Lies That Figure: Swimnews Strikes Again

By David

While it’s true that British competitors from England, Scotland, and Wales did very well at last year’s Commonwealth Games, I have to take issue with their combined medal tallies being compared to that of Australia, as is being done at Swimnews right now. Reporting the “unretirement” of Britain’s Mark Foster, Swimnews’ Craig Lord states:

“He announced his retirement on the eve of a Commonwealth Games at which he failed to make a final, a Games at which he also predicted that British home nation swimmers would be drowned by Australia. In fact, British swimmers put in what was by far their best performance, falling just one shy gold of Australia’s gold tally and defeating the male Dolphins hands-down.”

Here is the record of swimming medals from the Melbourne Commonwealth Games as reported on their official website.

Country Men Women Combined
Gold Silver Bronze Gold Silver Bronze Gold Silver Bronze
Australia 3 6 8 16 12 9 19 18 17
England 7 5 1 1 6 3 8 11 4
Scotland 4 2 2 2 1 1 6 3 3
Wales 1 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 2

Lord’s comparison of the combined score of the three UK teams with Australia is rather cheeky. After all, three teams can enter three times the number of competitors; in this case potentially nine swimmers per event compared to Australia’s three. Combining the scores like this has all the validity of saying Pine Crest did not win the recent Florida Invitational Swim Meet because Dynamo, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale combined scored more points.

Lord says the British home nations fell “just one shy gold of Australia’s gold tally”. I think he means just one gold shy of Australia’s tally, or at least I’ve never heard of a shy gold medal.

Even if we go along with Lord and combine the gold medals, my reading of the table says Australia won 18 gold medals and the UK nations of England, Scotland and Wales combined won 15 and that’s three “shy” gold medals short. There seems to be a problem with Lord’s math.

Lord is right about the male gold medal score. The UK total of 12 gold medals is well ahead of Australia’s three. Even England on its own won seven gold medals compared to Australia’s disappointing three.

However, it is interesting to note that if one allocates a normal nine, seven and six points to first, second and third places Australia would beat England 117 to 104. So perhaps even the male result is not quite as “hands down” as Lord would have us believe.

Am I imagining it or does Craig Lord just make stuff up? In our opinion, his site ranks well behind Swimming World Magazine and Timed Finals for accuracy, content and interest. Lord’s is a “legacy website”, popular and highly visible because of its age. The domain was registered on August 7, 1995. Online, age is a huge benefit. Search engines include a website’s age in their assessment of its authority and trustworthiness. That Swimnews is only seven months younger than Yahoo undoubtedly allows Lord to get away with many of his inaccuracies and blunders.

PS: Special thanks to Rae Hoffman for the “legacy” label.