Olivia Smoliga Caps Short Course Worlds With Record 8 Golds; Dahlia 9 Total Medals

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Andy Ross.

American swimmer Olivia Smoliga won eight gold medals at the 2018 FINA World Short Course Championships in Hangzhou, China this week, the most of any American woman all-time at a single short course championships. 24-year-old Kelsi Dahlia won seven gold medals this week, and won a silver and a bronze, to give her nine total.

Smoliga, 24, won golds in the 50 and 100 backstroke, and swam on six winning relays for Team USA. She was on the two sprint free relays, the two sprint medley relays, and the two mixed relays, swimming on the prelims relay in the 4×50 free and the mixed free.

Dahlia won gold in the 100 fly, the sprint free relays, the medley relays, and the two mixed relays, while also adding a silver in the 200 fly and a bronze in the 50 fly.

Fellow American Mallory Comerford also won eight medals at the meet as she won five golds, two silvers and a bronze. She won golds in the mixed free relay, the sprint free relays, and the two medley relays. She won silvers in the 200 free and 4×200 free relay, and a bronze in the 100 free.

Smoliga sits only behind Katinka Hosszu and Dahlia in total medals at a single championships. Hosszu won nine total medals in 2016, for the most in a single World Short Course Championships. But Smoliga now has the records for most gold medals in a single World Championships by a man or a woman.

Smoliga’s feat will come with a little bit of an asterisk since four of the events she won gold in did not exist at the meet before 2014. But even when you take away those four extra events, Smoliga’s week in Hangzhou still deserves some praise.

When looking at the all-time medal hauls at the World Short Course Championships, Hosszu’s 2016 campaign is at the top of the list. The Hungarian “Iron Lady” won golds in the 100 and 200 back, 100 and 200 fly, and all three IM’s. She also won a silver in the 200 free and a silver in the 50 back, giving her nine total medals.

Behind Hosszu is American Dahlia (again), née Worrell, who won seven total medals at the 2016 Worlds in Windsor. Dahlia took advantage of the added relays as she won three silver medals in all three butterfly events, and won four golds in relays, swimming on both medley relays, the 4×100 free, and the mixed medley two years ago.

Behind Dahlia is Australia’s Brooke Hanson, who won six total gold medals at the 2004 Championships in Indianapolis. The meet was set a couple months after the Athens Olympics, and Hanson won gold medals in all three breaststrokes, the 100 and 200 IM, and swam breaststroke on Australia’s winning 4×100 medley relay team.

After Hanson is fellow Aussie Libby Lenton, who won six medals on two separate occasions. She won two of each color at the same 2004 Championships, and then returned to the meet in 2006 in Shanghai, where she won five golds and one silver.

The mixed relays and 4×50 relays were not added to the World Short Course Championships until 2014, so when comparing medal counts, these arguments can be skewed, since even the 50 stroke events were not added to the lineup until 2002. But if you take away Smoliga’s medals in the mixed relays and the 4×50’s, she still has four gold medals and she did not lose a single race.

This is still something worth noting since Smoliga will join the likes of Hanson, Le JingyiMireia BelmonteMarleen VeldhuisTherese AlshammarMasami Tanaka and Kaitlin Sandeno as female swimmers that won at least four gold medals in a single World Short Course Championships and no minor medals.

Swimming historians may grumble at the amount of extra events that Smoliga competed in at these World Championships, but the fact of the matter is that these events are here and they count for medals. So why should her accomplishments be asterisked if this is the reality?

Smoliga proved her versatility this week in China by swimming race after race with consistency. She set two American Records individually in the sprint backstroke events, and added American Records in the mixed medley relay and the 4×50 medley relay.

Sure, one can scoff at short course meters, and the fact a lot of big names were missing at the meet. But Smoliga had her hands full with the competition on hand. She did take down Olympic Champion Hosszu, long course World Record holder Kathleen Baker, and veteran Emily Seebohm in the 100 back. The only big name that was missing from the final was 2017 World Champion Kylie Masse of Canada, but Smoliga took down enough big names already that her gold medal should be validated.

Smoliga’s undefeated run this week has been unprecedented, so it should be applauded as such.

Most Medals Won at a Single Short Course Worlds (Women)

Americans highlighted in red

  • 9- Katinka Hosszu, HUN, 2016 (7G, 2S)
  • 9- Kelsi Dahlia, USA, 2018 (7G, 1S, 1B)
  • 8- Olivia Smoliga, USA, 2018 (8G)
  • 8- Mallory Comerford, USA, 2018 (5G, 2S, 1B)
  • 8- Katinka Hosszu, HUN, 2014 (4G, 3S, 1B)
  • 8- Ranomi Kromowidjojo, NED, 2018 (3G, 4S, 1B)
  • 8- Femke Heemskerk, NED, 2018 (6S, 2B)
  • 7- Kelsi Worrell, USA, 2016 (4G, 3S)
  • 6- Brooke Hanson, AUS, 2004 (6G)
  • 6- Libby Lenton, AUS, 2006 (5G, 1S)
  • 6- Libby Lenton, AUS, 2004 (2G, 2S, 2B)
  • 5- Le Jingyi, CHN, 1993 (5G)
  • 5- Dai Guohong, CHN, 1993 (4G, 1S)
  • 5- Lilly King, USA, 2016 (4G, 1S)
  • 5- Katinka Hosszu, HUN, 2018 (4G, 1S)
  • 5- Kirsty Coventry, ZIM, 2008 (4G, 1B)
  • 5- Femke Heemskerk, NED, 2014 (4G, 1B)
  • 5- Ranomi Kromowidjojo, NED, 2014 (4G, 1B)
  • 5- Jenny Thompson, USA, 2000 (2G, 2S, 1B)
  • 5- Katinka Hosszu, HUN, 2012 (2G, 2S, 1B)
  • 5- Jeanette Ottesen, DEN, 2014 (2G, 1S, 2B)
  • 5- Petria Thomas, AUS, 2002 (1G, 3S, 1B)
  • 5- Ranomi Kromowidjojo, NED, 2016 (1G, 3S, 1B)
  • 5- Angel Martino, USA, 1993 (1G, 2S, 2B)
  • 5- Josefin Lillhage, SWE, 2004 (1G, 2S 2B)
  • 5- Emily Seebohm, AUS, 2014 (3S, 1B)
  • 5- Misty Hyman, USA, 1997 (2S, 3B)
  • 4- Mireia Belmonte, ESP, 2014 (4G)
  • 4- Marleen Veldhuis, NED, 2008 (4G)
  • 4- Therese Alshammar, SWE, 2002 (4G)
  • 4- Therese Alshammar, SWE, 2000 (4G)
  • 4- Masami Tanaka, JPN, 1999 (4G)
  • 4- Kaitlin Sandeno, USA, 2004 (4G)
  • 4- Rebecca Soni, USA, 2010 (3G, 1S)
  • 4- Sarah Sjostrom, SWE, 2014 (3G, 1S)
  • 4- Jenny Thompson, USA, 1999 (3G, 1S)
  • 4- Mai Nakamura, JPN, 1999 (3G, 1S)
  • 4- Emma Igelstrom, SWE, 2002 (3G, 1S)
  • 4- Mireia Belmonte, ESP, 2010 (3G, 1S)
  • 4- Mallory Comerford, USA, 2016 (3G, 1S)
  • 4- Anna-Karin Kammerling, SWE, 2002 (3G, 1B)
  • 4- Jessicah Schipper, AUS, 2006 (3G, 1B)
  • 4- Inge Dekker, NED, 2014 (3G, 1B)
  • 4- Jenny Thompson, USA, 1997 (2G, 2S)
  • 4- Lindsay Benko, USA, 2002 (2G, 2S)
  • 4- Felicity Galvez, AUS, 2008 (2G, 2S)
  • 4- Jenny Thompson, USA, 2004 (2G, 1S, 1B)
  • 4- Kylie Palmer, AUS, 2008 (2G, 1S, 1B)
  • 4- Olivia Smoliga, USA, 2012 (2G, 1S, 1B)
  • 4- Megan Romano, USA, 2012 (2G, 1S, 1B)
  • 4- Penny Oleksiak, CAN, 2016 (2G, 1S, 1B)
  • 4- Taylor Ruck, CAN, 2016 (2G, 1S, 1B)
  • 4- Le Jingyi, CHN, 1997 (2G, 2B)
  • 4- Natalie Coughlin, USA, 2014 (1G, 3S)
  • 4- Martina Moravcova, SVK, 2000 (1G, 2S, 1B)
  • 4- Natalie Coughlin, USA, 2010 (1G, 2S, 1B)
  • 4- Sandra Volker, GER, 2000 (1G, 3S)
  • 4- Tayliah Zimmer, AUS, 2006 (1G, 3S)
  • 4- Fran Halsall, GBR, 2008 (1S, 3B)

7 comments

  1. avatar
    Colleen O.

    Mallory Comerford won 5g, 2s and 1b at the meet as well for a total of 8 medals.

    • avatar
      Andy Ross

      Wow you are correct. I cannot believe I missed that one. Thank you! Truly incredible how well the women did this week in Hangzhou.

  2. avatar
    Hmm....

    Smogs is the bomb