Into The History

by Daniel Takata 2

December 28th, 2022 Records, SwimmingStats

This article originally appeared in the 2022 Year In Review edition of SwimSwam Magazine. Subscribe here to the SwimSwam Magazine here.

In 2022, several swimmers became the first of their countries to win medals at major competitions. Other swimmers managed to win historic medals for their countries. Let’s get to know who they are and what they’ve achieved.


All swimmers who won medals at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships represent countries that had won medals before. So, there was no new country on the podium this time. Nevertheless, here are some interesting facts:

  • Before 2022, Romania had won two gold medals with Tamara Costache (50 freestyle in 1986) and Diana Mocanu (200 backstroke in 2001). Which means that, by winning the men’s 100 and 200 freestyle, David Popovici became the first male swimmer from Romania to ever win gold medals at World Championships.
  • Lithuania has won seven medals in history, two of them gold. And those two medals were won by Ruta Meilutyte, who won the 100 breaststroke in 2013 and won the 50 breaststroke this year.
  • In the history of the competition, South Africa has won 32 medals, but most of them were won by male swimmers. The first medal won in women’s events was a silver medal by Tatjana Schoenmaker in 2019. In 2022, Lara van Niekerk got the second one, a bronze in the 50 breaststroke.
  • Until 2022, only one swimmer from South Korea had won medals at World Aquatics Championships. His name is Park Tae-Hwan, winner of two golds (400 freestyle in 2007 and 2011) and one bronze (200 freestyle in 2007). In Budapest, Hwang Sun-Woo became only the second swimmer from South Korea to go to the podium, as he won a silver in the men’s 200 freestyle.
  • By winning the men’s 4×100 medley relay, Italy won their first gold medal in the event. This was also their first medal ever in the event, and their first gold in any relay, any gender.
  • There were plenty of events with new countries winning gold medals. There are even some swimmers who had won gold medals before, but never in these events. For example, Kristof Milak, world champion in the men’s 200 butterfly in 2019, won the first gold ever for Hungary in the 100 butterfly in 2022. Take a look at the following table:

Events with new countries that won gold medals at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships

Event Country Swimmer
W 200 freestyle China Yang Junxuan
W 50 backstroke Canada Kylie Masse
W 50 breaststroke Lithuania Ruta Meilutyte
W 100 breaststroke Italy Benedetta Pilato
W 200 butterfly Canada Summer McIntosh
W 400 IM Canada Summer McIntosh
M 50 freestyle Great Britain Ben Proud
M 100 freestyle Romania David Popovici
M 200 freestyle Romania David Popovici
M 800 freestyle United States Bobby Finke
M 100 backstroke Italy Thomas Ceccon
M 50 breaststroke United States Nic Fink
M 100 breaststroke Italy Nicolo Martinenghi
M 200 breaststroke Australia Zac Stubblety-Cook
M 100 butterfly Hungary Kristof Milak
M 200 IM France Leon Marchand
M 400 IM France Leon Marchand
M 4×100 medley Italy T. Ceccon, N. Martinenghi,

F. Burdisso, A. Miressi


  • In the 2022 edition of the European Championships, 16-year-old Lana Pudar from Bosnia and Herzegovina was the only swimmer who brought a country to the podium for the first time in the history of the competition when she won the bronze in the women’s 100 butterfly. Two days later, she also won the first gold medal ever for BIH by winning the women’s 200 butterfly.
  • This was just the latest in a long line of BIH history made by Pudar. In 2021, she became the first BIH swimmer in history to achieve the Olympic A qualifying time. In Tokyo, she qualified for the Olympic final, then in December of 2021, she won the first major international medal in BIH history, earning bronze in the women’s 200 butterfly at the 2021 SC World Championships. She also became the first swimmer from Bosnia and Herzegovina to qualify for an LC World Championships final, as in Budapest she finished sixth in the 200 butterfly and sixth in the 100 butterfly.
  • By winning the bronze medal in the men’s 50 butterfly, Diogo Ribeiro won the third medal ever for Portugal. The other two were won by Alexandre Yokochi (silver in the men’s 200 breaststroke in 1985) and Alexis Santos (bronze in the men’s 200 IM in 2016). In 2022, Ribeiro also became the first Portuguese swimmer to win a gold medal at the World Junior Championships, as he won the 50 freestyle and 50 butterfly.
  • Ruta Meilutyte won the third medal in history for Lithuania by winning the women’s 50 breaststroke. The first two were won by Meilutyte herself (50 breaststroke in 2014 and 100 breaststroke in 2016).
  • Anastasia Gorbenko won the women’s 200 IM and repeated her win from 2021 in the event. She is just the second Israeli swimmer to win a European title, the other one being Jonatan Kopelev who won the men’s 50 backstroke in 2012.
  • Lisa Mamie became the third Swiss swimmer to win a gold medal at European Championships by winning the women’s 200 breaststroke. The other ones are Flavia Rigamonti (800 freestyle in 2000 and 1500 freestyle in 2008) and Jeremy Desplanches (200 IM in 2018).


  • During the 2022 World Championships, Daniel Wiffen already had become the first Irish swimmer to crack the 15-minute barrier in the men’s 1500 freestyle. A few weeks later, he went even further: he again broke his national record and became the first able-bodied swimmer from Northern Ireland to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games by winning the silver medal in the event. Barry McLement, a para-swimmer won bronze in the S9 100 back a few days earlier.
  • Until this year, only one Singaporean swimmer had won a medal at the Commonwealth Games: Olympic champion Joseph Schooling won a silver medal in the men’s 100 butterfly in 2014. In 2022, Teong Tzen Wei won the second medal for Singapore in history by winning the silver in the men’s 50 butterfly.
  • Before 2022, South Africa had won only two gold medals in individual women’s events. This year, the South African women won more individual gold medals than in all previous editions combined, as they swept the breaststroke events – Lara van Niekerk won the 50 and 100, and Olympic champion Tatjana Schoenmaker won the 200.

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5 months ago

Popovici just started to write history. Next year, he will write the next chapter.

NornIron Swim
5 months ago

Small edit…
Barry McLements won bronze in the S9 100 bk for NI’s 1st C’ Games medal.
Wiffin’s silver (a couple of days later) was the 1st able bodied medal.
There had been a few close calls before. Notably Marion Madine’s 4th place in the 1994 games behind 3 Aussies.