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Top 5 greatest male swimmers of all time

Pieter van den Hoogenband
  • Professional swimming requires a lot of physical fitness and energy capabilities. And that explains why most swimmers spend the majority of their time practising. 
  • Swimming is one of the sports people focus on at the Olympic games. The best swimmers emerge with several medals at every Olympic. 
  • Michael Phelps is arguably the greatest swimmer of all time. The American international is the most decorated Olympian, having won more medals than 161 countries. 

Swimming is one of the most popular sports at the Olympics. The sport requires a lot of energy capabilities and physical fitness.

Professional swimmers spend the majority of their time training. When it comes to competitive swimming, no swimmer is less than a fish. 

Competitive swimming involves varied distances in freestyle, backstroke, butterfly breaststroke and individual medley. Swimming each stroke requires different techniques to be a pro. 

Several professional swimmers have had their names recorded in the history books due to their achievements. This article will look at the top five greatest swimmers of all time. 

1. Michael Phelps 

Michael Phelps is arguably the most excellent swimmer the world has ever seen. The American international holds the record for the most gold medals won in a single Olympics. He won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic games.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps showing off his medals. Photo/ Pinterest.

Phelps is known as the fish of Olympic history. He is the most decorated Olympian of all time, having won more medals than 161 countries. 

“The Baltimore Bullet” won 59 medals in major international competitions at the Olympics, the Pan Pacific Championships and the World. He has 50 gold medals, seven silver and two bronze medals. 

Phelps also won several awards, including the World Swimmer of the Year six times. He also emerged as the best swimmer in America eight times. 

2. Mark Spitz

Mark Spitz, nicknamed Mark The Shark, is only behind Michael Phelps when the greatest swimmers are getting a mention. His record of most gold medals at an Olympic event lasted 36 years, from 1972 to 2008. 

Mark The Shark enjoyed great success as a professional swimmer between 1968 and 1972. During that period, he won nine Olympic gold medals, a silver medal and a bronze. Mark is in history as the third Olympian to win nine gold medals. 

He also won 41 Amateur Athletic Union titles, five Pan American golds and eight National Collegiate Athletic Association titles. Mark amazed the world at the 1972 Olympics in Munich when he won seven gold medals, all in world-record time. 

Apart from collecting several medals, the retired swimmer also won numerous individual awards. Mark was the world’s swimmer of the year in 1969, 1971 and 1972. 

3. Ian Thorpe 

During his professional swimming career, Ian Thorpe specialized in freestyle. However, he also competed in individual medley and backstroke. 

The Australian international emerged as the most successful athlete at the 2002 Olympic games. He won two three gold and two silver medals.

Ian Thorpe

Ian Thorpe. Photo/ The Courier Mail.

Thorpe has the record for most Olympic gold medals won by an Australian, five. He was the first to win six gold medals in one World Championship. He is also the first person to be named World Swimmer of the Year four times. 

4. Aleksandr Popov 

Aleksandr Vladimirovich Popov, popularly known as Aleksandr Popov, is undoubtedly the greatest sprint freestyle swimmer of all time.

He is the only male in Olympic games history to defend both the 50-metre and 100-metre freestyle titles at two consecutive Olympic games. He first won the gold medals at the 1992 Olympics and then repeated his two victories at the 1996 Olympic games. 

Aleksandr Popov has won a total of four gold and five silver medals at the Olympic games. He also won 21 gold, three silver and two bronze medals at the European Championships. The Russian international further has six gold, four silver and one bronze at the World Championships. 

5. Pieter van den Hoogenband 

Pieter van den Hoogenband is a former world record holder and a triple Olympic champion. The Flying Dutchman began competing at the Olympic games when he was 18. 

Throughout his career, van den Hoogenband won three gold, ten silver and four bronze medals at the Olympic games. He was named World Swimmer of the Year in 2002 and European Swimmer of the Year in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2004.

Pieter van den Hoogenband

Pieter Van Den Hoogenband. Photo/ Laureus.

Pieter continues to swim for fun after the end of his professional career. He serves as a swimming commentator and is a good friend of Ian Thorpe, one of his fierce rivals during his days as a professional swimmer

Abraham Odhiambo is an avid sports fan who loves to write about football, boxing and wrestling. He's a big supporter of Manchester United. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree in Media and Communication at Egerton University.

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