Swimming has been an important and increasingly integral part of the Olympic Games
since the first swimming events in the 1896 Olympics
. Each successive Olympics has seen swimming extend and develop to the significant Olympic sport it is today.
The 2012 Summer Olympics, held in London, were highly successful ones for swimming with 34 events held in a wide range of races varying from the speed and drama of the 50m freestyle, to the gruelling 10km open water marathons held outside in the Serpentine Lake at Hyde Park
. The London games saw 25 world and Olympic records set in swimming, with women being particularly successful in this respect; 18 of those records were set by women swimmers. The games saw surprising success for China and France and were particularly rewarding for the United States who were on their best form ever, utterly destroying usually successful swimming nations like the United Kingdom and Australia, who had previously come a respectable second and third to America in the 2008 Beijing Olympics
France swam well in the 2012 games and finished in third place with a total of 7 medals, 4 of those being gold. After a disappointing 2008 Olympics for France in which they only secured one win (Alain Bernard in the 100m Freestyle) and finished in ninth place overall, the French could be pleasantly surprised with their third place position in 2012.
China also outdid their 2008 performance in which they had finished the Bejiing games
in seventh place with 6 medals, only 1 of which was gold. The 2012 games saw China take a convincing second place to the apparently invincible American team, with 5 gold medals and an overall medal haul of 10.
The US team were having an astounding Olympics across the board with success in all sports and a final tally of 104 medals overall, 46 of which were gold. That success was certainly reflected in their swim team with 16 of the gold medals being carried off by America. Of the 102 available swimming medals an astonishing 31 were won by first place winners America, equalling their result at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
The team success of winners America reflected some significant individual triumph, with the 2012 Olympics letting some swimmers in particular shine. Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte and Allison Schmitt each won a total of 5 medals in London. Missy Franklin
was only 17 at the time and the 2012 games were her debut onto the Olympic stage; impressively she won a medal on her first ever day competing in the Olympics , taking the bronze in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. Her victory in the 200m backstroke was the first time an American woman had won the event at the Olympics since 1972.
As successful as the other members of the American swim team undoubtedly were one man was single handedly responsible for 6 of the US medals, 4 gold and 2 silver. The 2012 Olympic games
became not just America's game, not even just a triumph for American swimming, but the story of the victory of Michael Phelps. By the end of the record breaking 2012 Olympics Michael Phelps
of the United States had set one more record, with a grand total of 22 medals, including 18 golds, over the course of 3 Olympic Games he had become the most decorated Olympian in any discipline ever.
The question of who won the Swimming at the London Summer Olympics of 2012
really has two answers. The United States swim team undoubtedly had an amazing Olympics, as did the whole US team that year in every sport, and they finished convincingly ahead of the rest of the field at the top of the medals board. A fast, efficient, and perfectly honed American swimming team swam into action and had immense success all across the board.
But who really won the swimming at the Olympics? Beyond question, that was Michael Phelps