Chances are pretty good that you probably don’t bet on swimming that often. During the Summer Olympics, though, swimming is actually a pretty good sport to bet on. The results often follow form, you can easily do a lot of research about the swimmers, and prices can be attractive. In order to maximize your success in Olympic swimming betting here are six factors for handicappers to seriously consider:
Don’t rely on reputations – There are some swimmers that are as close to household names as swimmers can be. In the eyes of the public they are ferocious competitors with a serious advantage every time they step onto the starting blocks. The problem for most casual bettors, though, is that swimmers are really only relevant in the public consciousness once every four years. A lot can change over that time, and a swimmer who was completely dominant at the last Olympics can be completely average this time around. Of course, they can also be dominant again. You can’t rely on reputations or assumptions. Instead, Olympic handicappers need to look at recent performance, odds, media expectations and so on to make sure that they are betting the swimmer in the pool now – not the swimmer he or she used to be.
Get to know the sport – A lot of people feel compelled to bet on something like Olympic swimming just because it is on. They get swept up in the excitement and look to lay down some cash to make things more interesting. There is nothing wrong with that – unless you are in the market for long term profits. The more time and effort you spend understanding the sport, the better your chances of finding an edge. What types of swimmers excel at different distances, or in different strokes? Does success in one type of event often lead to success in another type? What training or technological advancements have been made in the sport since the last Olympics that could have a big impact on how swimmers perform?
Is the event a priority for the swimmer? – Many swimmers will qualify in several different events. Unless they are a superstar like Michael Phelps, though, they likely aren’t positioned to be highly competitive in all of them. If a swimmer has had a lot of success already at the Games then it can be tempting to bet them in their next event. Before you do so, you need to understand two major factors – are they competitive at the highest levels in this particular event, and are they truly concerned about swimming their hardest in the event? Sometimes a swimmer will put forth less than full effort if he has already swum particularly hard, or if she has an event that she is really focused on later in the meet. Savvy sports bettors will factor this in.
Consider athlete workload – Even if a swimmer is fully focused on the event there is a possibility that he just won’t be able to be at his sharpest because of what he has already raced in up to this point. By the time the later events roll around, a swimmer could have been in the pool 20 or more times by the time all of their events and heats are completed. It’s almost impossible for even the most seasoned, fit athletes to stay at their sharpest through all of that. If the swimmer has a massive edge on the field then he may still be able to perform at a high level. If his edge was small, or if he needed to perform at his very best to come out on top, then his effort could be compromised and he may not be as attractive from a betting perspective as he would be if he was totally rested.
Evaluate the favorites first – There are some Olympic sports that lend themselves to stunning upsets – downhill skiing comes to mind. Swimming is typically not one of those events. The gap between the best swimmers in the world and the rest of the field is huge. Swimmers often compete so frequently that it is very uncommon for a totally unexpected swimmer to steal a medal. That doesn’t mean that the favorites win all the time, but even the surprises are typically not totally out of the blue if you look closely at them. When you are evaluating a sport like swimming, then, it makes sense to start with the favorites. Instead of wondering which swimmer is going to win from all those entered you are typically better served by looking at the favorites and determining whether they are worthy of their favoritism. Are they in form? Rested? Living up to their reputations? Offering value in their price? Likely to come through on race day? If the favorites don’t measure up then smart sports bettors can look much deeper in the field, but it typically isn’t worthwhile until then.
Who does the public like? – More appropriately, who is the public being told they like. Olympic coverage is very sensationalized, and focuses as much on storylines that will tug heart strings and excite people than who is the fastest swimmer. Those stories can be hard to escape, and they can have a big impact on how people bet and how the odds are set as a result. By understanding who the public likes smart Olympic handicappers can more easily evaluate if the extra coverage has removed the value from the swimmer you are considering.