The 5 Greatest Swimmers Ever

Swimming certainly is so much fun. It is also one of the top five sports to have featured in almost all of the Olympic Games since 1986. It offers the second-largest event and has seen a countless number of athletes break records and tumble into world record statuses.

The game has both male and female categories. It also features both short and long-distance swim races. The most dominant country in swimming competitions is the United States, which is followed, after a huge difference, by Australia.


In terms of Gold medals won in the Olympics, the US has won 230, while Australia has won 57. This is quite unsurprising, given that the vast majority of the top names in almost all sports are Americans. This is why in our list of the top five greatest swimmers, there will be a couple of them from the US. Check out our list below!

Michael Phelps

We, of course, had to start with Michael Phelps at the top of our five greatest swimmers because this guy has the most accomplishments in the Olympic Games. He won his first award at the age of 15 in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.


In 2004, Phelps participated in eight events in Athens and only fell short in one. This was largely attributed to the fact that he came in third behind Pieter Van Den Hoogenband and Ian Thorpe, which is quite understandable.

He took home six Gold Medals and two Bronze medals, becoming one of the most successful athletes in Athens; a feat that he later repeated in Beijing in 2008 and also in the London Olympics in 2012. He did not just cruise into the eight gold medals in 2008 but did so after creating seven records in the Beijing Olympics.

He retired after participating in his 4th Olympic games but, he came back in 2016 in Rio and went on to win five gold medals and one silver medal. Overall in his career, he had 28 medals to his name, which included 23 gold medals, three silver medals, and two bronze medals. He truly is one of the greatest swimmers ever.


Mark Spitz

Mark Spitz won seven straight gold medals during a single Olympics. This was achieved in the 1972 Olympics held in Munich. After him, it took 36 years for another swimmer to break his record. That was Michael Phelps of course, and this is why Mark Spitz is in our 5 greatest swimmers list.

He had hiked up plenty of hype for the 1972 Olympics and was nicknamed “Mark the Shark.” He swept all of the events in Munich and set the world record we have mentioned above in all of the games he participated in.

He did try resurfacing in 1992 when he was 41 years old, but unfortunately, he did not win any medals. However, he goes down in history as having 11 medals to his name, nine of which are gold medals.

Matt Biondi

Matt Biondi is in the Swimming Hall of Fame because he is an Olympic Legend. He went to Seoul in 1988 guns blazing, steamrolled all of his competitors, and won seven medals. Five of those medals were gold medals and he created four world records all on his own.

He is known as “The California Condor,” because of his huge wingspan. It was hugely anticipated that he would surpass or equal the seven gold haul that Mark Spitz has, but he did not manage to do so. Matt retired from professional swimming after winning 11 Olympic medals; eight gold medals, one bronze, and two silver.

Ian Thorpe

Ian Thorpe is by far one of the most decorated and most famous swimmers in the world today. He is from Australia and provided his home audience with plenty of excitement when he became the most successful athlete in the world in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

He was nicknamed “The Thorpedo,” because of his very fast and blinding speed. He is also a specialist in freestyle swimming which has earned him three gold medals and two silver medals.

He has dominated the competitive arena because of his unique swimming style for six years until he took a break after the Athens Olympic Games. His career was unfortunately cut short due to illness in 2006, but, by then, he was already established as a great swimmer. This is why he will go down in history as one of the five greatest swimmers ever.

Dara Torres

It is so great to have a woman in our five greatest ever swimmers. Dara Torres came back to swimming after she had been missing in action for seven years following the Sydney 2000 Olympics. At this time she had won two gold medals and three bronze medals already.

During the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, she was 41 years old and she managed to smash the century-old world record that had previously been made by William Robinson and became the oldest ever swimmer to win a medal.


That is our list of the five greatest swimmers. These are and were incredible athletes who smashed records and went on to make history. Some of them may have retired, but what they accomplished will live on forever.

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