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A Beginner’s Guide to Swimming Betting

Everyone likes splashing around in the pool from time to time, but swimming is also a seriously competitive sport with masses of fans around the world. There are numerous swimming competitions taking place, which means plenty of opportunities for fans to place bets. In this guide, we will teach you all that you need to know to get started betting on swimming. We will cover the basics of the sports, the types of bets you can place, and give you some tips about how to improve your chances of placing successful bets.  

Swimming Basics 

Swimming is a broad term and the sport has many different styles and types of events. It is important to understand all of the different styles if you are to start betting on the sport. There are four stroke styles to be aware of, freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly stroke. 

Freestyle is a type of swimming competition in which the participants are free to use their arms and legs without any restrictions about the type of stroke. Often, freestyle is used to mean front crawl, which is a combination of a flutter kick with the arms circling forward. It is the fastest of all the strokes, which makes it hugely exciting to watch and one of the most interesting to bet on.  

The backstroke is basically an upside-down front crawl. The swimmers are not looking down into the water while swimming; rather they face the ceiling, which makes breathing much simpler. However, it also makes it harder to see where one is going. The swimmers lie on their backs and kick their legs in a flutter while making circular motions with their arms that begin at the hip, extend out of the water, and reach behind. The hand then enters the water and pulls down towards the hips while the other arm begins the circuit.  

The breaststroke is the slowest style of swimming. The swimmers’ heads stay mainly above the body and they do not rotate the torso in order to generate power. The swimmer starts in the streamline position underwater and then performs an ‘out sweep’ motion, pushing the water until the hands are even with the shoulders, perpendicular to the rest of the body. The hands then come under the chest and are extended forward while a whip kick is used to keep the swimmer moving until they return to the streamline position.  

The butterfly stroke is the most difficult of them all. The swimmers needs to come up on the chest with their heads out of the water and then swoop both arms forward in a circular rotation at the same time. While this is happening, the feet are performing dolphin kicks.  

There is a style of competition called Individual Medley; in this, the swimmer must use all four types of stroke in a single race. The first quarter is butterfly style, then backstroke, followed by breaststroke and finally freestyle or front crawl.  

There are also swimming relay races, in which a quartet of swimmers take part and each one swims a quarter of the race. The next swimmer cannot enter the water until their teammate touches the wall beneath the starting platform. A relay race will require all four swimmers to use the same stroke, or they may be medleys. In a relay medley, each swimmer will perform a specific stroke, which are executed in the same order as the individual event. 

Swimming Competitions 

While there are many swimming competitions taking place on a regular basis, some attract more betting action than others do.  

The most popular swimming event to bet on is the Summer Olympic Games. Swimming has been a part of the Olympics ever since the first modern games took place in 1896. It is one of the most watched sports in the Olympics and there are a total of 34 swimming medals up for grabs, 17 for men and 17 for women.  

The swimmers will compete across all four different styles (the freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly). Within each style, there are multiple races of different distances. For example, there are six different freestyle events, 50 metres, 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, 800 metres, and 1500 metres. There are 100 and 200-metre backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly races, as well as many relays and medleys, which see the swimmers using each of the styles within the same race.  

Another major event in the swimming calendar is the European Championship of Swimming, which takes place in even-numbered years. The championship has four separate disciplines, diving, synchronised swimming, open water swimming, and traditional swimming races. It is viewed as one of the most prestigious swimming competitions in the world, and it brings with it many betting opportunities.  

The FINA World Championships is another highlight for swimmers. It has been taking place since 1973 on odd-numbered years, so that it never interferes with the Summer Games. It is considered just as prestigious as the European Championships and is second only to the Olympic Games. Very often, those who win medals at the FINA World Championships go on to win Olympic medals.  

Swimming has long been dominated by the United States and Australia. To celebrate this, in 2003 a competition called Duel in the Pool was created. It features the best swimmers from both countries competing in a number of events. However, the first three times it was held, the US easily won, so the competition was expanded to include all of Europe as well. This has made it a far more interesting competition and it attracts some of the sport’s biggest names.  

Betting on Swimming 

Unlike many sports, swimming does not offer a huge number of complicated betting markets. The markets are quite simple and will take you very little time to understand. Here is an explanation of them.  


This is the most basic bet that you can place and also the most popular. It is a bet on which swimmer will win a given race. Simply pick a swimmer and if they win, then you will win your bet.  

Fastest Time/Fastest Lap 

This type of bet is usually found in races such as relays. It is a bet on which of the swimmers will complete the fastest lap of the pool. In the case of medley relays, there may be further options, such as which will be the fastest within each of the different stroke styles.  

To Place 

This is a bet on a swimmer to finish in one of the places. Normally it will be to finish in the top three. It is a way of backing a swimmer who you think will do well but may not win.  

Match Ups 

Occasionally you may find betting markets that pair two swimmers from a race together and you then just have to choose which one will do better. It doesn’t matter what positions the swimmers finish in, they may be the bottom two, but as long as your chosen swimmer does better, then you will win the bet.  

Proposition Bets 

At major events, such as the Olympics, you may find a number of proposition bets. These are very varied and are always worth looking at. For instance, you may be able to bet on which nationality will win a medal, which country will win the most medals, or how many medals a swimmer will win throughout the competition.  

What to Consider When Betting on Swimming 

As with any sport, the key to placing winning bets is to do careful research beforehand. Here we will cover the areas your research should focus on and mistakes that you should avoid.  

The first thing you need to research is the swimmers’ specialities. You should look at the events in which they specialise as well as their strokes. For example, while a swimmer may enter a number of different lengths of race, they may specialise in one of them, so it is important that you know where their strengths and weaknesses lie. 

However, there have been studies that found that swimmers usually specialises in strokes rather than distances. This means that if a swimmer is entering numerous events across multiple strokes, you should be looking at which ones they are likely to perform best in based upon the stroke and not just the distance.  

It is always worth looking at the world rankings when researching a swimmer. History shows that going into a major competition, such as the Olympics, the swimmers who are ranked in the top ten will normally win the medals. However, ahead of a major event, it is also important that you look at the smaller events leading up to it. This can give you a good sense of a swimmer’s form, and if they have been gradually improving as a major event approaches, then it is a good indicator that they may be in medal winning form.  

Hopefully, by using these tips, studying all of the available data and following the sport closely, you will soon be placing many winning bets on swimming.  

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