Swimming is indissolubly related to the Summer Olympics in the contemporary form they are known on a global scale. Since the first modern Olympics in 1896, inspired by the vision of the French educator and historian Pierre de Coubertin, it is one of the most popular spectator sports, by having the second largest number of events after Athletics at the Games. The interest is reasonably justified because swimming records come one after another in each event.
This research focuses on the swimming times of the Olympic finals, which lead to the obtainment of the gold medal for both men and women. It is essential for the researcher to take into account all the data that are revolved around the gold medals exclusively, as the main objective of the research is to predict the range of time a swimmer will have to perform in order to win the first place in the Olympic Games of 2020, in Tokyo, in 11 different swimming styles. The researcher will try to answer the question: Will the gold medals in the Olympic Games of Tokyo be combined with Olympic or world records? The results of the analysis that will take place, will estimate scientifically in which cases the world record is more possible to be broken.
TIMES IN PREVIOUS COMPETITIONS AND LIMIRATIONS
The data which will be presented by the research analyst originate from the Olympic Games of Los Angeles, in 1984, until those of Rio de Janeiro, in 2016. The times included pertain to the gold medal performances in each one of the 9 completions for the swimming styles below:
- 100, 200, 400 meters Freestyle (Men, Women)
- 800 meters Freestyle (Women)
- 1500 meters Freestyle (Men)
- 100, 200 meters Backstroke (Men, Women)
- 100, 200 meters Breaststroke (Men, Women)
- 100, 200 meters Butterfly (Men, Women)
Swimming styles such as 200, 400 meters individual medley, 4×100, 4×200 meters freestyle relay, 4×100 meters medley relay or 10 kilometers open water will not be included in this research. All the aforementioned do not provide the researcher the stability required, as the swimming style, the athletes or both of them are subject to intense changes. For example, in individual medley, the athletes might be more charismatic in a certain swimming style, a fact that make their overall performance unbalanced. Same for 4×100 or 4×200 meters, due to the better or worse performance of one of the four members of the team. For the 10 kilometers open water, unpredictable factors such as the windy weather or the quality of the sea would make the results of the research uncertain.
THE FORECASTING MODEL
Forecasting is the process of making predictions of the future based on past and present data and most commonly by analysis of trends. In certain cases, it is reserved for estimates of values at certain specific future times, like the number of times floods that will occur over a long period. The data used must be up to date so as for the forecast to be as accurate as possible. By using the Forecasting Model, the range between the Lower and the Upper Bound of the time required for the obtainment of the gold medal, in 2020, can be predicted. In other words, the times of the gold medal winners can be delineated. The confidence level that will be used is 95%.
100 AND 200 METERS FREESTYLE
Swimming was one of the first sports of the modern Summer Olympics. More precisely, 100 meters freestyle for men was the first swimming style ever participated in Olympic Games (Athens, 1896). It was also the first swimming style for women, at the fourth female participation (Stockholm, 1912).
The times of the gold medal winners, since the Los Angeles Olympics, for the 100 meters freestyle are shown in the line graph above. According to the forecasting technique, the time of the winner of Tokyo is 47.01 for men, with a Lower Bound of 46.22 and an Upper Bound of 47.80. Considering that the Olympic record is 47.05 and the world record is 46.91, it seems possible for, at least, one of the two records to be broken. For women, a significant decrease is predicted, as the time of the winner is 52.25, with a Lower Bound of 51.72 and an Upper Bound of 52.78, while the Olympic record is 52.70 and the world record is 51.71. In this case, it seems possible the OR to be broken and, on the top of that, the WR can be threatened.
Concerning 200 meters freestyle, it was introduced to the Games for two consecutive competitions only for men (1900, 1904), but it took 64 years to be consolidated (1968), when both men and women could participate.
The graph shows a significant drop in men’s time, in comparison with the previous competition. The approximate time of the winner is 01:42.38, with a Lower Bound of 01:40.51 and an Upper Bound of 01:44.24, while the OR is 01:42.96 and the WR is 01:42.00. A slight decrease of time is estimated for women (01:53.19), with a Lower Bound of 01:51.09 and an Upper Bound 01:55.29, while the OR is 01:53.61 and the WR is 01:52.98.
400 METERS FREESTYLE
The swimming style of 400 meters appeared in the Olympic Games of St. Louis (United States, 1904). This swimming competition was the only one in Olympic history that racing distances were measured in yards, so the actual distance was 402 meters in the first completion. Women had to wait for 16 years (1920) to participate in a 400 meters race.
For 400 meters freestyle, a slight increase is predicted at the men’s time (03:41.88), with a Lower Bound of 03:38.75 and an Upper Bound of 03:45.01. At this point, it is worth to mention that the odds of reaching the Olympic (03:40.14) and the world record (03:40.07) are not on the side of athletes. On the other hand, women are expected to decrease their time, as the analysis results show that the time of the winner is 03:55.87, with a Lower Bound of 03:51.59 and an Upper Bound of 04:00.16. The interesting part is that average time is already lower than the OR and WR (3:56.46), which means that the odds are in favor of the athletes for breaking the record.
1500 METERS (MEN) – 800 METERS (WOMEN) FREESTYLE
The swimming style of 1500 meters freestyle of men also appeared in the Olympic Games of St. Louis (United States, 1904) and the actual distance in that competition was 1609 meters. It is one of the most unpredictable swimming races in pool, as the distance makes the efforts of the athletes ever more difficult.
The time for 1500 meters winner is estimated at 14:29.04, with a Lower Bound of 14:18.55 and an Upper Bound of 14:39.52. The OR and WR of this swimming style is 14:31.02, from the Olympic Games of London (2012).
On the contrary, the swimming style of 800 meters freestyle of women appeared 50 years ago, in the Summer Olympics of Mexico City, in 1968. It is the longest distance race in pool for women and the data below illustrate an expected volatility per competition.
According the analysis, the predicted time of the winner at 800 meters freestyle is 8:08.45, with a Lower Bound of 7:58.66 and an Upper Bound of 8:18.25. Assuming that the Olympic and world record of this swimming style is 08:04.79, the breaking of this record is thought to be very difficult achievement, at least in the forthcoming Olympic Games of 2020.
100 AND 200 METERS BACKSTROKE
Backstroke swimming style was first introduced in the Olympic Games of St. Louis (United States, 1904) with the 100 meters race, the actual distance of which was 91.4 meters. Women’s first ever participation to 100 meters Backstroke is dated in the Olympic Games of Paris, back in 1924.
Τhe line graph above indicates the fans of swimming to have extremely high expectations for both men and women. The approximate time of the men’s winner is 51.55, with a Lower Bound of 50.69 and an Upper Bound of 52.40, while OR and WR is 51.85. Consequently, a similar situation applies to women as well as the estimated time of the winner is 57.84, with a Lower Bound of 56.71 and an Upper Bound of 58.97, while the Olympic record is 58.23 and the world record is 58.10. In both cases, if the world record is broken nobody has to be surprised at all.
In the matter of 200 meters Backstroke, the first race for men took place in the Olympic Games of Tokyo (1964) and, for women, in those of Mexico City (1968).
In the line graph above, it is shown that the time of men’s winner is 01:51.69, with a Lower Bound of 01:50.54 and an Upper Bound of 01:52.85. The Olympic record looks like an easy task (1:53.41), when the world record is also endangered (1:51.92). As for women, the time of the winner is 02:04.23, with a Lower Bound of 02:00.70 and an Upper Bound of 02:07.76. The Olympic and world record is 2:04.06, which means that if an athlete perform better than the estimated average time, she would have considerable chances to surpass this record.
100 AND 200 METERS BREASTSTROKE
Regarding Breaststroke, its first appearance in Summer Olympics was in London (1908). The interesting part around Breaststroke is that the first ever race was in 200 meters, due to the nature of the style with less exhausting moves and more breaths for the athletes. The first women race was in 200 meters too, in Paris (1924). The 100 meter race appeared in Mexico City (1968) for both sexes.
As it is perceived, the time of the gold medal winners has a downward trend for men and women, respectively. The time for men is estimated to be 56.74, with a Lower Bound of 55.80 and an Upper Bound of 57.69, while the OR and WR has set to 57.13 from the Games of Rio de Janeiro (2016). In respect of women, the time reaches at 01:04.21, with a Lower Bound of 01:03.10 and an Upper Bound of 01:55.31.The OR seems a reasonable target to aim for (1:04.93) and same goes for the WR (1:04.13)
When it comes to the 200 meters Breaststroke, the results are even more interesting. The approximate time for men is 02:05.80, with a Lower Bound of 02:03.90 and an Upper Bound of 02:07.69. The corresponding records are 2:07.22 (OR) and 2:06.67 (WR), which provide a certain enthusiasm to the fans, because the possibilities of being surpassed are high enough. Subsequently, the possibilities for the breaking of the record are even higher in women. The OR (2:19.59) and the WR (2:19.11) are not considered an impossible feat, as the forecasting technique testifies. The predicted time is 02:17.87, with a Lower Bound of 02:15.62 and an Upper Bound of 02:20.12.
100 AND 200 METERS BUTTERFLY
The last, but not least, part of this research consists of the Butterfly style. The first ever race was in 200 meters in the Olympic Games of Melbourne (1956). Contrariwise, in 100 meters was the first women race at the same competition. The 100 meters for men and the 200 meters for women were officially introduced in Mexico (1968).
Having analyzed the data through the forecasting technique, the estimated time for men in Tokyo is 50.00, with a Lower Bound of 49.15 and an Upper Bound of 50.84. The OR, from the previous competition in Brazil, can possibly be broken (50.39) but the WR (49.82) will need an outstanding performance for being surpassed. On the women’s side, the predicted time is 55.05, with a Lower Bound of 53.87 and an Upper Bound of 56.24, while the OR and WR is 55.48.
In this last line graph, the prediction for the times of the 200 meters Butterfly is reflected. In both men and women’s lines as significant decrease is observed. For men, the time of the winner is expected to be 01:51.66, with a Lower Bound of 01:50.04 and an Upper Bound of 01:53.29. Given that the OR is 1:52.03 and the WR is 1:51.51, another record breaking has to be anticipated. For women, the time of the Olympic winner is expected to be 02:03.91, with a Lower Bound of 02:01.30 and an Upper Bound of 02:06.52. Having in mind that the OR is 2:04.06 and the WR is 2:01.81, the talk around another possible record may begin.
The forecasting method is a useful tool for someone who wants to make safe predictions based on historic data. It helped the researcher to make a 95% accurate prediction for the range of the times which the swimmers need to achieve in order to become Olympic winners in 11 different swimming style races. Namely, the data demonstrate that, in men’s category, the OR can be surpassed in 9 out of 10 cases and the WR 5 out of 10. Likewise, in women’s category the OR can be surpassed in 8 out of 10 cases and the WR 4 out of 10. The conclusion of this research is that the spectators at the Summer Olympics of Tokyo can expect many records to be broken in the pool.
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