Longest Lived Swimming Olympic Records

A few months ago we looked at what are the longest lived Olympic records in track & field athletics. As we noted at the time, Olympic records can only be set in certain sports. At the Summer Games, this includes athletics (track & field), swimming, shooting, weightlifting, archery, and Olympic bests are usually considered now in rowing and canoeing. At the Winter Games, the measured sports are speed skating and short-track speed skating, with the best jumps measured in ski jumping.

Let’s look at swimming today and see what the longest-lived Olympic records are in this sport. And we have to make some assumptions, as we commonly do. We’re going to consider marks that have lasted the most Olympics, because the gap from 1936-48 and 1912-20 artificially made records last longer that were set in 1912 or 1932-36. So we’ll consider Olympics Between (OlyBT below) and Years Between (YrsGap below). Also, some marks were set a number of Olympics ago but are still the best on record. We’ll consider all of those to last until 2016 (at a minimum, that is true).

Given that, here are all the swimming Olympic records that have lasted 12+ years or 3 or more Olympics. Note that swim records turn over relatively quickly, and do not last as long as the track & field records, in general. The men’s list is first.

Event Mark Athlete/Team NOC Year OlyBT YrGap
50 m free 21.91 Aleksandr Popov EUN 1992 4 16
1500 m free 19:12.4 Kuzuo Kitamura JPN 1932 3 20
100 m free 48.63 Matt Biondi USA 1988 3 12
400 m free 3:40.59 Ian Thorpe AUS 2000 3 12
1500 m free 14:58.27 Vladimir Salnikov URS 1980 3 12
1500 m free 14:43.48 Kieren Perkins AUS 1992 3 12
200 m breast 2:10.16 Mike Barrowman USA 1992 3 12
100 m fly 54.27 Mark Spitz USA 1972 3 12
200 m IM 2:07.17 Gunnar Larsson SWE 1972 3 12
4×100 m free relay 3:26.42 United States USA 1972 3 12
100 m back 1:05.9 Adolph Kiefer USA 1936 2 16

Now for the women’s list, again for all records lasting 12+ years or 3 or more Olympics.

Event Mark Athlete/Team NOC Year OlyBT YrGap
200 m free 1:57.65 Heike Friedrich GDR 1988 5 20
400 m free 4:03.85 Janet Evans USA 1988 5 20
400 m IM 4:36.29 Petra Schneider GDR 1980 5 20
200 m back 2:07.06 Krisztina Egerszegi HUN 1992 4 16
200 m fly 2:06.90 Mary T. Meagher USA 1984 4 16
100 m free 54.79 Barbara Krause GDR 1980 3 12
800 m free 8:20.20 Janet Evans USA 1988 3 12
100 m back 1:00.86 Rica Reinisch GDR 1980 3 12
100 m fly 56.61 Inge de Bruijn NED 2000 3 12
200 m IM 2:23.07 Shane Gould AUS 1972 3 12
100 m free 1:05.9 Rie Mastenbroek NED 1936 1 12
400 m free 5:26.4 Rie Mastenbroek NED 1936 1 12
100 m back 1:16.6 Nida Senff NED 1936 1 12
200 m breast 3:01.9 Hideko Maehata JPN 1936 1 12
4×100 m free relay 4:36.0 The Netherlands NED 1936 1 12

And now we’ll go event-by-event, looking at the longest-lived Olympic swimming records in each event – men followed by the women.

Event Mark Athlete/Team NOC Year OlyBT YrsBT
50 m free 21.91 Aleksandr Popov EUN 1992 4 16
100 m free 48.63 Matt Biondi USA 1988 3 12
100 m free 57.5 Masanori Yusa JPN 1936 1 12
200 m free 1:46.70 Yevgeny Sadovy EUN 1992 2 8
200 m free 1:42.96 Michael Phelps USA 2008 2 8
400 m free 3:40.59 Ian Thorpe AUS 2000 3 12
400 m free 5:24.4 George Hodgson CAN 1912 2 12
400 m free 4:44.5 Jack Medica USA 1936 1 12
1500 m free 19:12.4 Kuzuo Kitamura JPN 1932 3 20
1500 m free 14:58.27 Vladimir Salnikov URS 1980 3 12
1500 m free 14:43.48 Kieren Perkins AUS 1992 3 12
1500 m free 22:00.0 George Hodgson CAN 1912 2 12
100 m back 1:05.9 Adolph Kiefer USA 1936 2 16
100 m back 1:08.2 George Kojac USA 1928 2 8
100 m back 55.49 John Naber USA 1976 2 8
100 m back 53.86 Jeff Rouse USA 1992 2 8
200 m back 1:59.19 John Naber USA 1976 2 8
200 m back 1:58.99 Rick Carey USA 1984 2 8
200 m back 1:58.47 Martín López-Zubero ESP 1992 2 8
100 m breast 1:03.11 John Hencken USA 1976 2 8
100 m breast 1:01.65 Steve Lundquist USA 1984 2 8
200 m breast 2:10.16 Mike Barrowman USA 1992 3 12
200 m breast 3:01.8 Walter Bathe GER 1912 2 12
200 m breast 2:41.5 Tetsuo Hamuro JPN 1936 1 12
100 m fly 54.27 Mark Spitz USA 1972 3 12
200 m fly 2:06.6 Kevin Berry AUS 1964 2 8
200 m fly 1:59.23 Mike Bruner USA 1976 2 8
200 m fly 1:56.26 Melvin Stewart USA 1992 2 8
200 m fly 1:52.03 Michael Phelps USA 2008 2 8
200 m IM 2:07.17 Gunnar Larsson SWE 1972 3 12
400 m IM 4:45.4 Dick Roth USA 1964 2 8
400 m IM 4:14.23 Tamás Darnyi HUN 1992 2 8
400 m IM 4:03.84 Michael Phelps USA 2008 2 8
4×100 m free relay 3:26.42 United States USA 1972 3 12
4×200 m free relay 7:52.1 United States USA 1964 2 8
4×200 m free relay 7:23.22 United States USA 1976 2 8
4×200 m free relay 7:11.95 Unified Team EUN 1992 2 8
4×200 m free relay 7:07.05 Australia AUS 2000 2 8
4×200 m free relay 6:58.56 United States USA 2008 2 8
4×200 m free relay 8:51.5 Japan JPN 1936 1 12
4×100 m medley relay 3:42.22 United States USA 1976 2 8
4×100 m medley relay 3:29.34 United States USA 2008 2 8
Event Mark Athlete/Team NOC Year OlyBT YrGap
50 m free 24.79 Yang Wenyi CHN 1992 2 8
50 m free 24.13 Inge de Bruijn NED 2000 2 8
100 m free 54.79 Barbara Krause GDR 1980 3 12
100 m free 1:05.9 Rie Mastenbroek NED 1936 1 12
200 m free 1:57.65 Heike Friedrich GDR 1988 5 20
400 m free 4:03.85 Janet Evans USA 1988 5 20
400 m free 5:26.4 Rie Mastenbroek NED 1936 1 12
800 m free 8:20.20 Janet Evans USA 1988 3 12
100 m back 1:00.86 Rica Reinisch GDR 1980 3 12
100 m back 1:16.6 Nida Senff NED 1936 1 12
200 m back 2:07.06 Krisztina Egerszegi HUN 1992 4 16
100 m breast 1:07.95 Tanya Bogomilova-Dangalakova BUL 1988 2 8
100 m breast 1:07.02 Penny Heyns RSA 1996 2 8
100 m breast 1:05.17 Leisel Jones AUS 2008 2 8
200 m breast 2:29.54 Lina Kačiušytė URS 1980 2 8
200 m breast 3:01.9 Hideko Maehata JPN 1936 1 12
100 m fly 56.61 Inge de Bruijn NED 2000 3 12
200 m fly 2:06.90 Mary T. Meagher USA 1984 4 16
200 m IM 2:23.07 Shane Gould AUS 1972 3 12
400 m IM 4:36.29 Petra Schneider GDR 1980 5 20
4×100 m free relay 3:42.71 German Democratic Republic GDR 1980 2 8
4×100 m free relay 4:36.0 The Netherlands NED 1936 1 12
4×200 m free relay 7:59.87 United States USA 1996 1 4
4×200 m free relay 7:57.80 United States USA 2000 1 4
4×200 m free relay 7:53.42 United States USA 2004 1 4
4×200 m free relay 7:44.31 Australia AUS 2008 1 4
4×200 m free relay 7:42.92 United States USA 2012 1 4
4×100 m medley relay 4:06.67 German Democratic Republic GDR 1980 2 8
4×100 m medley relay 4:02.54 United States USA 1992 2 8

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