Olympic Swimming: 2008 Set the Gold Standard for Records

By Caelin Miltko • April 6th, 2017

Swimming features some of the most well-known athletes in the Olympics. Michael Phelps, Jenny Thompson and Mark Spitz were some of the superstars from their given Olympic years.

The record for most Olympic gold medals earned in a single Olympics has been held by two swimmers. Spitz earned it in 1972 and Phelps earned it in 2008.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics was an especially fast year for swimming. It was the year of the LZR Racer suit, which has since been banned from competition. The suit increased buoyancy and compressed the body. Some competitors wore more than one to increase the effect.

The 2008 Olympics were called the ‘fastest ever’ in swimming because of these suits and a look at the numbers seem to prove it. More swimming records were broken at that Olympics than any since 2000.

The United States generally dominates Olympic swimming, as illustrated in the map below.  A chart showing the full data set can be found at the bottom of this post.

Individually, Americans also dominate. The two most decorated Olympic swimmers, Michael Phelps and Jenny Thompson, are both American.