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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Simone Manuel is the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic gold in swimming, She achieved this feat at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She started swimming at the age of four and swam across the pool on her second day of swim lessons.At the 2016 Olympics, she won gold medals in the 100-meter freestyle and the 4x100-meter medley.
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.
Ann Curtis was an American competitive swimmer best remembered for winning two gold medals and one silver medal at the 1948 Olympics in London. In 1944, she became the first swimmer as well as the first woman to be honored with the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award for her outstanding performance as an amateur athlete.
Helene Madison was an American competitive swimmer best remembered for winning three gold medals at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. Madison broke 16 world records in various distances between 1930 and 1931. In 1966, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In 1992, she was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Ethelda Bleibtrey was not just the first American female to win an Olympic medal in a swimming event but also the first in the world to win three gold medals. She was once almost jailed for removing her stockings before swimming at Manhattan Beach.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Jill Sterkel is not just a freestyle expert but also a skilled water polo player. She later also coached the University of Texas at Austin swimming and diving teams. She shone as a college athlete too and won consecutive Honda Sports Awards.
Katherine Rawls was an American competitive diver and swimmer. Rawls achieved recognition during the 1930s when she was a national champion in several events. As a diver, she competed in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics, winning a silver medal in 1932 Olympics and a silver and bronze medal in 1936 Olympics
Sarah Josephson created quite a sensation in synchronized swimming with her identical twin, Karen Josephson, and the duo won several medals, including a gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and a silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She also has a degree in genetics, though she dropped out of medical school.
Born Mercedes Farhat in Ohio, US, Asmahan Farhat was trained in swimming since childhood. Encouraged by her father, she later chose to swim for her country of origin, Libya, and became the fourth female swimmer from Libya to participate at the Olympics. She is also equipped with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
Born in Miami, US, Isabel Lardizábal represented her country of origin, Honduras, in international competitive swimming. She also represented Honduras in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where she secured the 29th position in the 100m breaststroke and the 23rd position in the 200m breaststroke event.
Born in Miami, Florida, Maria Lardizabal later represented Honduras, her country of origin, in international swimming. She participated in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where she ranked 45th in the 100m freestyle event and 36th in the 200m freestyle event. Her twin, Isabel, too is an Olympian.