Olympic Crystal-Ball Gazer Predicts 5 Golds For Phelps, 4 For Ledecky, 3 For Seebohm

Katie Ledecky [Photo: Patrick B. Kraemer]

“If the Rio de Janeiro Olympics were held today, the United States would win the most medals — and the most golds. And American swimmer Michael Phelps would collect five more gold medals and a bronze, bringing his overall total to 28 with a career gold-medal haul of 23.” So starts an Associated Press report on research by number-cruncher Simon Gleave. There’ll also be four golds for Katie Ledecky (USA) and three golds a silver for Emily Seebohm (AUS), both swimmers who would doubtless wish it was that simple

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“If the Rio de Janeiro Olympics were held today, the United States would win the most medals — and the most golds. And American swimmer Michael Phelps would collect five more gold medals and a bronze, bringing his overall total to 28 with a career gold-medal haul of 23.” So starts an Associated Press report on research by number-cruncher Simon Gleave. There’ll also be four golds for Katie Ledecky (USA) and three golds a silver for Emily Seebohm (AUS), both swimmers who would doubtless wish it was that simple



So I suppose I better buy a calculator to watch the Games on.

Craig Lord



Was told a long time ago, if you want to bet on sport, you don’t have to know a thing about the sport, you just need to have all the stats.

Craig Lord

The big money’s where the stats don’t stretch too, Robbos .. in the pool of knowledge yet to make the surface 🙂


Yes I agree Craig, he was talking about the higher profile sports where stats were abundant. Plus more about team sport I presume.


Have seen past Infostrada/Gracenote projections and took a look at this latest edition and ROFLAO’d.

They ARE an interesting and entertaining read and can be seen with some legitimacy as being reasonable “best case scenario” projections when looking at the prospects of some major nations.

But taking these as any kind of serious analysis and thats where I echo Craig’s final sentence “planning for what ?”. There is just no clear consistent methodology evident.

Does the latest available data override the last major international result ?

If the former IS in use then the prediction of C1 winning the W100free is completely defensible given AUS Trials. But then they completely ignore this with the W50free where C2 is projected winner with C1 (with the much Trials time) has to make do with bronze ?

Coutts did not even qualify in W100fly yet is still projected to win bronze in this event in Rio !

The relays …. one wonders whether these were written after returning from a lengthy Friday pub lunch ! AUS W4XMED to win silver is a very defensible call ….. except that they are projected to be beaten by the USA who missed the podium in Kazan. This may, indeed, happen in Rio but as yet, we do not have the clear evidence with regards to times to conclusively “override” Kazan IF there is some consistent methodology being employed.

All I will say is that if national sporting bodies are actually paying these guys for their analysis …….. “guys, I’ve got some shares in the Sydney Harbour Bridge if you’re interested !!”

Craig Lord

Yes, CW, I wondered about the value of such things (and what they pay for it) to governing bodies, especially given that:
1. there’s nothing here that anyone in swimming would not guess at anyway and if sports bodies could not have come up with such things themselves base on ranks and results and current form, then they ought to hand in their blazers and peaked caps
2. there’s nothing you can do about it (beyond the work of kids and coaches going on) whatever your conclusion and guess may be
3. funding is largely based on results, not predictions (and should not be based on predictions, history being stacked with the expected result and the unexpected result)


Well, in response to FurryCurmudgeon and Craig – why don’t you put all your predictions down, and see if you do better?

(And if you do, when the NOCs come calling with cash in hand, I will please take some commission :))

Craig Lord

Stabilo, predictions won’t change the result, which is what I’m interested in. False markets are not for me, thanks 🙂 And beyond that, there are very good reasons why journalists should not engage in such exercises publicly.


Neither of us are seeking to “hawk” a products with claims it is based on a “proprietary algorithm” based purely on objective data that is constantly updated ……. a claim which cannot stand even rudimentary scrutiny as stated in my previous post.


Whether it stands scrutiny as an accurate prediction will be surely found out in August, CW. (Strictly speaking, the updated predictions once trials are all concluded)

Craig – Are there? Seems like journalists love to make predictions (there have been several lists made this week with the “100 days to go” countdown).

Anyway more to the topic. For some reason I have a feeling Seebohm will have some problems in Rio. No idea why.


My issue is that it claims to have a firm methodology but this cannot be borne out by its predictions. It makes use of the most recent relevant data in some cases but then completely disregards this data for other predictions.

These are their swimming predictions for AUS.

Gold: Larkin (M100back), Larkin (M200back), McEvoy (M100free), Seebohm (W100back), Seebohm (W200back), C1 (W100free), C2 (W50free), W4X100

Silver: C2 (W100free), M4XMED, W4XMED, W4X200, Horton M400free, Groves (W200fly)

Bronze: Coutts (W100fly), M4X200, C1(W50free)

8 Gold medals is NOT out of the question; and all nominated can be seen as legitimate Gold contenders and in many cases, seen as the favourites. However, the odds on an 8/8 return would be enormous and a 5/8-6/8 would be more realistic as I’m less than confident that they will sweep the backstrokes in both genders.

The silvers look mostly fair calls apart from W200fly where Groves has yet to show she can deliver internationally. Already commented on W4XMED and choosing the W4X200 (which missed the podium in Kazan) for silver when their male equivalents DID medal in Kazan are only worth bronze ?

Bronze: C1 with the fastest time in years is only worth bronze whilst little sister is rated for gold ? Coutts doesnt even qualify for W100fly but is predicted as bronze.

Just where IS any clear methodology. This is just all over the shop.


CW – as I see it (looking at their website), they don’t give all the methodology, which is fair enough since they’re trying to sell something. So I don’t know how you can say it completely disregards data (recent swims) for some predictions?

They claim to use some methodology to make predictions. You think these predictions sound wrong. Some probably will be – no-one is going to get 100%. But, again, if you think they are all over the shop and being obtuse, why not offer your own?

You say that of those 8 golds, ‘many’ are favourite. (I would say 7/8, with the C2 possibly looking odd.) If they’re favourites, you must predict it as a gold (if you’re into that kind of thing). Sure, 8/8 is unlikely and someone will mess up, which is the nature of these things, but as it stands, you have to play the odds.

Craig Lord

Journalists who make predictions, stabilo, are rarely the ones who have to stand in a mixed zone and listen to young people saying ‘you wrote me off “; “I had to prove the naysayers wrong” and so on… instead of the 3-5 mins in a mixed zone being full of material that actually enhances the story of the athlete. Those 100-day lists are full of the obvious… like me saying I think Adam peaty will do quite well … that’s hardly a prediction, just like saying Miss Ledecky will win 4 golds – hardly the stuff that merits a budget of any kind 🙂 … and there you go, you’re written Emily off … but then you won’t have to speak to her, so it won’t matter 🙂


Stabilo, they’re free to use whatever sales “speil” they like as long as it doesn’t contain any demonstrable falsehoods.

My contention is that if there is any methodology in place; it is demonstrably NOT being applied consistently. My use of the W100free and W50free is merely to illustrate this inconsistency. WHY use one set of available results for the same swimmers in one event but completely disregards them in the other ? The Coutts situation is just complete sloppiness

You want my reads on these calls ? Given with a disclaimer that I may wish to reassess post US Trials.

– I’d probably downgrade the W200back to a minor medal.
-My bet on M100back would probably be an “each way” (win & place) rather than “on the nose”.
– C1 would carry my win bet for the W50free but I think a 2nd AUS medal in this event is unlikely.
– Whilst I’d like to see Groves medal in the W200fly, her international CV just doesn’t support it.
– W4X200 plausible but wouldn’t see my money.
– No medal in W100fly

In other words, my paw in the water would currently be 6 really strong Gold bets, 7-8 minor medals. Total 13-14 as against their 17

Felix Sanchez

I remember Olympic build up several years ago on another platform, where John Lohn demonstrated quite clearly that journalists should stay away from predictions (sorry John) Knowledgeable as he is, I think Craig is being wise to show caution.

Swim results tend towards the obvious, with the odd freak thrown in, and only a small minority where intelligent analysis could play any part.

Felix Sanchez

My computer program said Beisel would win gold. Go figure.


Craig – very good points. Still, I would be very happy to stand in the mix zone if you have a spare pass :). Yes, for some unfathomable reason not convinced by Emily.

CW – I still maintain that without knowing the methodology in full it’s hard to argue against it. Your furry paw in the water is an excellent indicator – and far better than I could do – personally I would go for double 100Back success and 2x Aus medal in W50Free (which hurts as an American!)

Fair enough Felix. (I had Beisel for the 400IM in London and then……)


Still wish I’d put that tenner on Florent in 2012 (I only had him down as my pick because I was a fan of Laure!). 50 free gets the best odds!

Bad Anon

Think Aussie women have a solid gold medal chance on the 4*100medley relay. Will obviously revise my prediction in early July after US trials; Franklin, Meili, Vollmer and Weitzel may be a formidable quartert


Yes, BA. This “algorithm” has AUS as silver in the W4XMED which is fair enough but USA as gold. My issue with that is not that it may not happen but on what methodology/data did they come to that conclusion ?

USA was off the podium in Kazan, and the best 2015 time in this relay was only 4th in the world. Going back to 2014 they were still behind AUS. As yet, we don’t have the data from which to support a case that USA is ahead of AUS or CHN.

Stabilo, there just doesnt seem to be any consistent methodology as I extended my review beyond swimming.

Re Seebohm, I can certainly understand where you’re coming from and even share it to a degree. Whilst her 2015 times are undeniably excellent, there doesn’t seem to be that feel of dominance … and she DID get rolled in the 200back.

Maybe she approached AUS Trials differently (maybe not a full taper); is the “relationship” a distraction ? Question currently without firm answers. This is her third Olympics and my instinct tells me she may mirror Liesel Jones by finally nabbing an individual gold (100back) but being beaten over 200.

The clear evidence to date is that both Campbells medalling in the W100free is a very backable scenario but the W50free has potentially more players for the medals. C1s Trials times clearly mark her as favourite but whilst C2 is reigning World champion, her times are some way off big sister. She may need significant PB drops (break 24sec) to make the podium


Most of 2012 gold medallists were actually the favorites coming into London. The only ones who were “bolters” were:
manadou, adrian, clary, le clos, france (m4x100free), ledecky, meilutyte.
So, only 7 winners (out of 32 events) were the surprise.
The young female teenagers (Missy, Shiwen, Ledecky, Meilutyte) stole the spotlight in London.
This time around, I don’t see such phenomenon. The 15-16 yo girls who are going to Rio are unfortunately swimming in the events strongly dominated by older swimmers (Oleksiak, Steenbergen, Ikee, Imai). We’ll see if USA trials will produce a 15/16 yo girls qualifiers, although at this point I can’t think any.


ASF, the percentage of real “bolters”/rank outsiders who actually get up to win is generally single figures at best.

Those who are classed as surprise/upset aren’t really outsiders per se but are rather very well credentialled performers who were probably on the 2nd/3rd tier of betting.


I remember before London saying that Ledecky hitting the podium against more seasoned competition would be an upset but that she also seemed to be on one of those girls on a mad mid-teen improvement curve and to see her big breakthrough come a little early wouldn’t be a large surprise.

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