New games! PlayTrivia andBirthle.

The Most Famous

SWIMMERS from Australia

Icon of occuation in country

This page contains a list of the greatest Australian Swimmers. The pantheon dataset contains 392 Swimmers, 36 of which were born in Australia. This makes Australia the birth place of the 2nd most number of Swimmers.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Australian Swimmers of all time. This list of famous Australian Swimmers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Australian Swimmers.

Photo of Frederick Lane

1. Frederick Lane (1880 - 1969)

With an HPI of 46.38, Frederick Lane is the most famous Australian Swimmer.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages on wikipedia.

Frederick Claude Vivian Lane (2 February 1880 – 14 May 1969) was an Australian swimmer who competed at the 1900 Summer Olympics.Lane, from Manly, New South Wales, was four years old when his brother saved him from drowning in Sydney Harbour, whereupon he decided to learn to swim. Later, he attended high school at Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview.After breaking many Australasian swimming records, Lane moved to England to compete in the English Championships in 1899.He was the first Australian to represent his country in swimming at the Olympic Games, when he competed at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, and won two gold medals. He first won the 200 metres freestyle, clearly beating Hungarian Zoltán Halmay. His second final was just 45 minutes later, the discontinued 200 metre obstacle event, where he beat Austrian Otto Wahle.After the Olympics, Lane stayed in England for another two years working for a legal firm in Blackpool while he continued to swim and break records. In July 1902, he won a 100-yard race and became the first person to record one minute dead for that distance. In August, he swam 220 yards in 2 minutes 28.6 seconds, which in 1974 was ratified by FINA as the first World Record for 200 metres. In October, he broke the one-minute barrier for 100 yards in 59.6 seconds.On returning to Australia, Lane became a master printer and a partner in a printing and stationery firm on Bridge Street. He married in 1908. He died in 1969 at Avalon Beach.In 1969, Lane was honoured by the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.On 10 December 1985, Lane was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. In 2022, he was an inaugural inductee of the Swimming Australia Hall of Fame.

Photo of Ian Thorpe

2. Ian Thorpe (1982 - )

With an HPI of 45.93, Ian Thorpe is the 2nd most famous Australian Swimmer.  His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.

Ian James Thorpe (born 13 October 1982) is an Australian retired swimmer who specialised in freestyle, but also competed in backstroke and the individual medley. He has won five Olympic gold medals, the most won by any Australian along with fellow swimmer Emma McKeon. With three gold and two silver medals, Thorpe was the most successful athlete at the 2000 Summer Olympics, held in his hometown of Sydney. At the age of 14, Thorpe became the youngest male ever to represent Australia, and his victory in the 400 metre freestyle at the 1998 Perth World Championships made him the youngest-ever individual male World Champion. After that victory, Thorpe dominated the 400 m freestyle, winning the event at every Olympic, World, Commonwealth and Pan Pacific Swimming Championships until his break after the 2004 Olympics in Athens. At the 2001 World Aquatics Championships, he became the first person to win six gold medals in one World Championship. Aside from 13 individual long-course world records, Thorpe anchored the Australian relay teams, numbering the victories in the 4 × 100 m and the 4 × 200 m freestyle relays in Sydney among his five relay world records. His wins in the 200 m and 400 m and his bronze in the 100 m freestyle at the 2004 Summer Olympics made him the only male to have won medals in the 100–200–400 combination. He acquired the nickname "Thorpedo" because of his speed in swimming. Thorpe announced his retirement from competitive swimming in November 2006, citing waning motivation; he made a brief comeback in 2011 and 2012. In total, Thorpe has won eleven World Championship gold medals; this is the fifth-highest number of gold medals won by any male swimmer. Thorpe was the first person to have been named Swimming World Swimmer of the Year four times, and was the Australian Swimmer of the Year from 1999 to 2003. His athletic achievements made him one of Australia's most popular athletes, and he was recognised as the Young Australian of the Year in 2000.

Photo of Fanny Durack

3. Fanny Durack (1889 - 1956)

With an HPI of 40.54, Fanny Durack is the 3rd most famous Australian Swimmer.  Her biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Sarah Frances "Fanny" Durack (27 October 1889 – 20 March 1956), also known by her married name Fanny Gately, was an Australian competition swimmer. From 1910 until 1918 she was the world's greatest female swimmer across all distances from freestyle sprints to the mile marathon.

Photo of John Devitt

4. John Devitt (1937 - 2023)

With an HPI of 37.99, John Devitt is the 4th most famous Australian Swimmer.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

John Thomas Devitt, AM (4 February 1937 – 17 August 2023) was an Australian sprint freestyle swimmer of the 1950s and 1960s, who won a gold medal in the 100-metre freestyle at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. He won in controversial circumstances, being awarded the gold medal despite the timekeepers recording a slower time than the American silver medallist Lance Larson. He also claimed a gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, in the 4×200-metre freestyle relay.

Photo of Shane Gould

5. Shane Gould (1956 - )

With an HPI of 34.29, Shane Gould is the 5th most famous Australian Swimmer.  Her biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Shane Elizabeth Gould (born 23 November 1956) is an Australian former competition swimmer. She won three gold medals, a silver medal and a bronze, at the 1972 Summer Olympics. In 2018, she won the fifth season of Australian Survivor, becoming the oldest winner of any Survivor franchise. Gould was born in Australia, but spent most of her childhood in Fiji after she and her family moved there. At age 15, Gould competed in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, winning three gold medals. Gould was named the Australian of the Year in 1972, and received an MBE in 1983. In April 2018, Gould was awarded an Order of Merit by the Australian Olympic Committee.Gould returned in the 1990s as a swimming mentor and competitor. She competed in competitive swimming again in 2003, participating in the 200m Individual Medley. In 1999, she published her autobiography Tumble Turns. In 2018, she competed on Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders and won, winning $500,000 as the Sole Survivor. Gould later returned for Australian Survivor: All Stars, but was voted out first.

Photo of Boy Charlton

6. Boy Charlton (1907 - 1975)

With an HPI of 34.24, Boy Charlton is the 6th most famous Australian Swimmer.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Andrew Murray "Boy" Charlton (12 August 1907 – 10 December 1975) was an Australian freestyle swimmer of the 1920s and 1930s who won a gold medal in the 1500 m freestyle at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. He set five world records and also won a further three silver and one bronze medal in his Olympic career.

Photo of Bronte Barratt

7. Bronte Barratt (1989 - )

With an HPI of 30.73, Bronte Barratt is the 7th most famous Australian Swimmer.  Her biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Bronte Amelia Arnold Barratt, OAM (born 8 February 1989) is a retired Australian competitive swimmer and Olympic gold medallist.

Photo of Grant Hackett

8. Grant Hackett (1980 - )

With an HPI of 29.37, Grant Hackett is the 8th most famous Australian Swimmer.  His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Grant George Hackett OAM (born 9 May 1980) is an Australian swimmer, most famous for winning the men's 1500 metres freestyle race at both the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. This achievement has led him to be regarded as one of the greatest distance swimmers in history. He also collected a gold medal in Sydney for swimming in the heats of the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay. He was well regarded for his versatility, and has held the long course world records in the 200 m, 800 m, and 1500 m freestyle events. He dominated the 1500 m event for a decade, being undefeated in the event in finals from 1996 until the 2007 World Aquatics Championships. In total, he won 10 long-course world championship gold medals. Hackett was the captain of the Australian swimming team from the time the role was reintroduced in 2005 until his retirement in 2008. Hackett worked for the Nine Network, often hosting Wide World of Sports. Hackett's contract as a Westpac Banking Corporation ambassador was not renewed in February 2012 after 13 years in the role, but he remains an employee of the organisation. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Generation Life.

Photo of Brittany Elmslie

9. Brittany Elmslie (1994 - )

With an HPI of 28.06, Brittany Elmslie is the 9th most famous Australian Swimmer.  Her biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Brittany Joyce Elmslie, (born 19 June 1994) is a former Australian competitive swimmer. She represented Australia at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics in swimming, and won a gold medal in the 4 × 100 m freestyle relay at both Games.

Photo of Emma McKeon

10. Emma McKeon (1994 - )

With an HPI of 28.04, Emma McKeon is the 10th most famous Australian Swimmer.  Her biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Emma Jennifer McKeon, (born 24 May 1994) is an Australian competitive swimmer. She is an eight-time world record holder, three current and five former, in relays. Her total career haul of 11 Olympic medals following the 2020 Olympic Games made her Australia's most decorated Olympian and included one gold medal from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and four gold medals from the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. With four gold and three bronze medals she was the most decorated athlete across all sports at the 2020 Summer Olympics, and tied for the most medals won by a woman in a single Olympic Games. She has also won 20 medals, including five gold medals, at the World Aquatics Championships; and a record 20 medals, including 14 gold, at the Commonwealth Games. In 2021, McKeon tied Ian Thorpe for the most number of Olympic gold medals won over the course of an Australian athlete's career with five total gold medals earned at her first two Olympic Games. She was also the highest scoring competitor, male or female, for the 2021 FINA Swimming World Cup where she earned a total of fourteen medals, including ten gold medals and four silver medals at the Swimming World Cup in 2021.

Pantheon has 36 people classified as swimmers born between 1880 and 2001. Of these 36, 32 (88.89%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living swimmers include Ian Thorpe, Shane Gould, and Bronte Barratt. The most famous deceased swimmers include Frederick Lane, Fanny Durack, and John Devitt. As of April 2022, 5 new swimmers have been added to Pantheon including Boy Charlton, Kaylee McKeown, and Ariarne Titmus.

Living Swimmers

Go to all Rankings

Deceased Swimmers

Go to all Rankings

Newly Added Swimmers (2022)

Go to all Rankings

Which Swimmers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 4 most globally memorable Swimmers since 1700.