Swimming at the Olympics: GB team, rules, full list of events

Everything you need to know about the swimming events at Tokyo 2020, from our best medal hopes to the different events taking place.

Swimming Olympics guide

Swimming is always a popular sport at the Olympics, with the thrill of the races only undermined by the traditional confusion about which lane the British swimmer is in!

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At Rio 2016, Team GB walked away with one gold medal and five silvers, and hopes are high that our swimmers could better this haul in Tokyo.

As we get ready to cheer on our Olympics 2020 hopefuls from our dry sofas, there’s plenty to know before we take the plunge.

RadioTimes.com brings you up to speed with everything you need to know about swimming at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in the summer of 2021.

When is swimming at the Olympics?

Swimming runs between Saturday 24th July until Sunday 1st August.

Medals will be won on every day of the swimming aside from the very first one, with a huge stack of medals to be picked up over the course of the competition.

Check out our guide on how to watch Olympics 2020 or see Olympics on TV today for more details, timings, and exclusive expert analysis from some of the biggest names in world sport over the coming weeks.

Sir Chris Hoy, Beth Tweddle, Rebecca Adlington, Matthew Pinsent and Dame Jess Ennis-Hill are among the stars we have to being their esteemed opinions, so don’t miss what they have to say.

Find out how you can watch the Tokyo 2020 Olympics closing ceremony.

When did swimming become an Olympic sport?

Unlike surfing and skateboarding, which make their Olympic debut this year, swimming is one of the more traditional endeavours at the Games.

It was introduced to the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens, and races took place in open water rather than in pools.

Women’s swimming was introduced to the Games in 1912.

What swimming events are there at the Olympics?

The swimming events at Tokyo 2020 will take place from Saturday 24th July to Thursday 5th August, so there will be swimming to watch almost every day.

There’s a grand total of 37 events to behold, incorporating different swimming strokes and distances, with 18 women’s events, 18 men’s events and one mixed event.

There are medals up for grabs in:

Freestyle – 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m (the most popular event, freestyle basically means front crawl to you and us)

Backstroke – 100m, 200m

Breaststroke – 100m, 200m

Butterfly – 100m, 200m

Individual medley – 200m, 400m

Relays – 4x100m free, 4x200m free, 4x100m medley (men’s, women’s, mixed)

Marathon – 10km

Do Olympic swimmers get paid?

Yes and no. It is up to individual governments and sports federations in each country to decide how much to pay athletes, with many nations offering so-called ‘medal bonuses’. There is no wage simply for taking part.

Unfortunately for British athletes, the UK government doesn’t offer any financial reward for winning gold, silver or bronze. However, UK sport does offer financial assistance before athletes arrive at the Games, with training support and stipends.

Swimming certainly isn’t the sport to get into if you want to make the big bucks (try tennis, where Wimbledon winners take home £1.7million). Of course, if you perform well at the Olympics, there will likely be opportunities to sign lucrative sponsorship deals, or appear on TV.

Who is on the Team GB Olympic swimming team?

It could be a very exciting year in the pool for Team GB, with lots of talented swimmers hoping to increase the medal tally and build on the success of 2016.

Adam Peaty became the first British man to win gold in the pool since 1988 when he competed at the Rio 2016 Games, and he will defend his title in Tokyo.

Peaty was scared of water as a child, but turned his fear into a passion, smashing 13 world records along the way. As he enters the Games, he still holds the fastest time on record for the 50m and 100m breaststroke.

Peaty leads a strong team of swimmers tipped for success, many of whom are making their Olympic debut, the youngest being 16-year old Jacob Whittle.

We also have experienced swimmers in two-time Olympic silver medalist Duncan Scott, Luke Greenbank, James Wilby and Alys Thomas.

Read more – check out our comprehensive guides to the Olympic sports: Archery | Cycling | Field Hockey | Gymnastics | Rowing | Skateboarding | Taekwondo | Water Polo

Radio Times Olympics Special issue is on sale now.

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