Dara Torres olympic swimmer
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Who is the greatest Swimmer of all time based on Olympic Games performances?

There was no shortage of exciting swimming across the globe.

The champions had it all: world records, comeback performances, and epic rivalries that were won in some cases by the ‘hero’ and in some cases by ‘the villain.’

We have used a weighted total medal count of each Swimmer from all modern Olympic Games to rank their overall performance.

With so many great swims over the decades, we’ve narrowed it down to the “Top 5 Olympic Swimmers’.

So folks! Let’s take a quick look without further delay!        

Michael Phelps

When it comes to recounting the accomplishments of Michael Phelps at the Olympic Games, finding sufficient words is a challenge in itself!

‘The Baltimore Bullet’ is a holder of world records in a number of categories. In Sydney 2000, being a member of the swimming powerhouse United States team at the age of 15 happened to be the first of a plethora of records that he was about to set.

Amongst his achievements are the 8 gold medals he won at the Summer Olympics of 2008 held in Beijing, the highest gold medal haul in a single Olympic by any athlete. His total of 22 Olympic medals is also a world record, with his 18 gold medals standing head and shoulders above the best of the rest.

He was named the World Swimmer of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007.

He called it a day after his 4th Olympics, with a staggering 22 medals (18 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze) under his belt leaving his name carved in golden letters in the very highest echelons of Olympic folklore.

He paved his way into the numero-uno position of the ‘Top Olympic Swimmers’ list.

michael phelps olympic swimmer

·        Mark Spitz


When it’s all about ‘Top Olympic Swimmers’, we can never skip Mark Spitz! Can we?


The majestic feat of seven straight golds at a single Olympics that Mark Spitz achieved in 1972 in Munich, is no joke!


Living up to the towering hype that had surrounded him ahead of the 1972 Games, ‘Mark the Shark’ swept the swimming events in Munich, setting a new world record in all seven of his conquered races – a record that has not been paralleled since.


Although his attempt to resurface in Olympic swimming in 1992 at the age of 41 didn’t yield fruit , Spitz goes down in history as a legend who won 11 medals, nine of them being golds, which makes him one of the only five Olympians to have won 9 or more gold medals at the Games. 

Mark spitz olympic swimmer

Matt Biondi

The ‘California Condor’ ranks third in our ‘Top Olympic Swimmers’ chart!

Known for his huge wing span, Matthew Biondi is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and an Olympic legend who hails from the state of California.

He had won just one relay gold in his Games debut in Los Angeles 1984. In his second outing in Seoul in 1988, however, Matt arrived all guns blazing, and steamrolled over his competitors to clinch 7 straight medals, 5 of which were golds, creating 4 new world records along the way.

Two more team golds and individual freestyle silver in Barcelona later, Matt retired from his trade in 1992 with a spectacular count of 11 Olympic medals from three editions (8 golds, 2 silvers and 1 bronze).

matt biondi olympic swimmer

Ian Thorpe  

 Thorpe is, without doubt, one of the greatest swimmers ever, if not one of the greatest athletes.

He has established himself as one of the greatest ever swimmers in the history of Olympics. No other Australian has been able to match his Olympic gold tally.

Australia’s most decorated Olympian ‘The Thorpedo’ provided the home audience with plenty to cheer for as he became the most successful athlete in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. 

Known for his blinding speed, the specialist in freestyle swimming captured 3 golds and 2 silvers in Sydney and went on to add 4 more medals, 2 of which were freestyle golds, to his cabinet at the 2004 Athens Olympics.  In addition to that, he has been nominated four times as the World Swimmer of the Year by the Swimming World International magazine.

The dominance that he exercised in the competitive arena in his favourite discipline for six years till his break after the Athens edition was a rare feat at the Olympic level. 

Ian Thorpe olympic swimmer

Dara Torres

 How can we forget this Californian swimmer?

Swimmer Dara Torres staged her comeback after seven years away from the sport in Sydney 2000, and walked away from the International Aquatic Centre with two golds and three bronze medals under her belt.

The 41-year-old, become the oldest swimmer to win a medal at the Games At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. , Dara defied the odds of age and rivalry to play a pivotal role in ensuring hard-fought silver for her team and herself.

A unique aspect of her outstanding tally of twelve Olympic medals (4 of each colour – gold, silver and bronze) is that she has won at least one medal in every single Game that she’d been a part of, in 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008. 

 Therefore she had to be placed among the ‘Top Olympic Swimmers’ countdown!

Dara Torres olympic swimmer

Did you favourite swimmer make the cut? Let us know in the comment section below.    


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