Famous American Swimmers

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Find out more about the greatest American Swimmers, including Michael Phelps, Johnny Weissmuller, Ryan Lochte, Lynne Cox and Mark Spitz.
Vote for Your Favourite American Swimmers
 1 
Michael Phelps
(American Former Competitive Swimmer and the Most Successful Olympian of All Time With a Total of 28 Medals)
Michael Phelps
12
Birthdate: June 30, 1985
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

The most decorated and successful Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps is a former competitive swimmer who has won a total of 28 Olympic medals. He is widely considered one of the greatest athletes ever and the greatest swimmer of all time. He has several world records and Olympic records under his belt.

 2 
Katie Ledecky
(One of the Greatest Female Swimmers of All Time)
Katie Ledecky
14
Birthdate: March 17, 1997
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky has also won 15 world championship gold medals, creating a record. At 15, she was the youngest American Olympic swimming team member at the 2012 London Olympics. The 6-foot-tall athlete is also a Stanford graduate and was the youngest Time 100 member in 2016.

 3 
Ryan Lochte
(American Swimmer, 12-Time Olympic Medalist and the Second Most Decorated Swimmer in Olympic History)
Ryan Lochte
10
Birthdate: August 3, 1984
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rochester, New York, United States

Swimmer Ryan Lochte has won 12 Olympic medals, including six golds, and is the joint-second-most-decorated swimmer in the history of Olympics. He is known for his expertise in freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, and individual categories. He was suspended for vandalism while in Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

 4 
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.

 5 
Mark Spitz
(American Former Competitive 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!

 6 
Missy Franklin
(American Former Swimmer and Five-Time Olympic Gold Medallist)
Missy Franklin
8
Birthdate: May 10, 1995
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pasadena, California, United States

Missy Franklin is an American retired competitive swimmer. A five-time Olympic gold medalist, Franklin also held the world records in both the 200-meter backstroke and the 4×100-meter medley relay. After winning four gold medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Franklin went on to help her team win a gold medal in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

 7 
Natalie Coughlin
(The First Woman Ever to Swim the 100-meter Backstroke (Long Course) in Less Than One Minute)
Natalie Coughlin
4
Birthdate: August 23, 1982
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vallejo, California, United States

Natalie Coughlin is an American retired competitive swimmer. A 12-time Olympic medalist, Coughlin became the first American female athlete in the history of the modern Olympics to win six medals in one Olympics event at the 2008 Summer Olympics. She also became the first woman to win gold medals in two successive Olympics, she won the mdeals in the 100-meter backstroke event.

 8 
Nathan Adrian
(American Competitive Swimmer and Five-Time Olympic Champion)
Nathan Adrian
4
Birthdate: December 7, 1988
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bremerton, Washington, United States

Nathan Adrian is an American swimmer who helped his team win a gold medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Adrian then went on to win gold medals in the 4×100-meter medley relay and the 100-meter freestyle at the 2012 Summer Olympics. In the 2016 Olympics, he once again helped his team win a gold medal.

 9 
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. 

 10 
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.

 11 
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.

 12 
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. 

 13 
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.

 14 
Victoria Arlen
(Former American Paralympian Swimmer and Current Television Personality for ESPN)
Victoria Arlen
4
Birthdate: September 26, 1994
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Victoria Arlen is an American television personality currently working for ESPN. Apart from being a television personality, Arlen is also an actress, model, speaker, and former Paralympian swimmer. She is best known for overcoming two rare conditions that stripped her of her ability to walk, speak, eat, and move. In 2012, she participated in the Summer Paralympics, representing the USA.

 15 
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.

 16 
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.

 17 
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.

 18 
Jenny Thompson
8
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.

 19 
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.  

 20 
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.

 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 
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.

 23 
Aaron Peirsol
(Swimmer)
Aaron Peirsol
4
Birthdate: July 23, 1983
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Irvine, California, United States

Swimmer Aaron Peirsol has 7 Olympic medals in his kitty, of which 5 are gold medals. The political science major enjoys surfing, too. An environmentalist, he also teamed up with Oceana to work for the Race for the Oceans campaign. His interests also include blues music, and he is already planning an album.

 24 
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.

 25 
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.

 26 
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.

 27 
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.

 28 
Amanda Beard
(Swimmer, Model)
Amanda Beard
3
Birthdate: October 29, 1981
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Newport Beach

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.

 29 
Jessica Long
(Swimmer)
Jessica Long
1
Birthdate: February 29, 1992
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bratsk, Russia
 30 
Erica Sullivan
(Swimmer - Freestyle Strokes)
Erica Sullivan
3
Birthdate: August 9, 2000
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
 31 
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.

 32 
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.

 33 
Tracy Caulkins
3
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.

 34 
John Naber
(American Former Competitive Swimmer)
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.

 35 
Allison Schmitt
(Swimmer who is a four-time Olympian and a ten-time Olympic medalist)
Allison Schmitt
5
Birthdate: June 7, 1990
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

Swimmer Allison Schmitt, a freestyle expert, has won 10 Olympic medals. She had started swimming at the tender age of 8 and had qualified for her first Olympics at 18. She also has 25 other medals from various international contests and has been named to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.

 36 
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.

 37 
Mary T. Meagher
2
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 
Matt Grevers
(Swimmer)
Matt Grevers
3
Birthdate: March 26, 1985
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lake Forest

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.

 39 
Tom Dolan
(Swimmer)
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 
Milorad Čavić
(Serbian Former Professional Swimmer)
Milorad Čavić
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1984
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Anaheim, California, United States

Milorad Čavić is a Serbian retired competitive swimmer who won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Beijing. A former world record holder, Čavić also won World and European championship titles during his career. In 2003, 2008, and 2009, Milorad Čavić was honored with the OCS Sportsman of the Year Award.

 41 
Anastasia Pagonis
(Gold Medalists at the 2020 Summer Paralympics)
Anastasia Pagonis
1
Birthdate: May 2, 2004
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Long Island, New York, United States
 42 
Eleanor Holm
(Swimmer)
Eleanor Holm
3
Birthdate: December 6, 1913
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: January 31, 2004

Eleanor Holm was an American competitive swimmer best remembered for winning a gold medal at the 1932  Olympics in Los Angeles. After being expelled by Avery Brundage from the 1936 Olympics team under controversial circumstances, Holm went on to establish herself as an interior designer and socialite. Eleanor Holm also appeared in the 1938 adventure film Tarzan's Revenge.

 43 
Robert Emmet Odlum
(Diver, Swimmer)
Robert Emmet Odlum
0
Birthdate: August 31, 1851
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ogdensburg, New York, United States
Died: May 19, 1885

Robert Emmet Odlum was an American lifeguard and swimming instructor. Odlum is credited with founding a swimming school called Natatorium in Washington, D.C. where he taught the children of many influential personalities. Robert Emmet Odlum is best remembered for jumping to his death from the Brooklyn Bridge; the jump was a planned gimmick to gain popularity.

 44 
Florence Chadwick
3
Birthdate: November 9, 1918
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Diego, California
Died: March 15, 1995

Florence Chadwick was an American swimmer. In 1951, Chadwick became the first woman to swim across the English Channel both ways, having crossed the Channel from France to England in 1950. In 1970, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

 45 
Cullen Jones
(Swimmer)
Cullen Jones
3
Birthdate: February 29, 1984
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: The Bronx

Cullen Jones was pushed to learn swimming by his mother after he almost drowned at a water park at age 5. Initially one of the rare African-Americans to compete in swimming, he later won 2 silvers and 1 gold at the 2012 London Olympics. The freestyle expert was born on Leap Day.

 46 
Michael Andrew
(2020 Summer Olympics gold medalist and set a world record as part of the 4x100 meter medley relay)
Michael Andrew
1
Birthdate: April 18, 1999
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Edina, Minnesota,United States
 47 
Shirley Babashoff
3
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.

 48 
Donna de Varona
(American Former Competition Swimmer, Activist, and Television Sportscaster)
Donna de Varona
3
Birthdate: April 26, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: San Diego, California, United States

Donna de Varona is an American television sportscaster, activist, and retired competitive swimmer. She is known for winning two gold medals at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Donna promoted the participation of women in sports and helped establish the Women's Sports Foundation in the mid-1970s. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2003.

 49 
Chase Kalisz
(Olympic gold medalist Swimmer in the 400-meter individual medley at the 2020 Summer Olympics)
Chase Kalisz
1
Birthdate: March 7, 1994
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bel Air, Maryland, United States
 50 
Jay Litherland
(He represents DC Trident which is part of the International Swimming League)
Jay Litherland
1
Birthdate: August 24, 1995
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan