Michael Phelps Becomes Oldest to Win Individual Gold Swimming Medal


Michael Phelps‘ victory tonight gave him a number of different titles, and while it some ways tonight’s 200 fly final represented the dawning of a youth movement, it also saw a new mark set in terms of “old age.”  Michael Phelps, by winning the 200 fly over a field that included 2012 champion Chad LeClos, became the oldest swimmer to ever win an individual Olympic gold medal.

Phelps, who turned 31 last month,  competed in his first Olympics almost half his lifetime ago, at the age of 15.  He is now his fifth Olympic Games, and his fifth time competing in the 200 fly, and it is seems fitting that it was a victory in this event that gives him this title.

Previously the oldest male to win an individual gold medal was the legendary American swimmer Duke Kahanamoku, who won the 100 free at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp at the age of 30.  Kahanamoku ended his career with three Olympic gold medals total, including the 100 free in 1912, and the 4×200 free relay in 1920.  Phelps will be going for yet another gold in the 4×200 free relay later this session.

Inge de Bruijin of the Netherlands won a gold medal in the 50 free at the age of 30 in the 2004 Olympics.  She had won that event, along with the 100 free and the 100 fly, in 2000.  As far as we can tell, she is still the oldest female swimmer to win an individual Olympic gold medal.

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Leif Dyer
7 years ago

And suddenly, another American Anthony Erivn at 35 is the oldest gold medal winner in an individual Olympic swimming event.

7 years ago

Dara Torres was 0.01 away from holding this title! But, congrats to Phelps, proving age is just a number.

7 years ago

Oh man! I was wrong lol!!!! Dara did win for the freestyle relay. Ignore my drunken accusations! Sorry swimswam!

7 years ago

WRONG!!!!!!! Dara Torres won Olympic Gold in Women’s freestyle in Sydney at the age of 31. Do you not fact check, or do you just not care about women’s sports too?

Reply to  Amanda
7 years ago

Amanda – we love women’s sports. However, Dara Torres’ individual medals at the 2000 Olympics were all bronzes. Her two gold medals were both in relays.

If we’re speaking of relay golds, neither Phelps or Torres is the oldest.

You can read more on the subject here: https://swimswam.com/gold-medals-30-historically-rare-will/

Lennart van Haaften
7 years ago

Inge de Bruijn lost two records today. Ledecky won her 10th individual title at global long-course competitions (Olympics and World Aquatics Championships). They shared the record at 9.

Lane Four
7 years ago

I can remember when a girl retired at 16 and a male at 22. How the times have changed!

7 years ago

Just shows you that the stupid misconceptions about age are just that – stupid. Swimmers don’t peak at age 22, just like basketball players don’t peak at age 22!!!!!!
And phelps easily proves this…..

Bill Bell
7 years ago

I don’t know when the Duke was born but Injy (Holland’s Ingevde Bruijn) won the 50 free @ Athens 12 years should,less than a month shy of her 31st birthday ( August 24). So Phelps beats her by less than 60 days.

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