Post Olympics Rankings: Swimming World’s Top 25 Male Swimmers

Rankings After the Olympics: Top 25 Male Swimmers in the World of Swimming.

McKeown and McKeon, followed by Titmus, secured the first three positions on our women’s top 25 ranking. McKeon, the 27-year-old Australian, achieved seven medals at the Olympics, the highest number achieved by a female swimmer in a single Games, and claimed the title of the top female swimmer globally. Over the past few months, Katie Ledecky, Titmus, and McKeown have all been contenders for that position, but it was McKeon who emerged victorious. Additionally, McKeon attained individual gold in the 50 and 100 freestyle events.

In the annals of Olympic history, this swimmer accomplished a remarkable feat so uncommon that it had occurred merely thrice, accomplished solely by a duo of individuals. Undoubtedly, this was his defining moment in the realm of sports, although it may not have been his most successful competition in terms of medals and records. Nevertheless, his prodigious display in Tokyo served as a reaffirmation of his status, solidifying his position as the unrivaled top swimmer in the world since 2017. However, has his ranking on the men’s leaderboard changed?

The primary consideration for determining positions on this ranking was placement, however, it was the performances during the most significant instances at the Tokyo Games that resulted in numerous narrow margins, as is customary.

1. Caeleb Dressel, United States of America.

Dressel’s journey at the Tokyo Olympics culminated in him living up to the hype. He became the third man in history, after Mark Spitz (1972) and Michael Phelps (2004 and 2008), to win three individual golds at a single Olympics. His victory in the men’s 50m freestyle was twice as big as any other in Olympic history. While his performances in the 100m butterfly (beating Kristof Milak) and the 100m freestyle (holding off Kyle Chalmers) required big efforts, he seemed destined to eventually win gold in all his individual events, as he had swept all three at the 2017 World Championships. The day after his record-breaking swim in the 100m butterfly, Dressel swam the fastest split in the Americans’ medley relay, ensuring they wouldn’t relinquish their lead and broke the world record in the process. As Dressel captured golds in the medley and freestyle relays, leading the Americans to victory in the 400m freestyle relay, there was no doubt that he would land the top spot in Tokyo.

2. Kristof Milak from Hungary.

In the Championships World of 2009, Milorad Cavic and Phelps swam in an epic duel. Phelps, the second-fastest man in history, swam ahead of Cavic with a final mark of 49.68. Instead of saving his amazing effort for the fly 100, where he could have potentially crushed the world record, Cavic decided to focus on the race and not miss out on seeing Milak take a shot at his world record. Milak broke Phelps’ record from the 2008 Olympics, becoming the second man to ever swim faster than him. In the men’s event in Tokyo, Milak’s victory margin of 2.48 seconds in the fly 200 was untouchable in any other event. After winning two gold medals in the butterfly 100 and butterfly 200, Milak earns the second spot on this list of Olympic medalists.

3. Adam Peaty, from the United Kingdom.

In both instances, with a time significantly less than 57, he also played a crucial role in Great Britain’s achievement of two relay medals: a gold in the mixed 400 medley relay and a silver in the men’s 400 medley relay, at this year’s Olympics. However, he should not be discredited as a one-event wonder, as he is undeniably one of the greatest swimmers in history, particularly in that specific event. Since his international debut in 2014, Peaty has never been defeated in the 100 breaststroke in any long course race. Although he fell short of his world record of 56.88, his performance of 57.37 was still significantly better than anyone else’s best effort. Winning his second consecutive Olympic gold in the 100 breaststroke in Tokyo, he now holds a lead of less than a second over any other swimmer in history in this event for the first time since 2016. Arno Kamminga, a Dutchman, also achieved a sub-58 time in the 100 breaststroke, joining Peaty in this accomplishment in 2021.

4. Evgeny Rylov, from Russia.

Rylov, Evgeny, has held the title of the world’s top 200 backstroker since earning an Olympic bronze in the event in 2016, and now he is undisputedly the best backstroke swimmer in the world. Kolesnikov, a fellow countryman, was narrowly beaten by Rylov with a time of 51.98, and Rylov secured the highly anticipated gold in the 100 backstroke. Xu Jiayu, a two-time world champion, and Ryan Murphy, the defending gold medalist and world-record holder, were also competing in that race, but Rylov proved himself as a remarkable performer in crucial moments. In the four-lap race, he triumphed by nearly a second, finishing at an impressive time of 1:53.27. This outcome was not entirely surprising considering Rylov’s exceptional track record of fast 200 back performances over the past four years. Although his times in both races were only slightly off his personal bests by one and four hundredths, respectively, he still ranks among the top five in history.

5. Bobby Finke, United States of America.

Currently topping that list, but not the only one to join the ranks of the world’s top swimmers, Finke emerged as the most unexpected star to emerge from the Games. He flipped off the wall at the 1450-meter mark with a lead of seven tenths, coming home in 25.78 seconds to secure second place. Somehow, he was even better in the last 50 meters and everyone later realized that he was capable of dominating the 1500-meter freestyle. Then, Finke blasted past Paltrinieri Gregorio of Italy to touch gold, splitting an impressive 26.39 seconds. However, he was outpaced by a third of a second and had a lead of 1.52 seconds at the fourth turn. He sat in fifth place for most of the race and it was in the final 800 meters of the meet where he secured his first place finish. He had an outside chance of winning a medal in the 1500-meter freestyle, which was his best event. Finke, the 21-year-old American, was not on the predicted gold medal list for the Olympics. All four previous entrants on this list were expected to win gold.

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6. Duncan Scott, representing Great Britain.

Scott deserves a high placement on the podium in any event he participates in, as he was so good in both relays. He secured a silver medal with a time of 47.08 as the anchor leg in the men’s medley relay, and he anchored Great Britain to gold in the 800m freestyle relay with a time of 1:43.45. Scott now ranks seventh in history in both events. In the men’s 200m individual medley, Scott couldn’t quite catch China’s Shun Wang, who touched out him by four hundredths of a second in a furious charge on the last 50m. As Scott entered Tokyo as the slight favorite in the 200m freestyle, he put himself in a good position for gold by touching out his countryman Tom Dean. Scott won critical medals, including one gold, in both relays because he outperformed several swimmers who typically populate the top spots in individual events. Duncan Scott is among the top 25 swimmers who will determine the biggest factor in medal positions at the Olympics.

7. Zac Stubblety-Cook from Australia.

In the event, Stubblety-Cook, Australia’s foremost breaststroker, was able to supply splits of 58 in the medley relays, helping his team earn a bronze. In the final, he comfortably pulled away from the field, setting a new Olympic record with a time of 2:06.38 to claim the gold. However, Sato missed out on the final, ending up in fourth place. Both Sato and Stubblety-Cook had the potential to break the world record and become the second and third fastest performers in history. In the earlier races of the year, Sato had almost broken the world record, making the breaststroke 200 men’s race in Tokyo one of the fastest. It looked like Stubblety-Cook could possibly earn a medal with a time of 2:06.

8. Tom Dean, from the United Kingdom.

Tom Dean, a 21-year-old British swimmer, had a solid performance at the Olympics. In the individual event, he won a gold medal with a time of 1:45.72 in the 200m freestyle, finishing as the third-best in the field. In the next day’s relay, Dean led off the 800m freestyle relay, giving his teammates a comfortable lead with a split time of 1:45.72. He held off the early leaders, Fernando Scheffer and Sun-Woo Hwang, before accelerating in the last turn and barely holding off his teammate Scheffer to secure the gold medal. Dean’s time of 1:44.22 in the 200m freestyle also made him the sixth-fastest performer in history. Overall, Dean proved himself to be a strong contender in the event and made a name for himself on the global stage, debuting at the 2019 World Championships and now competing in his first Olympics.

9. Florian Wellbrock from Germany.

Wellbrock demonstrated resilience in the open water competition, which was the most impressive aspect of his performance. He secured the gold medal with a remarkable lead of 25 seconds, leaving his competitors behind on the final lap of the seven-lap course. He did not give anyone the opportunity to catch up with him, even though he would later participate in the 10K open water event in Tokyo. However, Wellbrock’s journey was not over. Towards the end, he was disheartened to relinquish a significant lead, undoubtedly feeling disappointed. Despite this setback, he remains the world’s top-ranked swimmer with a time of 14:36.45 in the mile, although it falls short of his personal best. In the 1500 freestyle, he earned a bronze medal, trailing behind Finke and Romanchuk. In the 800 freestyle, he finished fourth, with Bobby Finke, Gregorio Paltrinieri, and Mykhailo Romanchuk ahead of him. He was unable to change his pace and keep up with his rivals, but he touched the wall first in both finals. If the two pool distance races in Tokyo were 750 meters and 1450 meters long, Florian Wellbrock would have emerged victorious in both.

10. Wang Shun, Chinese swimmer.

Wang Shun, a 27-year-old swimmer, has become faster than any man in this event, aside from the legendary duo of Lochte and Phelps. In order to secure the gold in a time of 1:55.00, Wang held off a challenge from Duncan Scott and quickly caught up to Andrew in the freestyle leg. However, after the breaststroke leg, Wang’s lead at the halfway point was overtaken by Andrew, who took the lead. Nevertheless, Wang did not give up and claimed the gold in the final, qualifying for the Olympics. Despite not winning a medal in the 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics, Wang has been a prominent figure in the scene for years. He eventually took the bronze in the 200 IM.

11. Ahmed Hafnaoui from Tunisia.

Since 2012, he has become the first individual from Africa to achieve the feat of winning a gold medal in swimming, following in the footsteps of Ous Mellouli. He is also only the second Tunisian man to achieve this remarkable feat of winning an Olympic gold medal in swimming. Despite being relatively unknown, this teenager showcased his exceptional talent by outperforming his competitors in the final stretch and ultimately clinching the Olympic gold medal with a time of 3:43.36. Throughout most of the race, he swam in second place behind Australia’s Jack McLoughlin. During the preliminary rounds, he managed to secure a spot in the final as the No. 8 seed, with a time of 3:45.82, which was an improvement from his previous personal best of 3:46.16 in the 400 freestyle event. This initial seeding placed him in the 16th position. Ahmed Hafnaoui was not initially considered a strong contender for a medal. However, Finke, on the other hand, was regarded as a potential dark horse and managed to surpass expectations by winning gold in both the 800 free and 1500 free events, making him responsible for two of Tokyo’s most surprising victories. Bobby Finke secured the sixth spot on this esteemed list.

12. USA’s Chase Kalisz.

He had enough gold to capture and hang, but he faded at the end. Kalisz took charge in the final with a killer breaststroke leg that gave him a 2.5-second lead going into freestyle, but he was sure to benefit from reigning world champion Seto Daiya finishing ninth. Kalisz needed the setbacks from 2019 and 2016 to propel his career, and they were the fuel he needed in his signature 400 IM this year. His status was a big question mark as recently as the beginning of June, but he later revealed that he had been battling a shoulder injury. Kalisz struggled mightily entering both individual medley events as his favorites, leaving him with a ninth-place finish in the 400 IM and a bronze in the 200 IM at the World Championships last year. In the 2016 Olympics, Kalisz tracked down Kosuke Hagino to finish behind him by seven tenths, earning him the silver medal.

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13. Arno Kamminga, from the Netherlands.

Since 2008, Kamminga has become the first male athlete to secure medals in both breaststroke events at a single Olympics. His two silver medals have propelled him towards the gold-medal standard. Specifically in the 200 breaststroke, he demonstrated exceptional performance during critical moments where his competitors stumbled, resulting in silver medals in both events in Tokyo. In the 100 breaststroke, he became only the second male swimmer, alongside Adam Peaty, to break the 58-second barrier, and he also became the sixth male swimmer to complete the 200 breaststroke in under 2 minutes and 7 seconds prior to the Olympics. Despite reaching the semifinals in four World Championships appearances in 2017 and 2009, he had never advanced to the finals. However, he made his Olympic debut in Tokyo at the age of 25. He has made remarkable progress throughout 2021, especially starting from late 2020, similar to another swimmer, Arno Kamminga.

Fourteen. Ryan Murphy, United States of America.

Since 2016, he has consistently been one of the world’s best, with his performance in the men’s 400-meter medley relay leading the U.S. Team to a gold medal at the 2019 World Championships. He started off the relay with a strong split of 52.31, giving the Americans a significant lead. When Great Britain put up a slower leg in one of the holes, he spearheaded the team’s victory.

15. Kliment Kolesnikov, from Russia.

Italy’s bronze medal win in the 400m medley relay was greatly improved by his exceptional split time of 47.03. Despite the Russian Olympic Committee’s likely contention for a medal, Russia’s favorite for the gold, Kolesnikov, ended up in a disappointing seventh place with a time of 48.45 in the anchoring leg. It was only Kolesnikov who couldn’t elevate his performances in the relays. On the other hand, Kyle Chalmers and Caeleb Dressel, the dynamic duo, secured a bronze medal and entered the Olympics with the second-fastest time in the world for the 100m freestyle. Evgeny Rylov, Kolesnikov’s countryman, swam a fantastic 52.00 to earn a silver medal in the backstroke, proving himself as one of the best backstrokers in the world this year. While Kolesnikov excelled in two events in Tokyo, his accomplishment in the non-Olympic backstroke 50m falls short compared to the world records broken by Dressel and Kolesnikov this year in long course events.

16. Kyle Chalmers from Australia.

Kyle Chalmers, who had been relatively unknown at the age of 18, emerged as a formidable force in the men’s 100 free event at the Olympics. He showcased his talent by swimming the second leg on the 800 free relay team, propelling the Aussies from sixth to third place. Additionally, Chalmers secured a pair of relay bronze medals in Tokyo, with his impressive 46.44 anchor split on the 400 free relay. Although he narrowly missed out on a gold medal, finishing just six hundredths of a second behind Dressel, Chalmers’ performance was outstanding. His back-half split time of 24.37 was significantly faster than any other competitor in the field, mirroring his remarkable achievement at the 2019 Worlds where he swam a matching time of 47.08. Chalmers’ determination was evident once again in the 100 free event, where he narrowly missed out on victory by a mere 0.12 seconds. As a 23-year-old veteran, he was ready to go head-to-head with Dressel and prove himself as a worthy competitor.

17. Gregorio Paltrinieri, from Italy.

Gregorio Paltrinieri, who was considered the top contender for the gold medals in the 800 free and 1500 free events in 2021, participated. The 26-year-old had previously won the world championship title in the 800 free and had successfully defended his gold medal in the 1500 free. In the midst of the pandemic in 2020, he delivered an outstanding performance, setting a European record of 14:33.10 in the mile, which was the second-fastest time ever recorded. However, just a month before the Games, Paltrinieri received a diagnosis of mononucleosis, which significantly impacted his performance in Tokyo, as he was not in optimal condition. Nonetheless, he managed to secure two medals. Despite initially qualifying for the 800 free final in eighth place, he led for most of the event and ultimately finished with a silver medal in a thrilling conclusion. In the 1500 free, he disappointingly placed fourth. However, he redeemed himself by later earning a bronze medal in the 10K, which marked his first-ever podium finish in the 10K event at either the Olympics or World Championships.

18. Mykhailo Romanchuk from Ukraine.

Romanchuk did not swim his best in the final Olympic race, finishing in second place in the 1500m freestyle. However, he was very impressive in the last turn, sneaking past Wellbrock by seven tenths of a second. While Finke and Wellbrock trailed behind, Finke stole the headlines with his anchor split of 25.78 seconds. Then, in the free 1500m, Paltrinieri and Wellbrock claimed silver and Romanchuk finished in 15th place after placing second at the World Championships in 2019 and 2017. Mykhailo Romanchuk, another European distance star, has often flown under the radar, similar to Wellbrock and Paltrinieri.

19. Jack McLoughlin from Australia.

Jack McLoughlin, a 26-year-old Australian competing in his second Olympics, arrived in Tokyo as the second-fastest man in the world in both the 400 free and 800 free events. Although he did not reach the same level of performance in Tokyo, he still managed to secure his first Olympic medal. McLoughlin led the 400 free final for most of the race, only to narrowly miss out on the gold medal when Ahmed Hafnaoui surged ahead. However, there is no reason for him to feel ashamed of his silver medal. McLoughlin’s achievement adds to Australia’s impressive legacy in the 400 freestyle event, which includes gold medalist Mack Horton in 2016, gold medalist Ian Thorpe in 2000 and 2004, and bronze medalist Grant Hackett in 2004. In the 800 free event, McLoughlin ended up in fifth place, about three seconds behind the leading pack of four swimmers.

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Tomoru Honda, a resident of Japan, aged 20.

Before 2021, a swimmer who had never achieved a time below 1:55, Honda displayed great skill by finishing second despite Milak’s victory with a margin of almost 2.5 seconds. His time of 1:53.73 propelled him to the 11th position in the all-time rankings for this race. He secured Japan’s sole medal in men’s swimming at the 2021 Olympics, coming in second place behind Kristof Milak in the 200 fly. However, in 2019, Honda failed to qualify for the senior World Championships, which were instead the World Junior Championships. Tomoru Honda obtained a silver medal in the 200 butterfly at his most recent significant competition in 2019.

21. Florent Manaudou, representing France.

Once again, Florent Manaudou, the 30-year-old French swimmer, showcased his racing abilities in the world this year. He finished fifth with a time of 21.55 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle, which tied his personal best. In addition, he put forth an incredible effort in Tokyo to secure a silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle event at the Olympics, demonstrating his full range of skills in the short course. After retiring from the sport in 2016 following the Olympics, Manaudou made a successful comeback in 2019, returning to compete in the International Swimming League (ISL). It is safe to say that he would have been a strong contender for a top-25 global ranking, with many people betting on his success.

22. Jay Litherland, United States.

Let’s take notice of Brendon Smith, who actually came eighth place at the 300-meter mark in the Bronze earn. With his phenomenal performance at the World Championships 2019, where he almost ran down the world champion Seto Daiya, he secured a 1-2 finish for the United States and took home the silver. Litherland, known for his incredible finishes and stellar freestyle splits, has overcome big deficits in both the 2021 Olympic Trials and the 2016 Olympics. However, in the race that mattered, he had to overcome a second-1.6 deficit in the last 100 meters to claim silver. The final of the men’s 400 IM at the Olympic trials featured seven swimmers who were slower than their previous times (except for gold medalist Chase Kalisz), making it the first Olympic final of the week.

Elijah Winnington, 23, from Australia.

Winnington maintains his position as the top-ranked swimmer globally in that competition. However, the Olympics were not the solitary tournament held this year. He did not participate in the 200 free semifinals and was subsequently excluded from Australia’s 800 free relay team in the finals. Nevertheless, he did manage to secure his first Olympic medal (a bronze) for his performance in the preliminary swim. It is evident that Winnington did not perform at his peak in Tokyo. Despite being the favored contender in the 400 free final, he held the lead for the initial 150 meters but gradually fell behind, ultimately finishing in seventh place. Additionally, Winnington achieved second place in the 200 free event during the competition. This extraordinary accomplishment earned him the title of the ninth-fastest swimmer in history for this event, placing him fourth among Australian swimmers, following the achievements of Ian Thorpe, Mack Horton, and Grant Hackett, all of whom are gold medalists in their own right. During Australia’s Olympic Trials in June, 21-year-old Elijah Winnington emerged victorious in the 400 freestyle, completing it in 3:42.65.

24. Carson Foster, United States.

Let’s see if Foster can continue the momentum moving into the next Olympic cycle. Kalisz swam the time to win gold in the Olympic event much faster than Foster, but it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison since Foster did not exert himself in the pressures of the Olympics or prelims. Foster swam a time of 4:08.46 at the Austin Sectionals meet, right as the Olympics were getting underway several weeks later. He then placed eighth in the 200 free, missing a spot on the Olympic relay by two tenths. Foster had been in first place through 250 meters after placing second in the breaststroke before fading badly coming home. In reality, he was actually the swimmer who passed Litherland with his incredible freestyle split at the Olympics. Foster is not even an Olympian at this point in his career. Carson Foster is not an Olympic medalist.

25. (Tie) James Guy, United Kingdom & Zach Apple, United States of America.

The aforementioned American man, Guy, helped the American team to take the lead behind the British men in the world record-breaking relay race. Guy also posted a time of 50.27 seconds in the 100m butterfly, and he was the man who took the lead in the mixed 400m medley relay with a split time of 50.00 seconds. Meanwhile, he secured his first Olympic gold medal in the 800m freestyle relay by supplying a strong split time of 1:44.40 seconds, ensuring that Great Britain did not give up their lead. Apple, the anchor leg of the American team in the men’s 400m medley and freestyle relays, provided a strong finish. Although Guy scratched from the 100m butterfly and placed 11th in the 100m freestyle, he could have likely won a medal. However, he rebounded from his individual disappointments and secured a spot in the relay world record with a strong split time. Apple also rebounded from his disappointing individual swim and secured a spot in the relay world record with a rough split time. Although Guy scratched from the 100m butterfly and placed 11th in the 100m freestyle, he could have likely won a medal.

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