and she was the most successful swimmer – male or female – in terms of individual events. It’s hard to believe she didn’t win a single medal in three previous Olympic Games! But she definitely made amends in Rio. She OWNED the medley events, winning the 200m with a couple of new ORs (the WR was hers anyway) but her greatest achievement was in the 400m: There was no doubt she would win gold, but could she break Ye Shiwen’s notorious WR from London? She came close in the heats, but despite having a 3.25 seconds advantage over the WR at the 300m point, she still missed it by 15 hundredths of a second, a testament to Ye Shiwen’s crazy final 100m. But still, I hoped Katinka could do it in the final. And indeed, in the final she gave herself a bigger advantage before the final 100m, 5.25 seconds, and this time the WR could not catch her no matter how hard it tried: she broke it by more than 2 seconds. Despite Katinka’s faster overall time, I feel like her splits are more reasonable than Shiwen’s. Anyway, to cap off her remarkable Rio campaign Katinka also won gold in the 100m backstroke and silver in the 200m backstroke, which was very very close to being gold as well. She also swam the final leg for Hungaria in the 4x200m freestyle relay, but despite swimming brilliantly (1:55.74), it was not enough to win them a medal and they finished 6th.
1) Katie Ledecky – 4 golds, 1 silver. Is there anything this girl can’t do? Katie is the MichaelSportStats.com of swimming. I never saw her lose an individual swim. She was truly phenomenal in Rio, sweeping all the distances starting from 200m, and setting WRs in both the 400m and the 800m. In those two distances no other swimmer was even close: she won the 400m by a margin of 4.77 seconds and the 800m by 11.38 seconds. In the latter she edged closer to the mythical 8 minutes barrier, setting the new WR at 8:04.79 minutes. The 200m freestyle was a bit more difficult, with the biggest challenge coming from Sjostrom, who in fact had the fastest 2nd 100m in the pool. But still it was Ledecky who won by 0.35 of a second. Unsurprisingly, she was also by far the fastest swimmer in the 4x200m freestyle relay final (1:53.74). Despite the fact that Team USA was only 2nd after 600m, almost a second behind the Australians, I had no doubt in my mind they will win, thanks to Ledecky who was swimming the anchor leg. And indeed, Katie caught Australia’s Tamsin Cook in the first 100m and increased her lead over her with every stroke, giving USA the gold. The 4x100m freestyle relay was a different story, and Australia had better sprinters. Nevertheless, Katie gave it all and recorded a very good split of 52.79 seconds. Four gold medals and a silver one – what a fantastic haul! Better than Missy Franklin’s 4 golds and one bronze 4 years ago. And speaking of Missy, it makes me sad that she is not the swimmer she was just a few years ago, and yet I’m pretty confident Katie will not experience a similar drastic slip. I’m sure we’ll see her in Tokyo, aged 23, pwning the pool once again. This gal is for real, yo.