Famous 20th Century Swimmers

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 1 
Katinka Hosszu
(Hungarian Swimmer)
Katinka Hosszu
10
Birthdate: May 3, 1989
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pécs, Hungary
Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
 2 
Dara Torres
(Swimmer, Model)
Dara Torres
12
Birthdate: April 15, 1967
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beverly Hills

Dara Torres is an American retired competitive swimmer. A 12-time Olympic medalist, Torres won four gold medals in three different Olympic Games. In 2008, she became the first swimmer to compete in five Olympic Games, representing the United States. At the age of 41, Dara Torres was also the oldest swimmer to be a part of the U.S. Olympic team. 

 3 
Rowdy Gaines
(American Former Competitive Swimmer and Three-Time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Rowdy Gaines
4
Birthdate: February 17, 1959
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Winter Haven, Florida, United States

Rowdy Gaines is an American swimming analyst for NBC and retired competitive swimmer. Gaines won three gold medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics. He also won five gold medals at the FINA World Championships before becoming an analyst; he has covered swimming events at the Olympics since 1992. Rowdy Gaines is a member of the US Olympic Hall of Fame.

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 4 
Dawn Fraser
(Australian Freestyle Champion Swimmer and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Dawn Fraser
16
Birthdate: September 4, 1937
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Balmain, Australia

Dawn Fraser is an Australian freestyle champion swimmer. She won the Olympic individual event the women's 100-meter freestyle three times in her career. She also won six Commonwealth Games gold medals. Much respected for her athletic abilities, she was also known for her controversial behavior. She became a swimming coach after her retirement. She is also a former politician.

 5 
Shane Gould
(Australian Former Competition Swimmer and Three-Time Olympic Gold Medal Winner)
Shane Gould
9
Birthdate: November 23, 1956
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Shane Gould was 15 when she participated in the Munich Olympics. She stunned everyone with her early retirement at 16 and stayed away from the limelight for 25 years, eventually re-emerging after raising her four kids on an Australian farm and then breaking records at the 2000 Sydney Games.

 6 
Janet Evans
(American Former Competitive Swimmer and Four-Time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Janet Evans
5
Birthdate: August 28, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fullerton, California, United States

Janet Evans is an American retired competitive swimmer who won three gold medals at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. A former world record-holder, Evans went on to win another gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The winner of the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award, Evans was adjudged Female World Swimmer of the Year in 1987, 1989, and 1990.

 7 
Mark Spitz
(American Former Competitive Swimmer and Nine-Time Olympic Champion)
Mark Spitz
4
Birthdate: February 10, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Modesto, California, United States

Best known for winning 7 gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Mark Spitz has been one of the most successful swimmers of all time. After retiring at then tender age of 22, he tried his luck I the entertainment world, appearing on shows such as Emergency!

 8 
Amanda Beard
(American Swimmer and Seven-Time Olympic Medalist)
Amanda Beard
5
Birthdate: October 29, 1981
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Newport Beach, California, United States

At 14, Amanda Beard was still in high school when she walked away with 2 Olympic silver medals and a relay gold, becoming the second-youngest swimmer to win an Olympic medal. The 7-time Olympic medalist later also modeled for Playboy and co-authored a New York Times bestseller.

 9 
Jenny Thompson
(American Former Competition Swimmer and Anesthesiologist)
Jenny Thompson
9
Birthdate: February 26, 1973
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Danvers, Massachusetts, United States

Known for winning more Olympic medals than any other female in the swimming category, Jenny Thompson had started swimming at age 7. She grew up to win swimming medals for Stanford University. She is also a qualified doctor and has practiced as an anaesthesiologist and surgeon.

 10 
Matt Biondi
(American Former Competition Swimmer and 11-Time Olympic Medalist)
Matt Biondi
5
Birthdate: October 8, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moraga, California, United States

Initially interested in both swimming and water polo, Matt Biondi participated in his first swimming race at age 5. One of the greatest swimmers of all time, he has won 11 Olympic medals, of which 8 are gold medals. Post-retirement, he teaches math and works as a swimming coach in Hawaii.  

 11 
Sun Yang
(Swimmer)
Sun Yang
8
Birthdate: December 1, 1991
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hangzhou

Sun Yang is a Chinese competitive swimmer best known for winning three Olympic gold medals. Sun has also won 11 FINA World Championships and nine gold medals at Asian Games. Sun is the first man in the history of competitive swimming to win the World Championship and Olympic gold medals at every single freestyle distance between 200 and 1500 meters.

 12 
Amy Van Dyken
(American Former Competitive Swimmer and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Amy Van Dyken
0
Birthdate: February 15, 1973
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Englewood, Colorado

Amy Van Dyken is an American radio presenter and retired competitive swimmer. Van Dyken was the most successful sportsperson at the 1996 Olympics where she won four gold medals. In 1995 and 1996, she was named American Swimmer of the Year. Amy Van Dyken went on to win two more gold medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

 13 
Alexander Popov
(Swimmer)
Alexander Popov
5
Birthdate: November 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lesnoy, Russia
Height: 6'6" (198 cm)
 14 
Jason Lezak
(American Former Competitive Swimmer and Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Jason Lezak
3
Birthdate: November 12, 1975
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Irvine, California, United States

Apart from winning 8 Olympic medals, of which 4 were gold medals, Jason Lezak also showed a keen interest in other sports such as basketball, water polo, and soccer, in his initial days. Post-retirement, he and his wife, fellow Olympian Danielle DeAlva began coaching children. He is also a motivational speaker.

 15 
Inge de Bruijn
(Former Dutch Competitive Swimmer and Four-Time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Inge de Bruijn
5
Birthdate: August 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Barendrecht, Netherlands
Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
 16 
Johnny Weissmuller
(Olympic Swimmer and Actor Who Played Tarzan)
Johnny Weissmuller
6
Birthdate: June 2, 1904
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Freidorf, Romania
Died: January 20, 1984

Johnny Weissmuller was an American swimmer and actor. Although Weissmuller won five Olympic gold medals and set several world records during his illustrious swimming career, he is best remembered for his portrayal of the title role in the 1932 action-adventure film Tarzan the Ape Man. In 1965, he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

 17 
Duke Kahanamoku
(Hawaiian Competition Swimmer Who Popularized the Sport of Surfing)
Duke Kahanamoku
9
Birthdate: August 24, 1890
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Haleʻākala, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Died: January 22, 1968

Duke Kahanamoku was an American competitive swimmer and surfer. He is credited with popularizing the ancient Hawaiian surfing. As a swimmer, Kahanamoku won three gold medals in two different Olympics. Kahanamoku was inducted into both the Surfing Hall of Fame and International Swimming Hall of Fame. He has been also inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame.

 18 
Matt Grevers
(American Competition Swimmer and Six-Time Olympic Medalist)
Matt Grevers
3
Birthdate: March 26, 1985
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lake Forest, Illinois, United States

Backstroke and freestyle specialist Matt Grevers has won numerous medals in his kitty, including 4 Olympic gold medals. He also made headlines when a video of him proposing to his girlfriend, fellow national swimming team member Annie Chandler, at the 2012 Missouri Grand Prix, went viral.

 19 
Kieren Perkins
(Legendary Australian Swimmer, Olympic Gold Medalist, and Sports Administrator)
Kieren Perkins
3
Birthdate: August 14, 1973
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

One of Australia’s best-known distance swimmers, Kieren Perkins is also known to fans as the Superfish. Apart from breaking 11 world records, he also became the first person to simultaneously hold the World, Olympic, Commonwealth, and Pan Pacific titles. The 2-time Olympic gold medalist later became the CEO of the Australian Sports Commission.

 20 
Krisztina Egerszegi
(Hungarian Former Swimmer and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Krisztina Egerszegi
5
Birthdate: August 16, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
 21 
Shavarsh Karapetyan
(Armenian Former Finswimmer and 10-Time World Record Breaker)
Shavarsh Karapetyan
4
Birthdate: May 19, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vanadzor, Armenia

Shavarsh Karapetyan is an Armenian former finswimmer. A ten-time world record-breaker, Karapetyan became famous after the 1976 trolleybus incident in Yerevan, where he saved the lives of 20 people. The incident was published in an article titled The Underwater Battle of the Champion in 1982, making Shavarsh Karapetyan a household name in the USSR.

 22 
Ragnheiður Ragnarsdóttir
(An Olympian Swimmer Who Later Became an Actor and Starred in Vikings)
Ragnheiður Ragnarsdóttir
6
Birthdate: October 24, 1984
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Reykjavík, Iceland

Ragnheiður Ragnarsdóttir, or Ragga Ragnars, was 19 when she became Iceland’s youngest swimmer at the Olympics. After making multiple national records in freestyle, she retired and started studying acting. She later gained fame as Gunnhild, an Icelandic Saga figure, in the popular historical drama TV series Vikings.

 23 
Summer Sanders
(American Sports Commentator, Reporter, Former Competition Swimmer and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Summer Sanders
4
Birthdate: October 13, 1972
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Roseville, California, United States

Summer Sanders is an American television personality, reporter, sports commentator, actress, and former competitive swimmer. Sanders won two gold medals at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. She then established herself as a sports commentator, covering swimming events for NBC in several Olympic Games.

 24 
Michael Klim
(Polish-born Australian Competitive Swimmer)
Michael Klim
1
Birthdate: August 13, 1977
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Gdynia Gdynia, Poland

Michael Klim is a Polish-born Australian competitive swimmer and former world record holder. He is best known for winning two gold medals at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Michael Klim has also won seven gold medals in the long course and five gold medals in the short course so far in the World Championships. 

 25 
Diana Nyad
(American Motivational Speaker and Long-Distance Swimmer)
Diana Nyad
6
Birthdate: August 22, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

Diana Nyad is an American journalist, author, long-distance swimmer, and motivational speaker. She achieved national recognition when she swam around Manhattan in 1975. Nyad made headlines again in 1979 when she swam from Bimini to Juno Beach. In 1986, Diana Nyad was inducted into of the US National Women's Sports Hall of Fame.

 26 
Murray Rose
(Australian Swimmer Who Won Three Gold Medals at the 1956 Olympic Games)
Murray Rose
3
Birthdate: January 6, 1939
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Birmingham, England
Died: April 15, 2012

Murray Rose was an Australian swimmer, sports commentator, actor, and marketing executive. A former world record holder, Rose is best remembered for winning three gold medals at the 1956 Olympic Games. He also won a gold medal, a silver medal, and a bronze medal at the 1960 Olympic Games. In 2001, Murray Rose was honored with the prestigious Centenary Medal.

 27 
Pieter van den Hoogenband
(Dutch Retired Swimmer and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Pieter van den Hoogenband
3
Birthdate: March 14, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Maastricht, Netherlands
Height: 6'4" (193 cm)
 28 
Shirley Babashoff
(American Former Competition Swimmers and Olympic Gold Medalists)
Shirley Babashoff
5
Birthdate: January 31, 1957
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Whittier, California, United States

Shirley Babashoff is an American retired competitive swimmer who won three gold medals at two different Olympic Games. A former world record-holder, Babashoff set six world records and 37 national records during her illustrious career. In 1982, Shirley Babashoff was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. After retiring from the sport, Babashoff began a coaching career.

 29 
Kornelia Ender
(German Former Swimmer)
Kornelia Ender
5
Birthdate: October 25, 1958
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Plauen, Bezirk Karl-Marx-Stadt, Germany
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 30 
Tracy Caulkins
(American Former Competition Swimmer and Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Tracy Caulkins
5
Birthdate: January 11, 1963
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Winona, Minnesota, United States

Tracy Caulkins is an American retired competitive swimmer. A former world record-holder, Caulkins won three gold medals at the 1984 Olympics. A celebrated swimmer, Caulkins was honored with the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award in 1978; at age 15, she became the youngest-ever recipient of the award. Caulkins also won several FINA World Aquatics Championships during her illustrious career.

 31 
Kristin Otto
(German Swimmer and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Kristin Otto
5
Birthdate: February 7, 1966
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
 32 
Dick Pound
(Canadian Swimming Champion, First President of the World Anti-doping Agency & Vice President of the International Olympic Committee)
Dick Pound
4
Birthdate: March 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: St. Catharines, Canada
 33 
Gertrude Ederle
(American Competition Swimmer, Olympic Champion, and World Record-Holder in Five Events)
Gertrude Ederle
5
Birthdate: October 23, 1906
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: November 30, 2003

Gertrude Ederle made history when she became the first female to cross the English Channel. Unfortunately, she lost her sense of hearing while achieving the feat and later devoted herself to coaching deaf swimmers. She also won 2 bronze medals and a relay gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics.

 34 
Don Schollander
(American Former Competition Swimmer)
Don Schollander
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Five-time Olympic gold medalist Don Schollander was introduced to swimming by his swimmer uncle. Though initially interested in football, he later chose swimming as a career option. Post-retirement, he has penned books and has launched a real-estate company. He was also part of the Yale secret society Skull and Bones.

 35 
John Naber
(American Former Competitive Swimmer and Five-Time Olympic Medalist)
John Naber
3
Birthdate: January 20, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Evanston, Illinois, United States

John Naber is an American retired competitive swimmer, sports broadcaster, writer, and motivational speaker. Naber won four gold medals and a silver medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. A former world record-holder, Naber was honored with the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award in 1977. In 1982, he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

 36 
Debbie Meyer
(American Former Competition Swimmer and Three-time Olympic Champion)
Debbie Meyer
5
Birthdate: August 14, 1952
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Annapolis, Maryland, United States

Debbie Meyer made history when she became the first female swimmer to earn gold medals in three individual events at the same Olympics. Though the freestyle expert suffered for asthma since childhood, her condition never hampered her swimming career. She later launched her own swimming school.

 37 
Mary T. Meagher
(American Former Competition Swimmer, Olympic Champion, and World Record-Holder)
Mary T. Meagher
4
Birthdate: October 27, 1964
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky, United States

Mary T. Meagher is an American retired competitive swimmer. Meagher clocked the 100-meter butterfly in 57.93 and the 200-meter butterfly in 2:05.96 in 1981; this performance is counted among the greatest achievements in sports. After winning three gold medals at the 1984 Olympics, Meagher went on to compete in the 1988 Olympics where she won a bronze medal.

 38 
Lynne Cox
(First Person to Swim Between the United States and the Soviet Union)
Lynne Cox
5
Birthdate: January 2, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Lynne Cox is an American swimmer, speaker, and writer. She is best known for swimming in the Bering Strait in an attempt to ease the Cold War tensions between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan. By doing so, Cox became the first person to swim between the Soviet Union and the United States and earned praises from both Reagan and Gorbachev.

 39 
Tom Dolan
(American Former Competition Swimmer, Two-Time Olympic Champion, and Former World Record-Holder)
Tom Dolan
2
Birthdate: September 15, 1975
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Arlington County, Virginia, United States

Tom Dolan is an American retired competitive swimmer who won gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. A former world record-holder, Dolan was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2009, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. After retiring from competitive swimming, Dolan founded the Tom Dolan Swim School.

 40 
Michael Gross
(Former German Competitive Swimmer)
Michael Gross
3
Birthdate: June 17, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Height: 6'7" (201 cm)
 41 
Benoît Lecomte
(French Long-Distance Swimmer)
Benoît Lecomte
3
Birthdate: June 3, 1967
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Benoit Lecomte
 42 
Herbert Nitsch
(Austrian Freediver Who Holds the World Record of Deepest Dive at 253.2 meters)
Herbert Nitsch
4
Birthdate: April 20, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Austria

Widely known as the deepest man on Earth, Austrian freediver Herbert Nitsch currently holds the world freediving world record for his exceptional dive of 214 m. He has previously also worked as a pilot. He is also the only diver to hold records in all of AIDA's 8 freediving disciplines.

 43 
Roland Matthes
(German Swimmer)
Roland Matthes
2
Birthdate: November 17, 1950
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pößneck, Germany
Died: December 20, 2019

Roland Matthes was a German swimmer famous as the most successful backstroke swimmer of all time. He swam 19 world and 21 European records in various backstroke,  freestyle, butterfly, and medley events between April 1967 and August 1974. After retiring from swimming, he studied medicine at the University of Jena and became an orthopedic surgeon.

 44 
Julian Kostov
(Bulgarian Actor, Filmmaker and a 10-Time National Swimming Champion)
Julian Kostov
3
Birthdate: August 25, 1989
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Varna, Bulgaria

Bulgarian actor, talent-manager, filmmaker and former pro-swimmer Julian Kostov became 10-time National Swimming Champion and received Master of Sport title in Swimming. As an actor Kostov has appeared in different films and series including starring in the film Another Mother's Son. He plays recurring role in Netflix series Shadow and Bone. He founded the production and talent-management company JupiterLights Productions.

 45 
Vladimir Salnikov
(Russian Former Freestyle Swimmer)
Vladimir Salnikov
2
Birthdate: May 21, 1960
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
 46 
Estella Warren
(Actress, Model and Swimmer Known for Her Roles in Films: ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Tangled’)
Estella Warren
2
Birthdate: December 23, 1978
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Peterborough, Canada

Pin-up girl Estella Warren had been a Canadian swimming champion before she was scouted by an agent and sent to New York. An international model who has topped Maxim’s Hot 100 Women of 2000 list, Warren has also appeared in films such as Planet of the Apes.

 47 
Franziska van Almsick
(German Swimmer)
Franziska van Almsick
2
Birthdate: April 5, 1978
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
 48 
Natalie du Toit
(Swimmer)
Natalie du Toit
5
Birthdate: January 29, 1984
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cape Town

While she began her career as an international swimmer at 14, Natalie du Toit had her left leg amputated after a scooter accident. However, that didn’t deter her spirit, and she was the only disabled swimmer to compete at the Beijing Olympics. She has also won 13 Paralympic gold medals.

 49 
Pablo Cimadevila
(Swimmer)
Pablo Cimadevila
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1978
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pontevedra, Spain
 50 
Annette Kellerman
(Australian Professional Swimmer and Actress)
Annette Kellerman
11
Birthdate: July 6, 1887
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Marrickville, Australia
Died: November 6, 1975

Annette Kellerman was an Australian vaudeville star, writer, film actress, and professional swimmer. A fashion icon, Kellerman was among the first women to wear and popularize a one-piece swimsuit. She also helped popularize synchronized swimming. An advocate of natural beauty, health, and fitness, Annette Kellerman was one of the first major actresses to appear nude in a Hollywood film.