Famous 20th Century Swimmers

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 1 

Caeleb Dressel
10
Birthdate: August 16, 1996
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Green Cove Springs, Florida, United States

Caeleb Dressel is an American swimmer. A seven-time Olympic gold medalist, Dressel became the fifth American to win five or more gold medals in a single Olympic event since 1970 when he won five gold medals at the 2020 Summer Olympics. He also holds world records in the 50 meter freestyle, 100 meter butterfly, and 100 meter individual medley.

 2 
Mark Spitz
(Swimmer and Nine-time Olympic Champion)

Mark Spitz
6
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!

 3 
Adam Peaty
(Swimmer)

Adam Peaty
6
Birthdate: December 28, 1994
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Uttoxeter Uttoxeter, England
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 4 

Katinka Hosszu
4
Birthdate: May 3, 1989
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pécs, Hungary

 5 
Sun Yang
(Swimmer)

Sun Yang
4
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.

 6 
Dara Torres
(Swimmer, Model)

Dara Torres
6
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. 

 7 
Amy Van Dyken
(Swimmer)

Amy Van Dyken
4
Birthdate: February 15, 1973
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado, United States

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.

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 8 
Dawn Fraser
(Swimmer)

Dawn Fraser
4
Birthdate: September 4, 1937
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Balmain

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.

 9 
Rowdy Gaines
(Swimmer)

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.

 10 
Janet Evans
(Swimmer)

Janet Evans
3
Birthdate: August 28, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fullerton

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.

 11 
Grant Hackett
(Swimmer)

Grant Hackett
3
Birthdate: May 9, 1980
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Southport

 12 

Jenny Thompson
5
Birthdate: February 26, 1973
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Danvers

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.

 13 

Stephanie Rice
4
Birthdate: June 17, 1988
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brisbane

 14 
Shane Gould
(Swimmer)

Shane Gould
3
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.

 15 
Ian Thorpe
(Swimmer, Autobiographer)

Ian Thorpe
4
Birthdate: October 13, 1982
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sydney

Ian Thorpe is an Australian retired swimmer who won five Olympic gold medals. He predominantly competed in freestyle but was also skilled at backstroke and the individual medley. He emerged as the most successful athlete at the 2000 Summer Olympics, with three gold and two silver medals. He is openly gay and often talks about the challenges of being homosexual. 

 16 
Matt Biondi
(Swimmer)

Matt Biondi
3
Birthdate: October 8, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Palo Alto

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.  

 17 
Esther Williams
(Former swimmer who became a movie icon in aqua musicals)

Esther Williams
4
Birthdate: August 8, 1921
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Inglewood, California, United States
Died: June 6, 2013

Esther Williams was an American actress, competitive swimmer, and businesswoman. When she couldn't realize her dream of participating in the 1940 Summer Olympics due to the outbreak of the Second World War, Williams went on to establish herself as an actress. She gained national recognition after playing Annette Kellerman in Million Dollar Mermaid and helped popularize swimming in the USA. 

 18 
Dana Vollmer
(Swimmer)

Dana Vollmer
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Syracuse

Apart from winning 5 Olympic gold medals, swimmer Dana Vollmer also created history when she became the first female to swim under 56 seconds in the 100m butterfly event. Diagnosed with a heart condition at age 15, she went through surgery and later carried a defibrillator around with her.

 19 
Laszlo Cseh
(Swimmer)

Laszlo Cseh
3
Birthdate: December 3, 1985
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary

 20 

Alexander Popov
3
Birthdate: November 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lesnoy, Russia

 21 
Jason Lezak
(Swimmer)

Jason Lezak
3
Birthdate: November 12, 1975
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bellflower

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.

 22 
Estella Warren
(Actress, Model and Swimmer Known for Her Roles in Films: ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Tangled’)

Estella Warren
4
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.

 23 

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.

 24 

Rebecca Adlington
4
Birthdate: February 17, 1989
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mansfield

Rebecca Adlington made headlines with her double-gold win at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in which she aced both the 400m and 800m freestyle events. After retiring at 23, she has worked for BBC as a sports pundit and participated in shows such as I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

 25 
Leisel Jones
(Swimmer)

Leisel Jones
5
Birthdate: August 30, 1985
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Katherine

 26 

Shavarsh Karapetyan
4
Birthdate: May 19, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vanadzor, Armenia

 27 
Buster Crabbe
(Swimmer)

Buster Crabbe
6
Birthdate: February 7, 1908
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States
Died: April 23, 1983

Apart from being an Olympic gold-winning swimmer, Buster Crabbe later also became a well-known actor. He was seen in over 170 movies, with lead roles in series such as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. The International Swimming Hall of Fame inductee had also penned fitness books and owned a swimming pool company.

 28 

Inge de Bruijn
3
Birthdate: August 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Barendrecht, Netherlands

 29 
Johnny Weissmuller
(Olympic Swimmer and Actor Who Played Tarzan)

Johnny Weissmuller
4
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.

Pieter van den Hoogenband
3
Birthdate: March 14, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Maastricht

 31 
Rebecca Soni
(Swimmer)

Rebecca Soni
3
Birthdate: March 18, 1987
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Freehold

The winner of 6 Olympic medals, 3 of which were gold medals, swimmer Rebecca Soni is a breaststroke specialist. She also became the first female swimmer to complete the breaststroke event in less than 2:20 minutes. Initially trained as a gymnast, she had switched to swimming at age 10.

Ragnheiður Ragnarsdóttir
4
Birthdate: October 24, 1984
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Reykjavík, Iceland

 33 
Summer Sanders
(Swimmer, Television actor)

Summer Sanders
4
Birthdate: October 13, 1972
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Roseville

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.

 34 

Krisztina Egerszegi
3
Birthdate: August 16, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary

 35 

Kieren Perkins
3
Birthdate: August 14, 1973
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brisbane, Australia

 36 
João Havelange
(7th President of FIFA)

João Havelange
4
Birthdate: May 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro
Died: August 16, 2016

 37 
Gary Hall Jr.
(Swimmer)

Gary Hall Jr.
3
Birthdate: September 26, 1974
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Apart from winning 10 Olympic medals, including 5 golds, Gary Hall Jr. is also known for his battle with Type 1 diabetes. He was born into a family of Olympic swimmers and was known for his signature boxer-like gestures he resorted to prior to every contest. He also survived a shark attack.

 38 
Diana Nyad
(Journalist, Squash player, Motivational speaker)

Diana Nyad
4
Birthdate: August 22, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City

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.

 39 
Murray Rose
(Swimmer)

Murray Rose
3
Birthdate: January 6, 1939
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Birmingham, England
Died: April 15, 2012

 40 

Yuliya Yefimova
4
Birthdate: April 3, 1992
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Grozny, Russia

 41 
Princess Charlene of Monaco
(Former Olympic Swimmer and Princess Consort of Monaco (Since 2011))

Princess Charlene of Monaco
2
Birthdate: January 25, 1978
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Charlene, Princess of Monaco, was once an Olympic swimmer and represented South Africa at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. She met her husband, Prince Albert, at a swimming competition. She now owns the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation and works for causes related to AIDS, sports, and underprivileged children.

 42 

Gertrude Ederle
3
Birthdate: October 23, 1905
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City
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.

 43 

Kornelia Ender
3
Birthdate: October 25, 1958
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Plauen, Bezirk Karl-Marx-Stadt, Germany

 44 
Dick Pound
(Lawyer, First president of the World Anti-Doping Agency and vice-president of the International Olympic Committee)

Dick Pound
4
Birthdate: March 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: St. Catharines, Canada

 45 
Kristin Otto
(Olympic athlete)

Kristin Otto
3
Birthdate: February 7, 1966
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany

 46 
Lynne Cox
(First Person to Swim Between the United States and the Soviet Union)

Lynne Cox
3
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.

 47 

Ralf Moeller
3
Birthdate: January 12, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Recklinghausen, Germany

 48 
Debbie Meyer
(Swimmer)

Debbie Meyer
3
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.

 49 

Benoît Lecomte
3
Birthdate: June 3, 1967
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Benoit Lecomte

 50 

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.