The Greatest Swimmer at the Olympic Games

Who is the greatest Swimmer of all time based on Olympic Games performances? We have used a weighted total medal count of each male and female Swimmer from all modern Olympic Games to rank their overall performance.olympic poster

The best all-time overall performance in swimming at the Olympic Games is by USA swimmer Michael Phelps. His haul of 23 gold medals between 2004–2016 is the most out of all sports. The highest ranked female swimmer is Jenny Thompson, also from the US, with 12 medals including 8 gold. See the table below to see how other athletes ranked.

See also the best athlete from each sport, and the best overall.

Top Olympic Athletes From Swimming

Here are the top ranked athletes from the sport of swimming for performances at all Olympiads (including 2016), based on medals won using the Topend Sports Weighted Ranking System to order the athletes, awarding points for both gold (6 points) and other medals (silver 2 pts, bronze 1 pt). This list only includes swimmers who have won at least four gold medals.

Table: The Top Ranked Athletes from Swimming at the Olympic Games

rank name country gender Gold Silver Bronze total
medals
rating
1 Michael Phelps USA M 23 3 2 28 146
2 Mark Spitz USA M 9 1 1 11 57
3 Jenny Thompson USA F 8 3 1 12 55
4 Matt Biondi USA M 8 2 1 11 53
5 Ryan Lochte USA M 6 3 3 12 45
6 Gary Hall, Jr. USA M 5 3 2 10 38
7 Ian Thorpe Australia M 5 3 1 9 37
=8 Dara Torres USA F 4 4 4 12 36
=8 Kristin Otto East Germany F 6 0 0 6 36
=8 Amy Van Dyken USA F 6 0 0 6 36
=11 Alexander Popov Russia M 4 5 0 9 34
=11 Aaron Peirsol USA M 5 2 0 7 34
=13 Nathan Adrian USA M 5 1 2 8 34
=13 Krisztina Egerszegi Hungary F 5 1 1 7 33
=15 Tom Jager USA M 5 1 1 7 33
=15 Kornelia Ender East Germany F 4 4 0 8 32
=15 Dawn Fraser Australia F 4 4 0 8 32
18 Katie Ledecky USA F 5 1 0 6 32
=19 Don Schollander USA M 5 1 0 6 32
=19 Missy Franklin USA F 5 0 1 6 31
=19 Inge de Bruijn Netherlands F 4 2 2 8 30
=19 Jason Lezak USA M 4 2 2 8 30
23 Roland Matthes East Germany M 4 2 2 8 30
=24 Johnny Weissmuller USA M 5 0 0 5 30
=24 Matt Grevers USA M 4 2 0 6 28
=24 Charles Daniels USA M 4 1 2 7 28
=24 Kosuke Kitajima Japan M 4 1 2 7 28
=28 Libby Trickett Australia F 4 1 2 7 28
=28 Murray Rose Australia M 4 1 1 6 27
=30 Dana Vollmer USA F 4 1 1 6 27
=30 Janet Evans USA F 4 1 0 5 26
=30 Yana Klochkova Ukraine F 4 1 0 5 26
=33 John Naber USA M 4 1 0 5 26
=33 Jon Olsen USA M 4 0 1 5 25
=33 Tamás Darnyi Hungary M 4 0 0 4 24
=36 Lenny Krayzelburg USA M 4 0 0 4 24
=36 Vladimir Salnikov Soviet Union M 4 0 0 4 24

notes: initial data from wikipedia of multiple Olympic gold medalists (with at least 4 gold medals, including results from 2016). For the ranking order, we have used the Topend Sports Weighted Ranking System.

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