Every four years, the Olympics catch the eye of the entire nation. Wearing red, white, and blue, we come together to cheer for athletes representing the USA. Asphalt Green knows the ins and outs of the summer Olympic sports—we offer programs for them year-round. Need a refresher? Our spectator guides will make you a gold medal fan. (Plus, you'll sound really smart at watch parties.)


Origin of the sport: Swimming dates back to the Stone Age, emerging as a competitive sport in the 1830s in England. It was added to the Olympics in 1896. Today, there are 34 medal-clinching events at the Games for both men and women.  


General Rules:

  • Swimmers compete in a 50-meter pool with 10 lanes. Eight athletes compete at a time.  
  • There are four competitive swimming strokes: freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly.
  • Individual events are of varying distances ranging from 50 meters to 10 kilometers. Medley races feature the four strokes in one event.
  • Relay teams are made up of four athletes.
  • How you medal: First, there are qualifying heats. The number of qualifying heats is determined by how many athletes are participating in a specific event. The top 16 advance to the semi-finals, with the top eight qualifying to finals, where athletes battle for gold, silver, and bronze.


US athletes to watch for:

  • Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, and he’s back—after vowing to be done with swimming in 2012—competing at his fifth Olympics.
  • Ryan Lochte, his rival for the past eight years, will be there too, hoping to take home some hardware of his own.
  • The past four years have been the Katie Ledecky show—undefeated in major competitions since London 2012—and if all goes accordingly, her winning streak will continue in Rio. She was the youngest member of the USA swim team in 2012 at age 15 and is the youngest in 2016 at age 19.
  • And then there’s Missy Franklin, who stole America’s hearts in 2012 with her bubbly personality and superhuman skills in the water. She’s back, competing in two events in Rio.
  • Asphalt Green cheered its hearts out for former AGUA swimmer Lia Neal, who is now a two-time Olympic medalist after winning silver in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay in Rio! 


When to tune in: Swimming events began Saturday, August 6 and run through Saturday, August 13. 


More Olympics Coverage: 

Spectator Guide: Soccer

Olympic Trials Through the Eyes of Two Asphalt Green Swimmers

Jason Lezak: Journey to Olympic Gold