HALL OF FAME | Swimming

Paralympic Games Beijing 2008, Women's Swimming - Erin Popovich (USA)

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OLYMPIC & PARALYMPIC SWIMMING

Swimming made its first debut into the Olympics at the very first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. The sport has appeared in every Summer Olympics since then. Women’s swimming events were introduced at the 1912 Stockholm Games.

Swimming events took place in open waters up until the London 1908 Games, when they were moved to indoor pools. Men’s and women’s swimming events include the 50-, 100-, 200-, 400-, 800-, 1500-metre freestyle; the 100- and 200-metre backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly; 200- and 400-metre individual medley; 4×100- and 4×200-metre freestyle relay and 4×100-metre medley relay.

The USA has dominated in aquatic sports for decades, partially due to the large number of swimming events that give swimmers the opportunity to medal when competing in multiple events. Michael Phelps was one of the most decorated swimmers in Olympic history with 23 gold medals and a total of 28 medals. Other famous Olympic swimmers include Mark Spitz and Kristin Otto.

Swimming has also been part of the Summer Paralympic Games since 1960. It’s one of the largest sports at the Paralympics with 140 events covering distances from 50- to 400-metres, plus 4×50- and 4×100-metre relays. Trischa Zorn is one of the most decorated female para swimmers of all time. Competing in the blind swimming events, Zorn won 41 gold medals, with a total of 55 medals. Other famous names include Erin Popovich and Elizabeth Scott.

Swimming Hall of Fame Athletes

Amy Van Dyken

Swimmer Amy Van Dyken overcame asthma to win six Olympic gold medals. In the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, she became the first American woman to win four gold medals in a single Olympics.

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Charles Daniels

Charles Daniels is generally credited with modernizing the forward crawl to the freestyle stroke; he won four Olympic gold medals at the St Louis 1904 Olympic Games and London 1908 Olympic Games.

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Dara Torres

Dara Torres was nicknamed “Mom” by U.S. Olympic teammates at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games where at age 41 she set three American records in winning three silver medals.

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Debbie Meyer

16-year-old Debbie Meyer overcame asthma and set Olympic records in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle as she won three gold medals at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games.

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Don Schollander

Swimmer Don Schollander won four gold medals at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, the most by an American in a single Olympics in 28 years. He won three more in the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games.

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Donna de Varona

Donna de Varona made her Olympic debut as a 13-year-old at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games, winning a relay gold medal, and won two more gold medals at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games.

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Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku introduced a powerful style of swimming, winning five medals (three gold) over three Olympic Games. He then became a surfing ambassador to the world, popularizing that sport.

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Erin Popovich

Swimmer Erin Popovich is a three-time Paralympian; 14 of her 19 Paralympic medals were golds. She is a two-time winner of the ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability.

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Sydney 2000 Olympic Games

Gary Hall Jr.

Gary Hall Jr. was known for his showman-like nature and his fast speeds in the pool. Often arriving in a patriotic robe and boxing shorts, Hall won 10 Olympic medals, five gold, over three Olympic Games.

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Helene Madison

“Queen” Helene Madison was one of the first American female swimming stars, winning two individual gold medals and the 4×100-meter freestyle relay gold at the Los Angeles 1932 Olympic Games.

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Janet Evans

Janet Evans competed in three Olympics and won four gold medals. She will never forget passing the torch to Muhammad Ali to light the Olympic Flame at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.

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Jenny Thompson

Swimmer Jenny Thompson is the most decorated American female in Olympic history, winning 12 medals over the course of four Olympic Games: eight gold, three silver and one bronze.

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John Morgan

A competitive swimmer, John Morgan lost his eyesight as a teenager after an accident while working out. He eventually got back in the pool and won 15 Paralympic medals, 13 of them gold.

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John Naber

At the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games, John Naber won four gold medals: 100- and 200-meter backstroke, 4×100-meter medley relay, 4×200-meter freestyle relay — all in world-record time.

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Johnny Weissmuller

Johnny Weissmuller took up swimming in an attempt to build stamina after contracting polio as a youngster. He won five Olympic gold medals before finding Hollywood stardom.

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Mark Spitz at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games

Mark Spitz

After falling short of his goals at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games, Mark Spitz won seven gold medals in eight days at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games, setting a world record in each event he entered.

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Mary T. Meagher

Mary T. Meagher set her first world record before she began high school and Madame Butterfly, as she was known, won three gold medals at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games.

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Matt Biondi

Matt Biondi was a late bloomer before finding his stride and leaving his mark as one of the most accomplished swimmers of all time, with eight Olympic gold medals, two silvers and one bronze.

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1984 Rowdy Gaines

Rowdy Gaines

“Swimming’s Greatest Ambassador,” Rowdy Gaines tried lots of other sports before falling in love with swimming and winning three gold medals at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games.

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Shirley Babashoff

Shirley Babashoff won three Olympic gold medals and six silver medals, but might be better known for her willingness to speak out against suspected doping by East German swimmers.

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Tracy Caulkins

A swimmer who excelled at every stroke, Tracy Caulkins won gold medals in the 200- and 400-meter individual medley races as well as the 4×100 medley relay at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games.

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Notable moments in Swimming and Para swimming

EXPLORE HALL OF FAME ATHLETES BY SPORT