Top 10 Greatest Swimmers of All Time

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The Tokyo Olympics has just closed its curtains. And what’s the most entertaining event at any Olympics? Yeah, you guessed it right! Swimming comes with wrecking thunderbolts. And it’s a perfect time to know the top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

Hope that will help you with the question- who is the greatest swimmer of all time!! Dig for the deets!

The List of Top 10 Greatest Swimmers of All Time

Sl No Name of the Swimmer Country Total Medals
01 Michael Phelps America 28
02 Mark Spitz America 11
03 Matt Biondi America 11
04 Ian Thorpe Australia 09
05 Dara Torres America 12
06 Natalie Coughlin America 12
07 Ryan Lochte America 12
08 Kristin Otto Germany 06
09 Janet Evans America 05
10 Johnny Weissmuller America 06

There are hundreds of amazing swimmers I’d love to talk about. But that will turn into a never-ending saga! To help you out here’s the list of top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

1. Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps

If you haven’t heard about Michael Phelps, you might be living under some rock! Phelps is one the fastest and the most famous swimmers of all time. Till now nobody comes close to his Olympic achievements.

In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Phelps won 8 gold medals with 7 fresh records. With his one-man show, he left behind Mark Spitz’s 7 gold record. His world record in men’s 4×100-meter individual is still intact.

The list is yet to finish! He is six times World Swimmer of the Year and 8 times American Swimmer of the Year. On the top of the list for a reason, no?

2. Mark Spitz

Mark Spitz

Spitz is the predecessor to Phelps in the list of swimming legends. During 1968-1972 Spitz was the unstoppable swimmer with 9 Olympic golds. Within that short period, he set a whopping 33 records!

Only in the 2008 Olympics, Michael Phelps broke his 36 years long record! Also, Spitz became swimmer of the year three times. Mark the Shark is among the 5 Olympic legends to achieve 9 Golds.

3. Matt Biondi

Matt Biondi

Matt Biondi is celebrated as the California Condor for his spectacular wingspan. During 1984-1992 he won a total of 11 Olympic medals including 8 golds.

He has earned his place in the International Swimming Hall of Fame along with the United States Olympic Hall of Fame.

In 1988 Seoul Olympic, Biondi ruled the pool like thunderbolts. He won 5 gold medals with records.

4. Ian Thorpe

Ian Thorpe

Now we are gonna talk about the Thorpedo! Thorpe represented Australia in Perth World Championship at the age of 14. And he became the youngest male champion ever there.

Thorp swept the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2004 Athens Olympics by storm. He bagged a total of 5 Olympic golds within this period.

This freestyle king is the most successful Australian in Olympics. Also, he’s been World Swimmer of the Year 4 times from 1999 to 2003. He’s justified to be in the top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

5. Dara Torres

Dara Torres

Dara Torres represented the USA in five Olympics. From 1984 to 2008 she ruled the pools like a mermaid! With four golds in her bag, she won a total of 12 Olympic medals.

She is a resilient fighter as well. At the age of 41, she stormed the Beijing Olympic pools. She created a new history to be the oldest medal-winning swimmer in the Olympics.

There’s one interesting fact about her career. Torres has never come back from any Games without medals.

6. Natalie Coughlin

Natalie Coughlin

Coughlin is another shining swimmer from the United States. She shares the Olympic record for winning 6 medals in a single Games. She achieved this excellence in Beijing Olympics 2008.

Coughlin is the first female swimmer to win10m backstroke title consecutively twice. She has 12 Olympic medals including 3 golds, 4 silvers, and 5 bronzes.

Coughlin sure does stand in the top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

7. Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte

With 7 individual medals in a row, Lochte is the second swimmer in men’s swimming. Lochte is only behind Phelps in the individual records.

He is the current record holder for all 100m, 200m, and 400m individual medleys.

Lochte is one of America’s best with 6 golds, and 3 silvers, and 3 bronzes. In 2013 he earned the title of World Swimmer of the Year. Also, he was named American Swimmer of the Year two times.

8. Kristin Otto

Kristin Otto

Kristin Otto fought her way back into her Olympic career in 1988. She suffered from a severe vertebra fracture in 1985. Seems like a full stop in her life, right?

But she marked her come back in the history with grandeur. In the 1988 Olympics, Otto was the first female who won 6 gold medals.

Female World Magazine named her as Female World Swimmer of the World thrice. Such a fabulous swimmer to be in the top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.

9. Janet Evans

Janet Evans

Janet excelled in distance freestyle as a female swimmer. Besides being a world champion, she was also a world record holder.

In the 1988 Seoul Olympics, she won 3 gold medals. Also, she defended her title in the 1992 Olympics. Evans holds 5 Olympic medals, 7 world records, and 45 American titles.

10. Johnny Weissmuller

Here’s trivia for you at the beginning. Weissmuller is the actor playing the iconic Tarzan on screen. And his portrayal of the character is still unparalleled with any other performance.

He has also rocked in the 20th Century Olympics. Weissmuller bagged 5 gold medals and a bronze one. And that many achievements in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics. His forte was100m freestyle and 4x200m relay.

A veteran like Weissmuller is a staple to the list of great swimmers.

Having hard times processing the information? Here’s a table with everything you need to remember. Have a glance at the top 10 greatest swimmers of all time.


To place the greatest swimmers in a serial was the toughest job to do.  The legends on the list above are ranked on their achievements. There’s no intention to disrespect or undervalue any one of them.

Does the list match your one of greatest swimmers? I hope it does!

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