All-Time Top Medalists in the Swimming World Championships – Men (Kazan 2015 Update)

After we’ve seen how Kazan 2015 affected the all-time single most successful Championships evar, it’s time to look at the all-time overall leaders lists and to see how much THEY changed.

Anyway, once again, in order to not cause brain damage by putting too many tables in one post, I’ll split it in two. We’ll start with the male swimmers.

Most gold medals in Word Championships history – Men

Most Gold Medals All-Time (4+)

2013 Rankings

2015 Rankings

Rank

Swimmer

# of Gold Medals

Rank

Swimmer

# of Gold Medals

1

Michael Phelps

26

1

Michael Phelps

26

2

Ryan Lochte

15

2

Ryan Lochte

18

3

Ian Thorpe

11

3

Ian Thorpe

11

4

Aaron Piersol

10

4

Aaron Piersol

10

4

Grant Hackett

10

4

Grant Hackett

10

6

Jim Montgomery

7

6

Jim Montgomery

7

6

Michael Klim

7

6

Michael Klim

7

8

Alexander Popov

6

6

Sun Yang

7

8

Brendan Hansen

6

9

Alexander Popov

6

8

Cesar Cielo Filho

6

9

Brendan Hansen

6

8

Matt Biondi

6

9

Cesar Cielo Filho

6

12

Matt Welsh

5

9

Matt Biondi

6

12

Michael Gross

5

13

Matt Welsh

5

12

Neil Walker

5

13

Michael Gross

5

12

Rowdy Gaines

5

13

Nathan Adrian

5

12

Sun Yang

5

13

Neil Walker

5

17

David McCagg

4

13

Rowdy Gaines

5

17

David Walters

4

18

Camille Lacourt

4

17

Garrett Weber-Gale

4

18

David McCagg

4

17

Ian Crocker

4

18

David Walters

4

17

Jason Lezak

4

18

Florent Manaudou

4

17

Joe Bottom

4

18

Garrett Weber-Gale

4

17

Peter Vanderkaay

4

18

Ian Crocker

4

17

Ricky Berens

4

18

Jason Lezak

4

17

Tamas Darnyi

4

18

Jeremy Stravius

4

17

Tom Jager

4

18

Joe Bottom

4

17

Vladimir Salnikov

4

18

Matt Grevers

4

18

Peter Vanderkaay

4

18

Ricky Berens

4

18

Tamas Darnyi

4

18

Tom Jager

4

18

Vladimir Salnikov

4

I decided to put both the all-time table after the 2013 Championships and the all-time table after the 2015 Championships, so we can compare the two.

So, what has changed since the 2013 rankings?

The minimum number of gold medals one must have to be included here is 4. And after Kazan 2015 we have 5 new swimmers who now meet this criterion. They are Matt Grevers, Jeremy Stravius, Florent Manaudou and Camille Lacourt (hey, 3 of them are back specialists!) who now have 4 gold medals in the World Championships and are all ranked 18th all-time, and Nathan Adrian who had 3 golds before Kazan, won 2 more, and now has 6. Wait. 7. Er, no. 5. Yeah, that sounds about right. He now has 5. This elevates him to 13th place all-time.

However, the biggest improvement in the rankings belongs to Sun Yang. Sun Yang was ranked 12th after Barcelona, but the two additional golds he won in Kazan increased his total to 7 gold medals and catapulted him into the top 10. Now he lies in 6th place. Only 5 swimmers won more gold medals in the history of the World Championships than Sun Yang! AND he might have had 8 gold medals if it wasn’t for that 1500m incident. Then he could singlehandedly hold the number 6 spot all-time. AND he’s only 23! He can definitely climb the rankings further. For example, it’s not impossible that after Budapest 2017 he’ll join the double-figures-gold-medals club. And speaking of the double-figures-gold-medals club. Grant Hackett didn’t add a gold medal to his total in the 4x200m relay, and he was left with 10, but Ryan Lochte continued with his ill-fated attempt to catch Phelps in the all-time rankings. He won 3 gold medals in Kazan and increased his total from 15 to 18. Still miles behind Michael (26), but at least he guaranteed himself the number 2 spot for at least a decade or so. He will never catch Phelps, but he can make it his goal to join the 20-gold-medals club before he retires. I reckon he has a chance, but will he still swim in 2017, at age 33? I hope so… It’s always an honor to see this great swimmer compete, and perhaps he would like to break the tie with Hackett and win an event (the 200 medley) 5 times in a row?

Michael and Ryan anxiously waiting to see whether something changed in the rankings.

Michael and Ryan anxiously waiting to see whether something changed in the rankings.

Most total medals in Word Championships history – Men

Most Total Medals All-Time (6+)

2013 Rankings

2015 Rankings

Rank

Swimmer

# of Total Medals (G,S,B)

Rank

Swimmer

# of Total Medals (G,S,B)

1

Michael Phelps

33 (26,6,1)

1

Michael Phelps

33 (26,6,1)

2

Ryan Lochte

23 (15,4,4)

2

Ryan Lochte

27 (18,5,4)

3

Grant Hackett

18 (10,6,2)

3

Grant Hackett

19 (10,6,3)

4

Ian Thorpe

13 (11,1,1)

4

Ian Thorpe

13 (11,1,1)

5

Michael Gross

13 (5,5,3)

5

Michael Gross

13 (5,5,3)

6

Aaron Piersol

12 (10,2,0)

6

Aaron Piersol

12 (10,2,0)

7

Kosuke Kitajima

12 (3,4,5)

7

Sun Yang

12 (7,2,3)

8

Michael Klim

11 (7,2,2)

8

Kosuke Kitajima

12 (3,4,5)

9

Alexander Popov

11 (6,4,1)

9

Laszlo Cseh

12 (2,5,5)

10

Matt Biondi

11 (6,2,3)

10

Michael Klim

11 (7,2,2)

11

Pieter van den Hoogenband

10 (0,8,2)

11

Alexander Popov

11 (6,4,1)

12

Jim Montgomery

9 (7,1,1)

12

Matt Biondi

11 (6,2,3)

13

Brendan Hansen

9 (6,2,1)

13

Pieter van den Hoogenband

10 (0,8,2)

14

Matt Welsh

9 (5,3,1)

14

Jim Montgomery

9 (7,1,1)

15

Sun Yang

9 (5,1,3)

15

Brendan Hansen

9 (6,2,1)

16

Ian Crocker

9 (4,5,0)

16

Matt Welsh

9 (5,3,1)

17

Laszlo Cseh

9 (1,4,4)

17

Nathan Adrian

9 (5,2,2)

18

Rowdy Gaines

8 (5,3,0)

18

Ian Crocker

9 (4,5,0)

19

Neil Walker

7 (5,2,0)

19

Fabien Gilot

9 (3,2,4)

20

Jeremy Stravius

7 (3,3,1)

20

Cameron van der Burgh

9 (2,3,4)

21

Norbert Rozsa

7 (3,1,3)

21

Rowdy Gaines

8 (5,3,0)

22

Lars Frolander

7 (2,3,2)

22

Jeremy Stravius

8 (4,3,1)

23

Fabien Gilot

7 (2,2,3)

23

Ryan Cochrane

8 (0,4,4)

24

Cameron van der Burgh

7 (2,1,4)

24

Neil Walker

7 (5,2,0)

25

Klaus Steinbach

7 (1,4,2)

25

Camille Lacourt

7 (4,2,1)

26

Cesar Cielo Filho

6 (6,0,0)

25

Matt Grevers

7 (4,2,1)

27

Vladimir Salnikov

6 (4,2,0)

27

Norbert Rozsa

7 (3,1,3)

28

Jason Lezak

6 (4,1,1)

28

Lars Frolander

7 (2,3,2)

29

Garry Hall Jr.

6 (3,3,0)

29

Paul Biedermann

7 (2,1,4)

30

Nathan Adrian

6 (3,1,2)

30

Klaus Steinbach

7 (1,4,2)

31

Brenton Rickard

6 (2,2,2)

31

Danila Izotov

7 (0,4,3)

31

Dirk Richter

6 (2,2,2)

32

Cesar Cielo Filho

6 (6,0,0)

33

Geoff Huegill

6 (2,1,3)

33

Vladimir Salnikov

6 (4,2,0)

33

Paul Biedermann

6 (2,1,3)

34

Jason Lezak

6 (4,1,1)

35

Steffen Zesner

6 (1,2,3)

35

Conor Dwyer

6 (3,3,0)

35

Oussama Mellouli

6 (1,2,3)

35

Garry Hall Jr.

6 (3,3,0)

37

Ryan Cochrane

6 (0,4,2)

37

Brenton Rickard

6 (2,2,2)

38

Danila Izotov

6 (0,3,3)

37

Dirk Richter

6 (2,2,2)

38

Roger Pyttel

6 (0,3,3)

39

Geoff Huegill

6 (2,1,3)

40

Frederick Bousquet

6 (0,1,5)

40

Steffen Zesner

6 (1,2,3)

   

40

Oussama Mellouli

6 (1,2,3)

   

42

Roger Pyttel

6 (0,3,3)

   

43

Frederick Bousquet

6 (0,1,5)

Ok, so what’s new in the all-time total medals rankings?

Remember, the minimum here is 6 medals and the internal medals distribution is important. All in all it seems that we have 3 new additions to the rankings. Conor Dwyer makes an entry at the 35th place, with 3 golds and 3 silvers. Matt Grevers makes an entry here too, after already crashing the gold medals table, with his 4 golds, 2 silvers and 1 bronze – he’s ranked 25th all-time. And incidentally, he shares this spot with another rookie – Camille Lacourt, who has the exact same medals distribution.

And what about swimmers who were already featured in the rankings but who improved their positions? We have several of those. One additional medal can make wonders in the rankings, as Danila Izotov (jumped from 38th place to 31st) and Paul Biedermann (jumped from 33rd to 29th place) show us. However, one additional medal can also have almost zero effect, as is demonstrated in Grant Hackett’s case – the legendary Hackett won a bronze medal in Kazan, but it didn’t really affect his position and he stays in 3rd place all-time. Well, now perhaps it will be a little more difficult for someone to take his place in the top 3.

However, winning just the one more medal can actually lower your rankings, as Jeremy Stravius found out. He won the gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay, but in the overall rankings he slipped from 20th place to 22nd… Tough luck, Jeremy. Better win 2 medals next time, to make sure you’re going up and not down!

Several swimmers won two medals in the 2015 Championships to improve their rankings. Ryan Cochrane, a.k.a. the Merlene Ottey of Swimming, moved up the most in the rankings, jumping 14 places – from 37th to 23rd! Cameron van der Burgh is perhaps disappointed by losing twice to Adam Peaty, but he still won two silvers which improved his position – he moved from 24th to 20th place. And a third swimmer who’s done it is relay specialist Fabien Gilot, whose two additional medals in Kazan improved his position from 23rd to 19th. BTW, Gilot has now won 9 medals in total in World Championships – and they are all in the relays! Wow. This must be a record.

The second best improvement in the rankings, after Cochrane, belongs to Nathan Adrian. The 3 medals Nathan won in Kazan propelled him from the 30th place to the 17th. I don’t know how long he will continue to swim, seeing as he’s 26 years old, but if he will make it to Budapest 2017, he has a good chance of entering the top 10 all-time.

Two swimmers who made it to the top 10 with their Kazan 2015 exploits are Laszlo Cseh and Sun Yang. Both had 9 medals before Kazan, and now they both have 12. Laszlo’s entry in the top 10 can be seen as a recognition for his awesomely long and successful career. He’s now 9th all-time. I don’t know what will happen to him – he’s 29 years old already and despite this very successful campaign – will he continue to swim two years from now? I reckon he should make it his lifetime ambition to enter the top 5… And while for Laszlo this is perhaps a lifetime ambition, for Sun Yang it’s probably one of the no-brainer tasks for Budapest 2017. Sun Yang used his über-successful 2015 Championship to move up from 15th place to 7th all-time. And in two years he’ll probably already be in the top 4. Damn.

However, there is a big gap between the three top swimmers and the rest of the pool (ba-dum-tss!). Sun Yang will have to wait until 2019 for perhaps entering the top 3, and even then it’ll require him to outdo himself. He’s still young, though, and it’s not unreasonable to predict that he’ll end his career as one of the all-time top 3 most decorated swimmers.

The last swimmer in the rankings who added to his medals’ total following Kazan 2015 is Ryan Lochte, number 2 on every possible list. Poor Ryan. He’s fighting a lost battle here with Michael Phelps. Even after once again being the most successful swimmer in terms of medals he’s still very far from catching Phelps. His 27 medals are an amazing haul, but he still needs 7 to pass Michael due to his inferior gold medals total. He needs two very good campaigns to do that and I don’t think he will make it. Not with his advanced age. However, he can console himself with the fact that Just as he’ll never catch Michael, no one probably will ever catch him.

One last thing – with the additions of those two abomination events, the mixed relays, it has become easier for good swimmers from good swimming nations to win multiple medals in a single Championships. So we can expect swimmers swimming their way faster into the all-time rankings in the near future. However, I guess it’s the evolution of the Championships. I mean, the 50m butterfly, breaststroke and backstroke events weren’t a part of the Championships until the 2001 edition… So the swimmers from the past can complain about those additions too. I guess we must accept those abominations to our family as well…

Next up – the women’s all-time rankings!

Three of the overall top 10 swimmers in one photo!

In this photo you can see 43 medals in the World Championships.

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One thought on “All-Time Top Medalists in the Swimming World Championships – Men (Kazan 2015 Update)

  1. Pingback: All-Time Top Medalists in the Swimming World Championships – Men | Michael's Sports Statistics

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