Carson Foster is a competitive swimmer who represents the United States internationally. He is an NCAA Champion and 11x world championship medalist.
From a young age, Foster was at the top of his age group, making headlines when he broke Michael Phelps’ 10-under National Age Group record in the 100 fly just after becoming the youngest swimmer ever to break 30 seconds in the 50 fly.
Carson was ranked as SwimSwam’s #1 NCAA recruit in the college class of 2020. On March 7, 2018, Foster announced his verbal commitment to swim for Texas, just a month after his brother Jake had announced the same.
Foster was an immediate impact swimmer his freshman year. At his first Big 12 Championships, he took titles in the 200 IM (1:41.46), 400 IM (3:40.22), and 200 back (1:40.34), as well as in the 800 free relay.
At his first NCAA Championships, Foster helped his longhorns to their first team title since 2018. Individually he placed 4th in the 200 IM (1:40.99), 2nd in the 400 IM (3:38.25), and 6th in the 200 back (1:39.23). He also helped Texas to a national title in the 800 free relay, splitting 1:31.55.
Foster carried his momentum into his sophomore year. He repeated as Big 12 Champ in the 200 IM (1:41.32), 400 IM (3:37.72), 200 back (1:39.42), and as a member of Texas’ 800 free relay.
At his 2nd NCAA Championships, he helped Texas defend their national title in the 800 free relay, anchoring in 1:31.05 to bring the longhorns in for a time of 6:03.89, a new NCAA, US Open, and American record. Individually, he placed 6th in the 200 IM (1:40.13), 3rd in the 400 IM (3:35.69), and 2nd in the 200 back (1:38.77).
At the 2023 Big 12 Championships, Foster won the 200 IM (1:40.42), 400 IM (3:35.49), and 200 back (1:38.87) once again.
At his 3rd NCAAs, Foster started it how he had his previous 2 years, propelling Texas to a national title in the 800 free relay, splitting 1:30.15 on the anchor leg. He also swam on the longhorns’ 12th place 200 medley relay that night, splitting 21.01 on the backstroke leg. On night 2, Foster broke 1:40 in the 200 IM for the first time, placing 4th in 1:39.93. He went onto place 3rd in the 400 IM (3:36.02) and 8th in the 200 back (1:39.48).
2016 Olympic Trials Cut in 400 IM
On June 4, 2016, 14-year-old Carson Foster swam the third-fastest 400 meter IM for 13-14 boys in U.S. history, scoring an Olympic Trials cut in the process. His time of 4:27.11 slipped in .18 under the standard of 4:27.49, setting a new Ohio LSC record.
2017 World Junior Championships
At the age of 15, Foster competed at the World Jr Champs in Indianapolis at the IUPUI natatorium. He not only contributed to the silver medal 4×200 free relay (1:48.12 on the 3rd leg), but also won a silver of his own, touching 2nd in the 200 back with a time of 1:57.87.
2018 Winter Jr National Championships – East
The Mason Manta Rays won the combined team title at 2018 Speedo Winter Junior Championships – East. The boys defended their 2017 team title with 537 points while the girls finished 6th in the team standings with 161 points. The top three individual point-scorers in the boys’ meet were all Manta Rays: Jake Foster (80), Adam Chaney (69), and Carson Foster (60).
Carson, for his part, contributed legs on the winning 200 & 400 medley and 200 & 800 free relays and the 2nd place 400 free relay. Carson also took individual titles in the 200 IM (1:42.54), 400 IM (3:40.86), and 200 back (1:41.20).
2018 Jr Pan Pacific Championships
Foster had a successful meet in Fiji, not only recording multiple best times, but also downing multiple legendary NAG records. On day 1, from the B heat, he swam a 1:48.57 in the 200 free (a time that would have gotten him 2nd overall), breaking Caeleb Dressel’s 15-16 NAG from 2013.
The next day, Foster did it again, this time winning the 400 IM ahead of is brother, Jake (who finished 2nd), in a time of 4:14.92, breaking Michael Phelps’ 15-16 NAG in the event from 2001. He won his 2nd gold of the night by anchoring Team USA’s 4×200 free relay to victory.
On Day 3, Foster won his 3rd gold of the meet, touching just ahead of his American teammate, Peter Larson, in the 200 back, 1:59.10 to 1:59.24.
To round out the meet, Foster touched 1st in the 200 IM, clocking a time of 1:59.86 to touch ahead of teammate Gianluca Urlando.
2019 OHSAA State Championships
Foster continued his to break barriers, both personally and nationally, at the 2019 Ohio State meet. He started off the finals session by helping Sycamore high school to a state title in the 200 medley relay.
In the very next event of the meet, the 200 free, Foster not only took the title by over 3 seconds, but broke the national high school record as well, becoming the first swimmer in high school competition to break the 1:33 barrier, touching at 1:32.99.
Foster went on to win the 100 back in 46.62 (he recorded a personal best of 46.28 in prelims), as well as help Sycamore to another state title in the 400 free relay, recording a personal best 43.61 lead-off.
2019 National Championships
The 2019 Summer national championships in Palo Alto, California, served as the selection meet for the 2019 World Jr Championships. In Palo Alto, Foster placed 2nd in the 400 IM (4:13.39), 6th in the 200 back (1:58.26), 9th in the 200 IM (1:58.69), and 11th in the 200 free (1:47.53).
Since Foster was the 1st or 2nd fastest eligible Jr in all 4 events, this qualified him to swim all 4 individually at the 2019 World Jr Champs.
2019 World Junior Championships
Before the start of the meet, Foster was voted as 1 of 5 captains for Team USA.
On day 1, Foster was called to anchor the 4×100 free relay in finals, where he split 48.92 to hold off the field and break the world junior record in a time of 3:15.80.
On day 2, Foster had a big day, swimming prelims and finals of both the 200 free and 200 IM. In the 200 free final, Foster touched at 1:47.47, just .08 outside of the medals in 5th place with a new personal best. Foster bounced back in the 200 IM, leading wire-to-wire to touch at 1:58.46, a new personal best and championship record as well as his first individual gold medal.
Foster anchored the 4×200 free relay on day 4, dropping a field best split of 1:46.10 to bring the USA home for gold and a new world junior record of 7:08.37.
On the final day of competition, Foster won silver in the 200 back, for behind his American teammate Wyatt Davis for 2nd in a time of 1:58.47.
2021 Olympic Trials
Pre-Olympic trials, swimming at a tune-up meet in his home pool of Austin, Foster swam a 4:11.16 in the 400 IM, priming him for an Olympic berth in the event.
On Day 1, Foster raced to the top seed in the 400 IM heading into finals. In those finals, Foster was out fast, but was passed by Chase Kalisz on the breaststroke leg and Jay Litherland on the last 50 of freestyle, touching 3rd and missing the Olympic team. Foster had another chance in the 200 free, but wound up 9th in the semi-finals before Luca Urlando scratched to focus on the 200 fly, giving him a spot on the final. In the final, Foster finished 8th overall in a personal best of 1:46.67, missing 6th place and another potential spot by .18.
In his last race at Trials, Foster placed 4th in the 200 IM with a 1:57.99.
Just a few weeks after the Olympic Trials, Foster competed at a local sectional meet in Austin where he swam the 400 IM. Foster won the event with a 4:08.46, crushing his best time and putting up the #1 time in the world.
2021 Short Course World Championships (Abu Dhabi, UAE)
At his first world champs, Carson hauled in a hat trick of medals, earning gold as a part of the 800 free relay, silver in the 200 IM, and bronze in the 400 IM.
2022 World Championship Trials
On night 2 in Greensboro, Foster made his first senior international team, placing 3rd in the 200 free to secure his spot on the world champ roster. The next day, Foster won the 400 IM in 4:09.33, giving him his first individual event.
2022 World Championships
On day 1 in Budapest, Foster earned his first major international hardware. Clocking a huge personal best of 4:06.56 in the 400 IM final, Foster came in 2nd behind Leon Marchand, earning silver.
Foster took his momentum into the 200 IM, moving through semis as the 2nd seed and holding seed into the final, once again earning silver behind Leon Marchand in a huge PB of 1:55.71.
2022 Short Course World Championships
In Melbourne, Foster matched or bettered all of his performances from the previous years SCM world champs. He once again earned gold in the 4×200 free relay and silver in the 200 IM while adding silver in the 400 IM. He also earned a bronze as a member of the 4×100 free relay and gold as a prelims swimmer of the winning 4×100 medley relay.
Shortly after his 3rd NCAA season, Carson Foster announced his decision to forego his final 2 years of NCAA eligibility (senior year + COVID 5th year) and turn professional. His pro career was kicked off the next day by his announcement that he had re-signed a suit contract with Mizuno, lasting through 2028.
You can listen to Foster dive into both decisions and more on the SwimSwam podcast here.
2023 U.S. International Team Trials (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Foster easily posted the top time of the morning in the men’s 200 fly. He was out in 53.67 at the 100, then split 1:00.63 on the back half for a 1:54.30–the only swimmer under 1:55 this morning. The swim was a season-best by .38 seconds over his 1:54.68 from the South Texas Open just a few weeks before and his second fastest swim ever behind his 1:53.67 from Austin Sectionals the summer prior. In the final, he dropped a 1:54.32, his second fastest swim ever, to qualify for World Championships.
In the 200 free, Foster posted a 1:45.64 to take second and try to get on the Worlds relay in prelims but dropped the finals. In the 400 IM, he cruised through prelims with a 4:13.13,
In the 400 IM final, Foster was out about a second ahead of Bobby Finke, Jay Litherland, and Chase Kalisz. He maintained the same gap over the backstroke with the three challengers near even. Kalisz moved towards Foster over the breast to take the lead at the 300 as Litherland and Finke fell back. Coming down the stretch it was Finke charging but he couldn’t make up the 3-second gap as Foster won in 4:08.14 and Kalisz claimed 2nd in 4:08.22 with the same 29.30 coming home. The times were the 3rd and 4th fastest in the world.
Foster’s last event was the 200 IM. He glided through prelims with a 1:58.56 to take the top seed. That morning, Kalisz, the other 400 IM qualifier, announced he had contracted food poisoning and would not contest the 200 IM. In the finals, it was all Foster as he smashed the field by over a second with a 1:56.19 season-best. Qualifying behind Foster was his training partner, Shaine Casas, who had held the top seed heading into the meet.
2023 World Aquatics Championships (Fukuoka, Japan)
In the 400 IM Foster led prelims with a 4:09.83. In the final, it was all Leon Marchand but Foster squarely put himself in 2nd, 4.06 seconds back of Marchand’s World Record of 4:02.50 but 2.85 seconds ahead of 3rd place Daiya Seto. Foster’s 4:06.56 exactly tied his personal best for silver from 2022 Worlds.
In the 200 fly, Foster was solid in prelims with a 1:55.36 and led semis with a 1:53.85. The next morning he was a relaxed 1:58.24 in the 200 IM heats. Taking on the 200 fly final and the 200 IM semi, Foster faltered in the 200 fly, sitting in 3rd at the 150 but fading on the last 50 to hit a 1:54.74 for 6th. He came back about a half an hour later with a 1:56.55 to secure his spot in the 200 IM final. In the final, Foster was 1:56.43 for 5th, just off his season best. Foster had redemption in the 800 free relay when he split 1:44.49 on the 2nd leg and helped the US win silver.