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Top 10 Greatest Swimmers Of All Time11 min read

top 10 greatest swimmers of all time-michael phelps swimming

In this post, we will check out the top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

Swimming is one of the exciting sports around the world. This article is all about the top 10 greatest swimmers of all time. If you are reading the post it means you are a lover of swimming.

We will gonna outline the top 10 swimmers in the history of the game. There are various idols and legends in the field of swimming, so we chose to compile the top ten swimmers of all time.

Compiling the top 10 list of the greatest swimmers of all time is not an easy task. However we have combined stats, figures to stand out as the greatest swimmers of all time.

There are some superstars of the game who changed the sport completely with their performance over the years in the field of swimming. So let’s go ahead and check out the top 10 greatest swimmers of all time in the history of the sport.

Top 10 Greatest Swimmers Of All Time

1 Michael Phelps

Image Credit- inc Magazine

Michael Phelps is referred to as the “GOAT” in swimming. He is a former American swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time. Nobody comes close to his tally of medals in the Olympics(28). Phelps also holds the all-time record for Olympic gold medals which is 23.

His tally of 8 gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Games, broke Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of seven at single Olympic Games. His international titles and world record performances have made him the recipient of the World Swimmer of the Year Award six times and the American Swimmer of the Year Award eight times.

Phelps is the long course world record holder in the men’s 400-meter individual medley and former long course world record holder in the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, and 200-meter individual medley.

Phelps received Sports Illustrated magazine’s Sportsman of the Year award due to his Olympic achievement in the 2008 Games. He is widely known as the greatest swimmer of all time.

2 Mark Spitz

Image Credit- Usopm

Mark Spitz is a former American swimmer and nine-time Olympic champion. He was the most thriving athlete at the 1972 Summer Olympics which was held in Munich. He won a total of seven gold medals, that too in a world record time. A record that has not been matched since.

This feat lasted for more than 36 years which finally broken by another American named Michael Phelps. He won eight golds at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Between 1968 and 1972, Spitz was undefeatable and won a total of nine Olympic golds, a silver, and a bronze. During those years, he set 33 world records in Swimming, which is quite impressive. World Magazine selected him World Swimmer of the Year in 1969, 1971, and 1972.

He is one of the only five Olympians who have won 9 or more gold medals at the Games. He is number 2 in our list of top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

3 Matt Biondi

Image Credit- Swimming World

Matt Biondi is a former American champions swimmer, eleven-time Olympic medalist, and former world record-holder in five different events. Biondi contested in the Summer Olympic Games which includes 1984, 1988, and 1992, winning a total of eleven medals (eight gold, two silver, and one bronze).

During his career, he set three individual world records in the 50-meter freestyle and four in the 100-meter freestyle. At the 1988 Olympic Games, a Seoul storm set up by Biondi. He won a total of five gold medals and setting up world records in the 50-meter freestyle and three relay events.

Biondi is selected as a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. Matt had a total count of 11 Olympic medals which includes three different editions(8 golds, 2 silvers, and 1 bronze).

He’s the most dominant swimmer in the 1984, 1988, and 1992 games. He is number 3 in our list of top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

4 Ian Thorpe

Image Credit- ABC

Ian Thorpe is an Australian retired swimmer and one of the most famous athletes of Australia. He specialized in freestyle, but also raced in backstroke and the individual medley. He has won five Olympic gold medals, which is the most by any Australian to date.

At the age of 14, Thorpe became the youngest male ever to represent Australia. His triumph in the 400-meter freestyle at the 1998 Perth World Championships earned him the youngest-ever individual male World Champion. He also became the first swimmer to win six gold medals in a particular World Championship.

Thorpe is known for the nickname “Thorpedo” because of his pace in swimming. He was the first person to have been identified as the World Swimmer of the Year four times and the Australian Swimmer of the Year from 1999 to 2003. His accomplishments and his performance in Olympics made him one of Australia’s most popular athletes.

It would not be wrong to say that Ian Thorpe is one of the greatest swimmers in the history of the Olympics. Thorpe is number 4 in our list of top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

5 Dara Torres

Image Credit- Usopm

Dara Torres is a former American swimmer. She is a 12-time Olympic medalist and holds a world record in three events during her career. Torres is the first swimmer to serve the United States in five different Olympic Games which include 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2008.

She also became the oldest swimmer at the age of 41 to represent the U.S. in Olympics. She broke the record held by Britain’s William Robinson to become the oldest swimmer to win a medal at the Olympic Games.

Torres won the silver for all the events that she participated in(50m freestyle, 4×100m medley relay, and 4×100m freestyle relay). Torres clinched a total of five medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics. She is also a swimmer who won at least one medal in every Olympics that she participated in throughout her career.

Torres is one of the most renowned swimmers in the history of the Olympics. She was named one of the “Top Female Athletes of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated. She is number 5 in our list of top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

6 Natalie Coughlin

top 10 greatest swimmers of all time
Image Credit- BuzzFeed

Natalie Coughlin is an American competition swimmer and twelve-time Olympic medalist. She became the first woman ever to swim the 100-meter backstroke (long course) in less than one minute.

Her grew to stardom started when she became the first U.S. female athlete in Olympic history to win six medals in one Olympiad. She has achieved that in the 2008 Summer Olympics. She also became the first woman ever to win a 100-meter backstroke gold in two consecutive Olympics.

In the 2012 Summer Olympics, she won a bronze medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. Coughlin’s performance over the years helped her to win the World Swimmer of the Year Award once and the American Swimmer of the Year Award thrice during her career.

Her medal count shows the level of excellence in the field of swimming. She had a total of sixty medals in major international competitions which includes twenty-five gold, twenty-two silver, and thirteen bronze fording the Olympics, the World, and the Pan American Games.

With a total of 12 Olympic medals, Coughlin is drawn with the swimmers like Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson for the most-decorated female American Olympians.

7 Janet Evans

top 10 greatest swimmers of all time
Image credit- Lifetime

Janet Beth Evans is an American swimmer who trained in distance freestyle events. Evans was one of the best swimmers, world champion, and world record-holder. She had a total of four gold medals at the 1988 and the 1992 Olympics.

It was all started in 1987, when she broke the world records in the 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1,500-meter freestyle distances. At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, she excelled in her performance and won three individual gold medals.

In Seoul, Janet won the gold in the 400m medley and 800m freestyle, which she successfully defended after four years in Barcelona. She became the first female swimmer to win back-to-back Olympic golds in any event.

At the end of Evans’s swimming career, she held a total of seven world records, five Olympic medals, and 45 American national titles. She is number 7 in our list of top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

8 Ryan Lochte

top 10 greatest swimmers of all time
Image Credit – Daily Times Nigeria

Ryan Lochte is an American swimmer and 12-time Olympic medalist. He is the second-most decorated swimmer in Olympic history just behind the great Michael Phelps. He currently holds the world records in the 200-meter individual medley (long and short course).

As a member of the American teams, he also holds the world record in the 4×200-meter freestyle (long course) and 4×100-meter freestyle (mixed) relay.

There is no denying the fact that Lochte is one of the best swimmers in the history of the game. He is also the current world record holder in 100-metre, 200-metre, and 400-meter individual medleys.

Lochte’s performance has earned him SwimSwam’s Swammy Award for U.S. Male Swimmer of the Year in 2013, the World Swimmer of the Year Award, and the American Swimmer of the Year Award twice.

His seven individual Olympic medals helped him to be in the number 2 spot in the history of men’s swimming. Lochte has a total collection of 12 Olympic medals which includes 6 Golds, 3 silver, and 3 bronze.

9 Kristin Otto

top 10 greatest swimmers of all time
Image Credit- Wikipedia

Kristin Otto is a German swimming sensation of her time. She is one of the most dominating swimmers and one of the first women to win six gold medals at a single Olympic Games. She had achieved that at the 1988 Seoul Olympic games.

At the 1986 World Championships in Madrid, Otto won 4 gold medals which include 100 m freestyle, 200 m individual medley, 4×100 m medley relay, and 4×100 m freestyle relay, and 2 silver medals (50 m freestyle, 100 m butterfly). Her domination continued at the 1987 European Championships where she won 5 gold medals.

She was also selected as the Female World Swimmer of the Year in 1984, 1986, and 1988 by Swimming World magazine.

Otto established a new world record in each of her major events which include 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, and 100m butterfly events, before retiring from swimming in 1989.

10 Johnny Weissmuller

top 10 greatest swimmers of all time
image Credit- Johnny Weissmuller

Johnny Weissmuller was the American best swimmer of his time. Weissmuller was popularly known for his best swimming records of the 20th century. He had many world records including winning 5 gold medals in the Olympics.

He accomplished the 100m freestyle, 4x200m relay team event in 1924 at the Paris Games, furthermore again in 1928 at the Amsterdam Games.

Weissmuller had won a total of five Olympic gold medals and one bronze medal. He also won 52 US National Championships and produced 67 world records. Apart from his swimming career, he was also a dominating name as an actor.

He had portrayed an iconic Tarzan character in films. He still the best actor to play the role of Tarzan when comparing with the other actors around the world.

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