Beyond Medals: An NCAA-Inspired Scoring System for Swimming World Championships

Beyond Medals: An NCAA-Inspired Scoring System for Swimming World Championships


In the dynamic and exhilarating world of competitive swimming, the landscape is perpetually evolving. This year, World Aquatics  brings us the captivating 50m World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. Powerhouse nations vie for dominance, records are shattered, and new talents rise from the waters to challenge the established elite. The recent world championships have been a thrilling spectacle, with traditional swimming superpowers trading places in a heated contest of speed, endurance, and technique.

At Phlex, we've adopted a unique approach to unveil the narrative behind these championships. We've decided to balance the discussion by shedding light on the true depth and breadth of each country's swimming program. We've scored the entire meet as if it were a US NCAA College meet. This approach not only highlights top performers but also uncovers the countries with deep talent pools and robust programs.


For our analysis, we adopted the scoring system used in US NCAA College meets. This scoring system emphasizes not just the top performers but the depth of a team, providing a balanced view of each country's capabilities. Here's how the scoring system works:

Individual Events:

  • 1st place earns 20 points
  • 2nd place earns 17 points
  • 3rd place earns 16 points
  • 4th place earns 15 points
  • 5th place earns 14 points
  • 6th place earns 13 points
  • 7th place earns 12 points
  • 8th place earns 11 points
  • 9th place earns 9 points (regardless of time comparison with Top 8 times)
  • 10th place earns 7 points
  • 11th place earns 6 points
  • 12th place earns 5 points
  • 13th place earns 4 points
  • 14th place earns 3 points
  • 15th place earns 2 points
  • 16th place earns 1 point
  • Relay Events: Points for relay events are doubled and only Top 8.

This system diverges from traditional medal counts, focusing not solely on the top three performers. It permits us to delve deeper into each country's roster, providing a comprehensive view of their capabilities and the overall depth of their team. While this approach may disadvantage smaller countries lacking the resources to field a full team, it offers valuable insights into the strength and depth of larger programs.

Team Results

Calculations were based on the provided XML file of sessions up to date on the Omega Timing event site.

Here is the Top 20 table of results as of 7-30-2023 at Noon ET.

Country or Club Total Points Number of Swimmers Relay Points
United States 1173.0 33 280.0
Australia 872.0 25 292.0
China 608.0 21 198.0
Great Britain 471.0 17 188.0
Canada 432.0 11 192.0
Japan 357.0 23 122.0
Italy 351.0 17 90.0
France 345.0 15 82.0
Netherlands 278.0 11 106.0
Germany 243.0 7 90.0
Sweden 178.0 7 56.0
Brazil 172.0 9 96.0
Hungary 152.0 12 24.0
Korea 93.0 7 26.0
Poland 75.0 6 0.0
Switzerland 74.0 5 0.0
New Zealand 72.0 3 0.0
Spain 70.0 4 22.0
Ireland 69.0 5 0.0

Our analysis has resulted in some captivating findings.

  • Top 10 Countries by Total Score: In the visual representation of the top 10 countries by total score, the United States emerges as the clear leader in terms of points earned when both individual and relay events are accounted for. Australia, despite having a smaller team, demonstrates an incredible performance, securing the second spot and edging out China.
Total points by country
  • When examining the total points by the number of swimmers, we see Australia's incredible efficiency. With fewer swimmers, they have managed to perform exceptionally, a testament to their swimming program's strength. Their success is not just about individual brilliance, but also reflects a robust and highly effective training regime.
Total points by number of swimmers
  • In terms of relay points, Australia is the leader, reflecting the depth of talent in their program. This is an important area to highlight Australia's impressive performance too. Even with fewer swimmers, they still secure a significantly larger number of relay points over the United States, reflecting their superb teamwork and coordination.
Relay points by Country
  • Score Distribution Across All Countries: The distribution of scores across all countries further paints the competitive landscape. While most countries cluster at the lower end of the score spectrum, a select few, including Australia and the United States, achieve high scores. This illustrates the dominance of these countries in the world championships.

Individual Results

Athlete Country or Club Total Points Number of Events
Summer MCINTOSH Canada 71 4
Regan SMITH United States 67 4
Kaylee MCKEOWN Australia 60 3
Léon MARCHAND France 60 3
Haiyang QIN China 60 3
Katie LEDECKY United States 57 3
Ahmed HAFNAOUI Tunisia 57 3
Samuel SHORT Australia 53 3
Yufei ZHANG China 53 3
Ariarne TITMUS Australia 53 3
  • The top individual performance came from Canada's Summer McIntosh, who scored a remarkable 71 points across four events.
  • Regan Smith from the United States followed closely, accumulating a total of 67 points, also from four events.
  • A trio of athletes - Léon Marchand from France, Kaylee Mckeown from Australia, and Haiyang Qin from China - tied for third place, each scoring 60 points over three events.
Top 10 Scoring Individual Athletes 2023 World Championships
  • The top 10 list also featured noteworthy performances from Katie Ledecky (USA), Ahmed Hafnaoui (Tunisia), Ariarne Titmus (Australia), Yufei Zhang (China), and Marrit Steenbergen (Netherlands).

Detailed Statistical Analysis

  • The average total score for the top 10 athletes was approximately 59 points, indicating a high level of performance across the board.
  • The median total score was 57, with half of the top 10 athletes scoring more than this and half scoring less.
  • The range of total scores among the top 10 was 18, with the highest score being 71 (Summer McIntosh) and the lowest score being 53 (Ariarne Titmus, Yufei Zhang, Marrit Steenbergen).
  • On average, each top 10 athlete participated in about 3.3 events, showing their versatility and ability to maintain high performance across multiple events.
  • Summer McIntosh and Regan Smith participated in the most events (4 each), demonstrating not only their skills but also their endurance.
  • The depth of talent seen in these athletes contributes significantly to their respective teams' overall performance and will be crucial in future competitions. Their consistent high scores and ability to perform across multiple events make them some of the most valuable and impactful athletes in the swimming world today.


These results provide a fresh perspective on the world swimming championships, illuminating the depth of talent within each country's program, and emphasizing the importance of each swimmer's contribution to the team's overall score. While the focus often falls on medal-winning athletes, this analysis underscores the significant role played by swimmers in 'depth' positions.

It's also vital to underscore the exceptional performance by the Australian team at this meet. Despite a smaller team size, Australia has shown itself to be a dominant swimming powerhouse, leading the gold medal tally and showcasing a stellar performance. Their extraordinary efficiency is a testament to the strength and effectiveness of their swimming program, further cementing their place as one of the world's top swimming nations.


Our NCAA-style analysis of the swimming world championships provides a nuanced view of the global competitive landscape. It goes beyond the glimmer of gold medals to uncover the strength and depth of each country's swimming program.

It's essential to highlight the standout performance of the Australian team. Their dominance in securing gold medals, combined with a high overall score, testifies to the strength and effectiveness of their program.

The power and promise of Australia's swimming program are further accentuated when considering a hypothetical scenario where a cap is placed on the number of swimmers, similar to the NCAA format. In such a case, Australia would emerge as the unequivocal victors or 'NCAA Champs'. Despite the U.S. having 8 more individual scoring swimmers, Australia's performance outshines them. This is a testament to the incredible depth and quality of Australia's swimming talent. Australia’s ability to achieve such extraordinary results with fewer swimmers underlines their efficiency and strategic prowess, making them the epitome of swimming excellence.

As we move forward, these insights will play a pivotal role in shaping the strategies of athletes, coaches, and stakeholders in the swimming world, including us at Phlex. By aligning our marketing and product strategies with these trends, we can further solidify our position as a leader in swimming technology, and continue to support the swimming community in their pursuit of excellence.

The waters of competition are deep and wide, but with the right insights and strategies, we can all navigate them successfully. After all, whether it's the gold-medal champions or those adding depth to the team, every swimmer contributes to their country's swimming story.

The Phlex Team
July 31, 2023

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