Every four years at the Olympic Games, the best swimmers from around the world gather in one location to demonstrate their prowess on the waters. They tread water with grace and elegance. Top swimmers perform their sport so well that they seem like they were born to swim. It’s hard to narrow down a definitive list of the best swimmers of all time, but the follow people make my top five.
When Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, he broke Mark Spitz record of seven gold medals at a single game and has a lifetime Olympic medal count of 16. At some moments in the different events, Phelps seems to smoke the competition. However, other events were nail biters; he won by a matter of seconds. In a few events, he had to depend on his teammates to win these medals. Phelps is the best swimmer of all time because his record-making streak.
Mark Spitz is one of the top swimmers of all time because his head his record of seven gold medals at a single Olympic Games for more than 30 years. He won these gold medals at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Spitz captured the seventh gold medal a few hours before Palestinian terrorist took 11 Israeli athletes, eventually killing them all. Official thought it was best for Spitz, a Jewish American, to leave the country. Besides breaking swimming records, he was the one good thing about an Olympics marred by tragedy.
Johnny Weissmuller is one of the top swimmers because he set 28 world records in varied swimming events. Not only did he compete in individual swimming events; he was a swimmer for the 1924 water polo team. He was able to participate in varied water sports because the Olympics of the past didn’t have as many swimming events as they have now. Many of his records stood for 17 years, when the Olympics added more swimming events. Weissmuller was also one of the first celebrities of the Olympics, endorsing men’s underwear and starring in movies. He co-starred with fellow swimmer Esther Williams and most famously as Tarzan. He is one of the top swimmers because he of his sports accomplishments and is celebrity status.
Nicknamed “The Thorpedo,” Ian Thorpe became one of the best swimmers of all time when he at the 2000 Sydney Olympics at the age of 17. The Australian-born swimmer raced in the 400m freestyle, winning the gold medal and breaking a world record set by him. He became a hero in his country. With his five gold medals and other titles, Thorpe is the top swimmer in Australia because he has the most titled of any other Australian swimmer.
Dara Torres is one of the top swimmers in the world because she became the first American swimmer to participate in five Olympics and, with 12 Olympic medals, she ties with Jenny Thompson for all-time Olympic medals for female swimmers. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, she proved that age doesn’t have to stop you from being good at something.
Other names could have made this list, but these are some of the best swimmers of all time because they impressed people with their skills. People who had no interested in watching swimming were excited about the sports. They became the top swimmers because they set records that future swimmers will try breaking.