SOURCE: USS SwimFactPact (unedited)
USS Logo
Go to Swimming Section

Notable U.S. Swimmers:
Past and Present

(B: 1/31/57-)

She earned the most Olympic medals by any U.S. woman in history with eight. In the 1972 Olympics, she earned silver medals in the 100m free and 200m free and a gold in a relay. In the 1976 Olympics, she earned silvers in the 200m free, 400m free and 800m free, as well as a relay gold and a relay silver. She has been a part of 11 world records, six individual and 17 American records. At the 1973 World Championships, she won gold in the 200m free and 400m free. In the 1975 World Championships, she won gold in both the 200m free and 400m free. She was named the 1974 Sportswoman of the Year.

(B: 12/04/68-)

Won the gold medal in the 200m breaststroke with a world record at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He broke the world record in that event six times following the 1988 Olympic Games where he finished sixth. He is the only three-time recipient of the USS Swimmer of the Year award (1989-90, '91)

(B:10/10/56- )

Won three gold medals in the 1972 Olympics in the 100m and 200m backstroke and as a member of the 4x100m medley relay. Apart from Shane Gould, the 15-year old Belote was the only woman swimmer to win more than one individual title in Munich. In finals at Olympic Trials she was a little known outsider, but beat the U.S. record holder, Susie Atwood, in the 100m back and then the 200m back in a world record time of a 2:21.77. At the 1972 Olympics she again set the world record in the 200m backstroke in a 2:19.19 and went on in 1973 to win the 200m backstroke at World Championships. In 1976 she made the Olympic team for a second time and placed fifth in the 200m backstroke in Montreal.

(B: 10/8/65-)

Earned the most medals of any Olympian in history with 11, tying Mark Spitz and shooter Carl Osburn. With teammate Tom Jager, Biondi became the first U.S. swimmer to win gold medals in three Olympiads and to win the same Olympic event three times. Each swam on the 1984, '88 and '92 winning 400m freestyle relay. He was one of only six U.S. Olympic male swimmers to compete on three Olympic teams. He broke seven world records and 16 American records. He earned 15 international individual titles, 17 U.S. national titles and eight NCAA national tides. He is the current American record holder in the 100 and 200 freestyle-both yards and meters.

(B: 2/27/02 - D: 5/6/78)

Won three golds in the 1920 Olympics in the 100m and 300m freestyle and as a member of the 4x100m freestyle relay. She was the first American woman to win an Olympic swimming title and also the first woman, from any country, to win three gold medals. In each of her Olympic victories in Antwerp, she set a new world record. She turned professional in 1922 and had a successful career as athlete and coach. She was often in the news for incidents related to swimming and in 1919 only public opinion prevented her from being jailed for swimming "nude". She merely removed her stockings before going for a swim at Manhattan beach, but in 1919 this was considered "nudity".

(B: 1/11/63- )

Considered by many to be the greatest swimmer of all time. She qualified as a member of the 1980 Olympic Team that boycotted the Games held in Moscow. Despite this letdown in her career she continued to swim competively and went on to win three gold medals in the 1984 Olympics in the 200m IM, 400m IM and a relay gold. She held world records in the 200m fly, the 400m IM, and broke her record in the 200m IM three times.

She held American records in the 100m breast from 1977 through 1981, the 200m breast from 1977 through 1981, the 200m butterfly in 1978, the 400m IM from 1977 through 1984, and she still owns the record for the 200m IM that she set in 1984 but has held since 1977. She also owned a few short course U.S. Open records too: the 100y free, 500y free, 200y back, 100y breast, 200y breast, 200y IM, and the 400y IM, the last two she still holds. She is the only swimmer ever, man or woman, to own American records in every stroke. In 1990 USA Today named her "Swimmer of the Decade."

(B: 2/7/10 - D: 4/23/83)

Attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and while a first-year law student, he won a place on the 1932 Olympic Swim Team and won the gold in the 400m freestyle. He set 16 world and 35 national records during his swimming career. At the 1932 Olympics he was the only U.S. gold medalist in men's swimming and after the Games, he was signed by Paramount, who was looking for a rival to Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan at MGM. The first of his 175 movies was "King of the Jungle" in which he played the role of Kasta, the Lion Man.

(B: 3/6/26- )

Was the premier freestyler of her era. She won two gold medals at the 1948 Olympics in the 400m free and as a member of the 800m free relay. She won 34 National gold medals and won 26 individual golds in her career. Surprisingly out of all these career victories she only set two world records. She held them in the now discontinued events of the 880y freestyle and the 440y freestyle. Out of nine AAU National meets, she won the High Point Trophy seven times. Curtis was one of the best known sportswomen of her time and was the first female recipient of the Sullivan Award for top amateur athlete.

(B: 3/24/1885 - D: 8/9/73)

Was the first great American swimmer. He won four Olympic gold medals and 33 US National championships. He was the first American to win an Olympic Games swimming event. He won the 220y&440y freestyle at the 1904 Olympic Games, the 100m free at the 1906 Olympic games and the 100m free in the 1908 Olympic Games. He was named the 1909 "North American Athlete of the Year" by the Helms athletic board. He held every world freestyle record from 25y to 1 mile. He is the man credited with evolving the American crawl from the two-beat Australian crawl and the man who gave freestyle speed swimming.

(B: 4/26/47- )

Won 37 individual national championship medals, including 18 golds and three national high point awards. She held World Records in 8 long course events and American records in the in 10 short course evens. She was the youngest American on the 1960 Olympic team and won two gold medals in 1964. She was considered the "Queen of Swimming" in her day. In 1964 she was voted America's Outstanding Woman Athlete, Outstanding American Female Swimmer and received many more awards. She was the first woman on network TV in the sports broadcasting field in 1965.

(B: 10/23/06- )

In the 1924 Olympics won a gold as a member of the 4x100m free relay and two bronzes in the 100m and 400m freestyles. She is best remembered as the youngest woman ever to set a world record in the now discontinued event of the 880y freestyle. She broke a total of 9 World Records during her career, 7 records of various distances during one 500m swim at Brighton Beach in 1922. She held 29 US National and World Records from 1921 - 1925. Turning professional in 1925 she became the first woman to swim the English Channel. Her time of 14 hours and 34 minutes broke the men's record for the crossing.

She went on to become the female counterpart to Johnny Weissmuller in a series of Tarzan movies.

(B: 2/18/37- )

Won two golds in the 1960 Olympics as a member of the 4x200m freestyle relay and 4x100m freestyle relay. His career was riddled with injury and illness. He swam in the 1960 trials only six days after an appendectomy. A favorite in the 100m free, he finished fourth. This was only good enough to put him on a relay. His quick recovery led the teams to a winning anchor legs and World Records in both records. His career also included five AAU titles and a gold medal finish in the 1958 Pan American Games.

(B: 5/27/57 - )

Bruce, younger brother of Steve, won two golds in the 1974 Olympics in the 200m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle relay, both in world record times. In his career he won nine AAU titles and six NCAA championships. In 1975 he emerged as a top American swimmer after placing second in the 200m and 400m freestyle at world championships. Later that year, June 1975, he set his first world record after posting a new best time twice in one day in the 200m freestyle. In August of the same year he went on to deprive his brother of the 200m I.M. world record in an AAU competition.

(B: 12/21/52 - )

Steve, five years older than his brother Bruce, was the '76 Olympic bronze medalist in the 200m I.M. He specialized in the I.M., winning the 200m and 400m at both the 1971 and 1975 Pan American Games. In 1974 he tied David Wilkie's 200m I.M. World record before brother Bruce took over the record in 1975. Apart from being a medalist in the 1972 Olympics, he also swam the 400 I.M. in 1972 and 1976, placing in finals on both occasions.

(B: 2/17/59- )

Was a member of the 1980 Olympic Swim Team that boycotted the Olympics held in Moscow then came back to win three gold medals in the 1984 Olympic games in the 100m freestyle, the 400m free relay and the 400m medley relay. He held world and American records in the 100&200 meter freestyle and, the world record in the 100 meter freestyle from 1981 through 1985, the 200 meter freestyle record in 1980 and broke his own record in 1982, holding that record through 1983. He set the American record in the 100 meter free for the first of three times in 1980 and held it until 1985. He also set the American record in the 200 meter free for the first of two times in 1980 and held it through 1984.

(B: 4/02/59- )

Double gold medalist in the 1976 Olympics in the 400m and the 1500m freestyle. He was legendary for his tireless capacity in training long-distance. At '76 trials he broke both his World Records before breaking them again at the Olympics. As a high school student at the time in Mission Viejo, he went on to attend UCLA. He made the 1980 team, but the boycott prevented the match up between Goodell and Russian great Vladimir Salnikov in the 1500m freestyle.

(B: 8/7/51- )

Set 10 World Records in his career; eight in the I.M. events, one in butterfly and one in the backstroke. He won 23 AAU, seven NCAA championships while competing for Indiana, and posted 23 American records. He competed in three Olympics and medalled in each. Although his career shows a forte in the I.M. events, he medalled in two fly events at the Olympics. He won a silver in 1968 in the 400m I.M., a silver in 1972 in the 200m butterfly and a bronze in 1976 in the 100m butterfly. At his third Olympic Games in 1976 he was given the elected honor to carry the U.S. flag in opening ceremonies.

(B: 12/06/13-)

Won 29 National Championships. In 1927 she won nine National golds in the individual medley. She held six World Records in the backstroke and her 100y backstroke times held up for 16 years in the US. She was a member of the 1928 Olympic Team and won a gold medal in the backstroke at the 1932 Olympic Games. She was expected to do well in the 1936 Olympics but was disqualified for sipping champagne with officials on the boat to Germany while still in training. She became the swimming correspondent in Germany at the Olympics. Later she went on to marry noted band leader Billy Rose.

(B: 8/24/1890 - D: 1/22/68)

Was the first of long line of truly great Hawaiian swimmers. In 1911 in an open water swim he bettered the 100y freestyle record by almost five seconds. He was a three time gold and two time silver medalist in the 1912, 1920 and 1924 Olympics. In 1912 he won a gold in the 100m freestyle and a silver on the 4x200m freestyle relay, in 1920 won the gold in the 100m freestyle and a gold as a member of the 4x200m freestyle relay and in 1924 won a silver in the 100m freestyle. Although viewed with skepticism by the AAU, Kahanamoku went on to set numerous world records. He won his second Olympic title in 1920 on his 30th birthday, but his career was far from over. He won a silver medal in 1924, was an alternate on the 1928 team and in 1932, after 10 years in Hollywood, was an alternate to the U.S. Olympic water polo team. Duke has the distinction of having the longest name in Olympic history; his full name is Duke Paoa Kahinu Makoe Hulikohoa Kahanamoku.

(B: 6/27/18- )

Was a gold medalist in the 1936, 100m backstroke event at the Olympics. He was the first man to break one minute in the 100y backstroke. In his career he set 17 World Records between 1935 and 1944, none of which were broken until four year after he retired from swimming in 1946. He went on after his career in swimming to serve in World War II as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He conducted a survey for them of the number of shipwrecks and documented the number of GI deaths from drowning. As a result he was put in charge of swimming instruction for the entire U.S. Navy. He later formed his own company involved in the manufacturing of swimming pool accessories and other swim-related items.

(B: 7/03/40- )

Was a gold medalist in the 1960 Olympics in the 4x100m freestyle relay and a silver medalist in the 100m freestyle. His silver medal in the 100m freestyle was one of the most controversial Olympic swim races ever. He was given a second-place finish against Australia's John Devitt. They touched almost simultaneously with all watches in his favor, but the President of the International Swimming Federation gave the win to Devitt. Larson, the first man to break one minute for the 100m butterfly, won AAU titles in the freestyle, fly and I.M. events, setting five world and twelve U.S. records.

(B: 2/20/61- )

Was a member of the 1980 Olympic Swim Team that boycotted the Olympics. He won two gold medals in the 1984 Olympics in the 100 meter breaststroke and the 400 meter medley relay. He was the first swimmer to break 2 minutes in the 200 yard breaststroke. He won every 100 yard breaststroke event he entered from 1980-1983. At 17 he broke his first world record and in his career he broke world and American records on 15 occasions. He first broke the 100 meter breaststroke world record in 1982 and held it until 1989 with the exception of one month in 1984 when John Moffet held it. He also held the world record in the 200m IM in 1978. He set American records in the 100m and 200m breast and the 200m IM.

(B: 10/27/64- )

Set her first record in the 200m butterfly in 1979 and became known as "Madame Butterfly" shortly after. She became the third woman in swimming history to make three Olympic teams. She was on the 1980 Olympic Team that boycotted the Olympics. She won three gold medals in the 1984 Olympic Games in the 100m and 200m butterfly and the 400m medley relay. In the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul she won the bronze in the 200m fly. She won six NCAA individual awards. She still owns the world and American records she set in 1981 in the 100m and 200m butterfly, which are swimming's most enduring records. She also held seven World Records and eight American records. She was a United States Olympic Committee Athlete Representative and sat on the US Swimming Board of Directors. In 1993, she won the U.S. Swimming/ Phillips 66 20th Anniversary Award for the most outstanding performance at a U.S. Nationals.

(B: 8/14/52- )

Was the first woman to win three individual gold medals in a single Olympics. Despite her handicapp of having a stomach infection at the 1968 Games held in Mexico City she went on to win the 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle and the 800m freestyle. In her career she held 24 American records and 15 world records. She was named the 1967, '68, and '69 "World Swimmer of the Year" and received the Sullivan Award for top amateur athlete in 1968. She was the first woman to swim the 1500m free under 18 minutes, the 400m free under 4:30, the 500y under 5 minutes and the 1650y under 17 minutes.

(B: 1/24/55- )

Won three golds in the 100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay and the 4x100m freestyle relay and a bronze in the 200m freestyle at the 1976 Olympics held in Montreal, Canada. In the 1973 World Championships he gained stardom after winning two individual golds and three more as a member of the winning relay team. He set two World Records for the 100m freestyle in 1975 and bettered his world record tame in both prelims and finals at the Montreal Olympics. Not only were his records broken but barriers in the event also when he became the first man to swim 100m freestyle in under 50 seconds.

(B: 12/5/64-)

He was second in the 100m butterfly at the 1984 Olympics, where he was favored to win. In 1986, he set the world record in the 100m fly, which stands to this day. Then in 1988, Morales unexpectedly did not make the Olympic team, finishing third in two events. He retired from swimming to attend law school at Cornell University. In the summer of 1991, he returned to the pool and went on to win Olympic gold medals in the 100m butterfly and the medley relay. He was named the 1992 U.S. Olympic Committee's SportsMan of the Year.

(B: 1/20/56- )

Won four golds and a silver medal in the 1976 Olympic Games. His Olympic golds in the 100m and 200m backstroke were in world record times. He also won a silver in 200m free and was on two gold winning relays, both in world record times. In 1976 he was named "Male Swimmer of the Year" and also Southern California Athlete of the Year. At the 1977 Pan-Am Games he won golds in 100&200m back and the 500m free. He received the 1977 Sullivan Award and the Trophy of the International Committee for Fair Play, the first time an American swimmer was honored. He was the first man to swim the 200m back under 2 minutes, the 200y back under 1 :50, the logy back under 50 seconds and the first to go under 56 seconds in the 100m back. He was a member of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games Organizing Committee. He now works as a commentator for ABC Sports.

(B: 9/26/47- )

Won a gold in the 1964 Olympics in the 400m I.M. The night before the finals of this race Roth was stricken by an attack of appendicitis, but refused an operation. He went on to swim finals and won the gold. At the start of the race in the 100m butterfly leg he fell far behind his competators. Roth never gained the lead until the final 100m freestyle leg. In his career he won six outdoor AAU titles before retiring at the age of 19.

(B: 2/26/57- )

Won the gold in the 1972 Olympics in the 800m freestyle and the bronze in the 200m freestyle. She Was best known for her unpredictable performances and versatile ability. As the third ranked contender in the 800m freestyle event at the 1972 Olympics she ended up winning the event and setting a new World record. On the other hand as the top ranked qualifier for the 400m free for the U.S. she ended up only finishing sixth. She went on to the 1973 World Championships as the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 800m freestyle, but failed to win a medal. In the 200m freestyle as the U.S. second place qualifier she ended up winning. Finally, in the 400m freestyle as the World record holder she lost to team mate Heather Greenwood. Since the end of her career at Southern California University she has done commentary for swimming competitions on CBS.

(B: 2/10/50- )

Won nine golds, one silver, and one bronze in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics. In 1972 he became the first man to win 7 golds in one Olympics all in World Record times. He won five golds in the 1967 Pan-Am Games. He set 26 World Records, 24 National AAU Championships and 25 American Records. He held eight NCAA titles and was a 4-time NCAA Champion in 100y Butterfly. He won the Sullivan Award in 1971 and was named the 1972 "Swimmer of the Year". In 1991 he staged an unsuccessful comeback.

(B: 4/30/46- )

Was a five-time Olympic gold medalist. In 1964 he won the 100m freestyle and 400m freestyle individual events and was on the winning 4x100m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay teams. In the 1968 Olympics he was on the winning 4x200m freestyle relay and won a silver in the 200m freestyle. He was the first four gold medal winner at one Olympics, and would have won a fifth had the 200m freestyle been an Olympic event in 1964. In this event he set nine World Records between 1963 and 1968, and was the first man to break two minutes for that distance. In addition his career included eight World Records for the 400m freestyle and swam on eight world record breaking relay teams. He won 16 AAU titles and won two golds in the 1967 Pan American Games.

(B: 5/27/61- )

Best known as the first woman in history to be on four Olympic swimming teams (1976 '80, '84, and '88). She retired after the 1984 Olympics but returned to competition in 1987. She qualified for the team after Angel Meyers tested positive for steroid use at trials. She went on in the 1988 Olympics to tie for the bronze medal in the 50m freestyle. Her time made her the sixth-fastest female ever in the 50m freestyle and the second fastest American. Her career highlights also feature 15 USS National titles, 16 Collegiate titles, five gold medals at the 1981 World University Games, Five AIAW titles in 1980 and 1981 and four P66/USS SC Nats titles. Her college achievements earned her the Broderick Cup Award for top female collegiate athlete. Sterkle is currents the head women's swimming coach at the University of Texas.

(B: 1/22/52- )

Won the gold medal in the 1972 Olympics in the 200m butterfly in a world record time of 2:18.15 in Munich. She also swam the 100m backstroke in the 1972 games and finished fourth. She made another Olympic appearance in the 1976 finishing fourth in the 200m butterfly in Montreal in a new American record. Thornton was the head coach of women's swim team at the University of California at Berkeley and has since moved up to an administrative position with the University.

(B: 10/03/40- )

Won two golds in the 1960 Olympics in the 200m butterfly and the 4x200m freestyle relay. As a member of Indianapolis Aquatic Club at the 1959 Pan American Games he signed to attend Indiana University. At the Pan American Games he was a silver medalist in the 200m butterfly and went on to win the gold at the 1960 Olympics. At both meets he was also on the winning 4x200m freestyle relay team. He was a record breaker his entire career in freestyle and butterfly events, winning two AAU outdoor titles. He served as a Navy Seal during the Vietnam War and now coaches the Rio Saldo swim team.

(B: 1/03/44- )

Was a five-time gold medal winner at the 1959 Pan-American games. She went on to further her career achievements by winning three golds and a silver in the 1960 Olympics. Her 400m freestyle win at the 1960 games was not unexpected because at the U.S. Trials she had set a new world record of 4:44.5 to become the first woman to break the five-minute barrier. Besides her claim to fame as a five time Olympic medalist she was more properly known as the Baroness Von Saltza. Her grandfather, Count Philip, came to America at the turn of the century. Until this day she is sty recognized by her title name in the "Who's Who of Swedish Nobility".

(B: 6/02/04 - D: 1/84)

Won five gold medals at two Olympics. At the 1924 games he won the 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle and was on the winning 4x200m freestyle relay. At 1928 Games he won the 100m freestyle and was on the winning 4x200m freestyle relay. He set 51 World Records and won 52 National Championship gold medals in his career. He is the winner of 36 individual national titles. He never lost a race in his 10 years of amateur swimming at distances from 50 yards to 1/2 mile. His record in the 100y free of 51 seconds stood for 17 years. He also played on two US Olympic Water Polo Teams, of which the 1924 team won a bronze. After his career he became best known for his role as Tarzan on the silver screen.

Back to top