Ledecky Ties Lochte For #2 All-Time In Individual Worlds Golds

2017 FINA WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

On the heels of her move to #3 all-time in overall World Championships gold medalsKatie Ledecky has moved into a tie with Ryan Lochte for the second-most individual gold medals in history. Ledecky is also on the cusp of cracking the top 5 in career individual World Champs medals of any color.

Lochte and Ledecky have both won 10 individual gold medals over their careers. Lochte has also added 8 relay golds and Ledecky 4 relay golds.

The top 10 in individual golds is pretty stacked with active swimmers. Lochte is technically still active (though he’s out on suspension this summer), as is Ledecky, #4 Sun Yang  and three of the four tied for #7: Katinka Hosszu, Sarah Sjostrom and Cesar Cielo. That whole crew has 6 individual golds for their careers.

Here’s a look at the most-decorated swimmers in World Championships history, per our research. As we had to sift through previous years to factor out relay medals, these lists could be missing a swimmer. If that’s the case, let us know in the comments section and we’ll try to confirm their medal total as soon as we can.

Note: These figures include medals won at long course World Championships meets only. They do not include Olympics or Short Course World Championships.

Most Individual Golds in History

Rank Name Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Michael Phelps 15 5 0 20
2 Ryan Lochte 10 3 3 16
2 Katie Ledecky 10 1 0 11
4 Sun Yang 9 2 1 12
5 Grant Hackett 7 6 1 14
5 Aaron Peirsol 7 1 0 8
7 Katinka Hosszu 6 1 5 12
7 Sarah Sjostrom 6 3 1 10
7 Ian Thorpe 6 1 1 8
7 Cesar Cielo 6 0 0 6

Most Individual Medals in History

Rank Name Total Gold Silver Bronze
1 Michael Phelps 20 15 5 0
2 Ryan Lochte 16 10 3 3
3 Grant Hackett 14 7 6 1
4 Sun Yang 12 9 2 1
4 Katinka Hosszu 12 6 1 5
6 Katie Ledecky 11 10 1 0
7 Sarah Sjostrom 10 6 3 1
8 Leisel Jones 9 4 4 1
9 Aaron Peirsol 8 7 1 0
9 Ian Thorpe 8 6 1 1
11 Missy Franklin 7 4 1 2
11 Libby Trickett 7 4 1 2
11 Brendan Hansen 7 4 2 1
11 Michael Gross 7 4 3 0
11 Matt Welsh 7 3 3 1
11 Natalie Coughlin 7 2 1 4

Most Overall Golds in History (including relays)

Rank Name Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Michael Phelps 26 6 1 33
2 Ryan Lochte 18 5 4 27
3 Katie Ledecky 14 1 0 15
4 Missy Franklin 11 2 3 16
4 Ian Thorpe 11 1 1 13
6 Grant Hackett 10 6 3 19
6 Aaron Peirsol 10 2 0 12
8 Sun Yang 9 2 3 14
9 Natalie Coughlin 8 7 5 20
9 Libby Trickett 8 3 4 15
9 Kornelia Ender 8 2 0 10
12 Jenny Thompson 7 5 2 14
12 Leisel Jones 7 4 3 14

Most Overall Medals in History (including relays)

Rank Name Total Gold Silver Bronze
1 Michael Phelps 33 26 6 1
2 Ryan Lochte 27 18 5 4
3 Natalie Coughlin 20 8 7 5
4 Grant Hackett 19 10 6 3
5 Missy Franklin 16 11 2 3
6 Libby Trickett 15 8 3 4
6 Katie Ledecky 15 14 1 0
8 Sun Yang 14 9 2 3
8 Jenny Thompson 14 7 5 2
8 Leisel Jones 14 7 4 3

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Lennart van Haaften
4 years ago

Yefimova (11 individual medals) is missing.

Lennart van Haaften
Reply to  Lennart van Haaften
4 years ago

And Pellegrini

Patrick S
Reply to  Lennart van Haaften
4 years ago

And Alshammar.

SchoolingFTW
4 years ago

The list is dominated by active swimmers, because:
1. World championships only started to become once every two years starting in 2001. Before, it was once in 4 years event just like the Olympics. At one point it was even 5 years in between: 1986 followed by 1991
2. Continual addition of new events: 50 free, 4×200, m800 free, w1500 free, 50 strokes, mixed relays.
eg. Comerford in her first world championships already has 4 golds (5 golds by the end of Day 8) to her name despite winning zero individual medal. Five world championships golds! and Pieter van Den Hoogenband has ZERO worlds golds.

northernsue
Reply to  SchoolingFTW
4 years ago

Yeah, the addition of the mixed relays seems like it will render comparisons more and more useless between swimmers of various events/time periods/countries. If you’re a sprinter from a country like the US, you can really crank up the medal counts through relays. I don’t mean to belittle relay medals, but to me they do seem a different kind of achievement.

mcgillrocks
Reply to  northernsue
4 years ago

Especially when you can win 4 or 5 medals from relays alone. Compared to someone from a country with weaker relays, or even a distance swimmer, the medal potential can really get inflated.

Joe
Reply to  SchoolingFTW
4 years ago

These individual lists are a good start for modern day comparisons at least.

Boknows34
4 years ago

Otto, Hoff, Montgomery and Klim also have 7 golds overall (including relays).

Most Individual Medals:
Efimova 11 (with 50m breast final later today)
5G 4S 2B

Pellegrini 9
5G 3S 1B

aquajosh
Reply to  Boknows34
4 years ago

Mary T. Meagher would lead everyone in individual golds if it weren’t for East Germany and swimmers from China that were the recipients of their training program (and drugs). She would have won 6 golds in Madrid 1986 alone. In addition to the fly events, she would have won the 200 free, all the relays, and if you believe Tamara Costache was drugged (I do), she would have also won a bronze in the 100 free. Instead, she walked away with one gold medal (200 fly), and the US women’s team was considered a failure because they only brought home two gold medals from Madrid.

She would have ten total from just two appearances (1982 and 1986), and nine of… Read more »

G.I.N.A
Reply to  aquajosh
4 years ago

IIrc Mary T ‘s times were much slower rather than the DDR besting them . She simply was not the slip of a girl by 17 she was at14-16 .nor did she have her original coach .

Emanuele
Reply to  aquajosh
4 years ago

Yeah, everyone beside the US athletes are dope.

mcgillrocks
Reply to  Emanuele
4 years ago

We know for a fact that 99% of East German athletes across most Olympic sports were part of a systematic, state-sponsored doping program. It is in no way jingoistic to imply that knowingly or unknowling, the East Germans were being given vast quantities of illegal drugs that significantly improved their performance.

Liam
4 years ago

Will ledecky get extra money (bonus) because of the championship records she broke?

Liam
Reply to  Liam
4 years ago

And how much is the extra money?

mcgillrocks
4 years ago

Lowkey, Sun Yang has really pushed his way up the list. 9 World titles (and 3 Olympic Golds) puts him near the top of the all-time standings. He could certainly move ahead of Lochte and approach Phelps if he swims through 2024.

With his move to shorter events, I’ve noticed he looks a lot like Ian Thorpe. He doesn’t have Thorpe’s credentials in the 200 and 400 but has an advantage in the 800 IMO and is decisively better in the 1500 than Thorpe ever was. It’s possible that Sun Yang will retire as accomplished as Thorpe is (based purely on medals and disregarding doping, splashing, no-shows and other controversies).

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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