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.
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.
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.
Olympic gold medalist South African swimmer Chad le Clos, who plays for the club Energy Standard, also holds records in the 50- and 100-m butterfly categories in the Commonwealth Games. He is one of his nation’s most-decorated Olympians but failed to get a medal in the 2020 Olympics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Three-time Olympic gold medal-winning Australian swimmer Grant Hackett is a master of freestyle swimming. He also captained the Australian swimming team for a while. Apart from holding several freestyle world records, he also came to be known as the King of the 1500m. He has also worked as a sports presenter.
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.
Stephanie Rice is an Australian retired swimmer best known for winning three gold medals at the 2008 Olympics. In the same year, she was named Telstra Australian Swimmer of the Year. Rice also won two silver medals and five bronze medals at the World Championships during her career. In 2019, she was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Three-time Olympic gold medal-winning Australian swimmer Leisel Jones is also known by her nicknames Diesel and Lethal Leisel. Known for her signature breaststroke technique, she has also won 7 World Championship titles. Post-retirement, she has penned a memoir, been a sports commentator, and qualified as a nutrition coach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.