Olympic Medal Count 2012: Dominance in Swimming Ensured USA Would Finish on Top

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIAugust 13, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02:  Gold medallist Michael Phelps (R) of the United States looks on along with silver medallist Ryan Lochte (L) of the United States following the Men's 200m Individual Medley final on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 2, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The United States of America finished on top of the overall medal table at the 2012 London Olympics, 16 medals ahead of second-place China and 22 ahead of third-place Russia.

Of course, nobody wins the Olympic Games. The medal count is just something we do to make it the competition more interesting, and also to make the Games more about country versus country rather than individual athlete versus individual athlete.

It seems a bit ridiculous, but the makes the Games more competitive—and everybody loves some added competition.

American athletes won more medals in swimming than they did in any other competition. Track and field was a close second, with 29 medals being brought home, but it was no contest other than that.

The amount of medals won in swimming was equal to the amount won in basketball, beach volleyball, cycling, diving, soccer, fencing, gymnastics, judo, rowing and shooting combined.

American dominance in the pool was expected in London, but it becomes more amazing the deeper you search into it.

The 31 medals that American swimmers won in the pool were more than every country that participated in the Olympic Games aside from China, Russia, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Australia and France.

Michael Phelps won six gold medals. Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Allison Schmitt won five apiece. Dana Vollmer, Rebecca Soni, Matt Grevers, Nathan Adrian and Cullen Jones each won three medals each in the Games.

Numerous others, including Ricky Berens, Jessica Hardy and Elizabeth Beisel, among others, contributed with two medals.

The reason for the American dominance is probably due to the fact that the majority of the countries in the world don't invest much in their Olympic swimming programs. Other countries focus more on other sports such as soccer, track and field, gymnastics and others.

It isn't just that the American swimmers win, it's how they win.

Phelps became the most-decorated Olympian of all time in London. Lochte was supposed to usurp his throne this summer, but was unable to. Franklin and Schmitt made up a tandem of swimming powerhouses.

The American swimmers are always the story in the Olympic Games—as they should be. Not just because they are American, but because they are the cream of the crop in the sport.

It's not because Americans are born better swimmers. You can chalk it up to numerous different things: Population size, greater vested interest, better resources, etc.

When a country has such a huge leg up in one particular competition, it shouldn't come as a surprise when that country finishes at the top of the overall medal count.

Here are the final top-five countries.

Olympic Medal Tracker Gold Silver Bronze
United States Total: 104 46 29 29
China Total: 88 38 27 23
Russia Total: 82 24 25 33
Great Britain Total: 65 29 17 19
Germany Total: 44 11 19 14

Here is a link to the final standings.