Tokyo Olympics 2021: The greatest swimmers in history ranked, featuring Phelps, Thorpe & Lochte

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This week on Jake Humphrey's High Performance Podcast, one of the greatest Olympians of all time Ian Thorpe was the special guest for an Olympics special episode ahead of the Games getting underway in Tokyo next week. 

The Torpedo was known for his greatness in swimming, racking up medals left, right and centre during his competitive days, and whilst on the topic, Topend Sports have released a list of the greatest swimmers to ever compete at an Olympic Games.

Speaking on the podcast, Thorpe opened up about his mentality going into an Olympic Games, and stated that it was his burning desire to be better than everyone in the water.

He said: "It was quite simple, I strived to be perfect in the water. And I modified my stroke.
Everything that I did to be operative would change that."

Read more: The High Performance Podcast hub

Greatest Swimmers in Olympic History

First on the list is American, and arguably the greatest swimmer of all time, Michael Phelps, with a rating of 146 and 23 gold medals to his name. No one could ever come close to reaching his overall medals of 28.


Second on the list is fellow American Mark Spitz. He has been given a ranking of 57 for his 11 medals and nine of them being gold.

Third on the list is the greatest female swimmer of all time Jenny Thompson. The American was rated 55 for her eight gold medals and 12 medals overall.

Matt Biondi is fourth on the list with a rating of 53. The American also won eight gold medals and had a total of 11 medals.

Ryan Lochte is ranked fifth on the list with a rating of 45. Half of the medals Lochte won at the Olympics have been gold.


Gary Hall Jr is ranked sixth on the list with a rating of 38. He won five gold medals out of the 10 total he had won in his career.

Ian Thorpe, the star of the episode, ranked seventh on the list with a rating of 37. Throughout his illustrious Olympic career, the Australian managed to picked up five gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal.

Later on during his appearance on the podcast, Thorpe revealed why he decided to walk away from the sport at such a young age for the first time, and he put it down to other factors away from the actual swimming.

He said: "It was less about swimming up and down a pool that it became responding to media and things like that.


"The context of my sport changed, where it never existed before. I never thought that there was an athlete in swimming that would have to go through that. And so I'd never prepared for, and for me as someone that's quite private, it became a struggle and it was more significant than anything else that I could do in the pool where I decided that."

Rounding up the top 10, Dara Torres, Amy Van Dyken and Kristin Otto all ranked equal eighth on the list.

The Americans and the German had an equal rating of 36. However, Otto and Van Dyken only won six medals in their career, but all six were gold medals, so that's not bad.

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