The achievements of the best US swimmers have inspired countless individuals to pursue swimming and strive for greatness in the pool. Let’s learn more.
The United States has a rich history of producing world-class swimmers. With numerous athletes breaking records and winning medals at national and international competitions, it’s clear that the US is still a dominant force in the swimming world.
In addition to producing top-level swimmers, the United States has also been a leader in the development of swimming technology. For example, Benjamin Franklin invented an early version of swim fins in 1717, and the first wetsuits were developed in the United States in the 1950s
Today, swimming remains a popular sport in the United States, with many children learning to swim at a young age and participating in swim teams and competitions. The United States also hosts a number of major swimming events, including the USA Swimming National Championships and the Olympic Trials, which determine which swimmers will represent the nation at the Olympic Games. You might also be interested in our guide on famous British triathletes.
Top US Swimmers Of All Time
Swimming has been one of the most popular sports in the United States for decades, producing numerous world-class athletes. Here are some of the top US swimmers:
1. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is widely considered the greatest swimmer of all time. He has won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which are gold.
The athlete also set a staggering 39 world records throughout his career. He retired after the 2016 Rio Olympics but remains an inspiration to many aspiring swimmers.
2. Katie Ledecky
Katie Ledecky is another American swimmer who has made a significant impact in the sport. Ledecky burst onto the scene at the 2012 London Olympics, where she won a gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle at just 15 years old. Since then, she has continued to dominate the distance freestyle events, winning a total of seven Olympic gold medals.
She has set several world records throughout her career. One of the most recent was when she cleared the 1,500m race in 15 minutes and 8 seconds in 2022. With 16 World titles under her belt, she also surpassed Michael Phelps’ record for most individual world swimming titles.
3. Mark Spitz
Mark Spitz is a former American swimmer who won a total of nine Olympic gold medals, one silver medal, and a bronze medal. He set world records in all seven events he competed in at the 1972 Munich Olympics, a feat that has not been matched by any other swimmer. Spitz was the most successful athlete at the 1972 Olympics and was named World Swimmer of the Year in 1969, 1971, and 1972.
4. Jenny Thompson
Jenny Thompson is a retired American swimmer who won a total of 12 Olympic medals, including eight golds, after competing in four Olympic Games.
Thompson also won 16 gold World Championship medals, 31 in total, and set numerous world records throughout her career. You might also be interested in our round-up of famous female triathletes.
5. Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte is an American swimmer who has won 12 Olympic medals, including six golds. He took home a staggering 90 medals in total from major international contests, 42 of which were gold. Lochte was also declared NCAA Swimmer of the Year twice.
6. Natalie Coughlin
Natalie Coughlin is one of the most decorated female swimmers in American history. She nabbed 12 Olympic medals, three of which were gold.
Coughlin also won a staggering 60 medals at major international competitions in total. In 2022, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
7. Missy Franklin
Missy Franklin burst onto the scene at the 2012 London Olympics, where she won four gold medals and a bronze medal at just 17 years old. She went on to win another gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
8. Ryan Murphy
Ryan Murphy is a veteran of the US swim team, having won four Olympic gold medals and multiple World Championship wins. He is known for his dominance in the backstroke events, particularly the 100m and 200m. Murphy’s smooth technique and powerful strokes make him a formidable opponent in any race.
Promising US Swimmers
These swimming legends have inspired the next generation to give it their all; here are several promising US swimmers to keep an eye on:
9. Destin Lasco
Destin Lasco has been making waves since he was a teenager, breaking records and earning accolades at both the high school and collegiate levels. He has continued his success as a professional swimmer.
In 2021, he was presented with the Pac-12 Freshman Swimmer of the Year award. That same year, he won the 100-yard backstroke, the 200-yard backstroke, the 400-yard free relay, and the 800-yard free relay at the Pac-12 Championships.
10. Caeleb Dressel
Caeleb Dressel burst onto the scene at the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning two gold medals as part of the US relay teams, and went on to win five at the 2020 Toyko Games. He has become one of the top sprinters in the world, with highlights including:
- Fifteen World Championships (LC) gold medals
- Six World Championships (SC) gold medals
- Two Pan Pacific Championships gold medals
- One World Junior Championships gold medal
11. Regan Smith
Regan Smith is a rising star in the world of swimming, having set multiple world records in the backstroke events. She has already won four World Championship gold medals.
She also has three Olympic medals: two silver and a bronze. Smith is known for her smooth technique and incredible underwater work, and she is poised to become one of the top swimmers in the world.
12. Simone Manuel
Simone Manuel made history at the 2016 Rio Olympics, becoming the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic gold medal in swimming. Since then, she has continued to be a dominant force in the pool, winning a total of five Olympic medals: two gold, two silver, and one bronze.
This article was researched with the help of OpenAI and fact-checked and edited by our human editor.