Host City: London, Great Britain
Date Started: July 28, 2012
Date Finished: August 4, 2012
Participants: 931 (481 men and 450 women) from 167 countries
Youngest Participant: Adzo Kpossi (13 years, 191 days)
Oldest Participant: Lars Frölander (38 years, 69 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Michael Phelps (6 medals)
Most Medals (Country): United States (31 medals)
Swimming was held at the newly constructed Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park, although the open water swims were held in at The Serpentine, the eastern part of a lake in Hyde Park. The sport was again highlighted by the presence of Michael Phelps, who had won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, and came to London having won 16 medals in all. He was not quite as dominant in London, winning six medals, and four gold medals, but this brought his overall totals to 22 medals and 14 golds, both all-time Olympic records. There was no change to the swimming program since the 2008 Olympics, with men and women both contesting 17 events, 16 in the pool and the open-water swim.
The United States was the dominant nation, winning 16 of 34 gold medals, and 31 medals in all. Phelps won the most medals by any swimmer, while on the women’s side, Americans Missy Franklin and Allison Schmitt won five medals, with Franklin winning four golds and Schmitt three. In the men’s open-water swim Tunisia’s [Ousmane Mellouli] won the gold medal. He also won a bronze medal in the pool in the 1,500 freestyle, an event he had won in 2008, making him the first swimmer to win gold medals both in the pool and open-water events.
Multiple world records were set in London swimming, which reversed the trend of the last few years. Beijing had seen the world record list assaulted as swimmers used skinsuits made from new fabrics and which greatly decreased drag in the water. These were banned after the 2008 Olympics and with the return to what are termed textile suits, world records had been dearly sought since 2008. But the level of competition and the hyper-fast London pool contributed to numerous changes in the world lists.