Where Penny Oleksiak’s Performance Ranks Amongst Best Teens In Olympic History

Penny Oleksiak was the most dominant teenager at the 2016 Olympic Games by far, taking home one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals for Canada in the pool.

Her performance ties her as Canada’s most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time with four total medals, and puts her in a very impressive category amongst teen swimmers in general.

We took a look through the history of Olympic swimming to see who had the most dominant teen performances at the Olympic Games, and Oleksiak’s performance in Rio ranks her 11th overall in terms of most medals at one edition of a Games.

1. MICHAEL PHELPS  – USA

  • TOTAL: 8 Olympic medals
  • 2004
  • 6 x Gold
  • 2 x Bronze

2. Katie Ledecky – USA

  • TOTAL: 5 Olympic medals
  • 2016
  • 4 x Gold
  • 1 x Silver

3. SHIRLEY BABASHOFF – USA

*Babashoff was largely cheated of her gold medals by the East Germans who were proven to be doping. There has been no correction thus far from the IOC to disqualify the East Germans which would bring Babashoff’s already impressive 1976 run to 5 Olympic golds.

  • TOTAL: 5 Olympic medals
  • 1976
  • 1 x Gold
  • 4 x Silver

4. KORNELIA ENDER  – EAST GERMANY

*Although Ender has never been officially disqualified from the Olympic Games it’s known that she was part of the East German doping ring.

  • TOTAL: 5 Olympic medals
  • 1976
  • 4 x Gold
  • 1x Silver

5. MISSY FRANKLIN – USA

  • TOTAL: 5 Olympic medals
  • 2012
  • 4x Gold
  • 1x Silver

6. IAN THORPE  – AUSTRALIA

  • TOTAL: 5 Olympic medals
  • 2000
  • 3 x gold
  • 2 x silver

7. SHANE GOULD – Australia

  • TOTAL: 5 Olympic medals
  • 1972
  • 3x Gold
  • 1x Silver
  • 1x Bronze

8. CHARLES DANIELS – USA 

  • TOTAL: 5 Olympic medals
  • 1904
  • 3 x Gold
  • 2 x Silver

9. RIE MASTENBROEK – NETHERLANDS

  • TOTAL: 4 Olympic medals
  • 1936
  • 3x Gold
  • 1x Silver

10. INES DIERS – EAST GERMANY

*Many countries boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games eliminating a lot of the heavier competition. Diers was also part of the East German regime that was doping.

  • TOTAL: 5 Olympic medals
  •  1980
  • 2x Gold
  • 2x Silver
  • 1x Bronze

11. PENNY OLEKSIAK

  • TOTAL: 4 Olympic medals
  • 2016
  • 1x Gold
  • 1x Silver
  • 2x Bronze

By looking at the above list, Oleksiak’s performance ranks her among the best teenagers in Olympic swimming history with a total of four medals.

By using this ranking system, she ranks seventh among teenage women competing at the Olympic Games. Two of the women that beat her however were part of the East German doping ring that hasn’t had their medals revoked by the IOC.

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canadaman11
5 years ago

Does anyone have an idea of what program Oleksiak could swim in 2020? I’m guessing she could add the 200 free, maybe the 200fly…. any thoughts?

Alex Simmonds
Reply to  canadaman11
5 years ago

i think if we look at any event that she could compete
1. 50 free : i think she should try in this event because as we see with some surprise in rio and some under performance she can get medal in 2020 but in the junior there is rikkako ikee who will perform in her home also there are few junior sprinter who is really fast ( Medal Chance )
2. 100 free : This event is her biggest chance to get a gold medal, cate campbell will be 28 in 2020, bronte too. So her only competitor mighrt be only simone manuel and also there seem no big junior prospect in this event ( Big Gold… Read more »

Naya Missy
5 years ago

Canada doesn’t have dominant relay swimmers like the US does, or otherwise Penny Oleksiak would have another medal + a few golds/silvers instead of bronzes. Can’t wait to see what she does in the next few years.

1ProudCanuck
5 years ago

What about the most decorated teenager in their first Olympics?

Alex Simmonds
Reply to  1ProudCanuck
5 years ago

I think it will be missy franklin 1st when she got 5 medals in 2012

Swimmy88
5 years ago

So Katie Ledecky isn’t one of the best….

Admin
Reply to  Swimmy88
5 years ago

I think Mitch must’ve thought she had another birthday pre-Rio. Updated.

About Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile

Mitch worked for 5-years with SwimSwam news as a web producer focusing on both Canadian and international content. He coached for Toronto Swim Club for four seasons as a senior coach focusing on the development of young swimmers. Mitch is an NCCP level 2 certified coach in Canada and an ASCA Level …

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