Roland Schoeman Set To Become The Oldest Swimmer Ever At The World Championships

South African Roland Schoeman was selected in March, after the South African National Championships, to compete at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka. In Fukuoka, he is set to swim the men’s 50 freestyle and the 50 butterfly.

What stands out is that he returns to Fukuoka 22 years after having competed at the 2001 Worlds, his debut, where he won the bronze medal in the 50 free. He will be returning to compete at the World Championships after a 10-year hiatus – his last appearance was in 2013, when he placed seventh in the 50 free.

Swimming Stats’ Instagram page has published the list of the oldest swimmers who are set to compete in Fukuoka. Schoeman will be 43 years and 19 days old when the swimming events begin next Sunday. He will be the only swimmer over 40 competing in Fukuoka.

At 37, Chile’s Kristel Kobrich will be the oldest among the women. In Fukuoka, she will complete 11 appearances at the World Aquatics Championships, the most ever by any swimmer. No other swimmer has more than nine appearances.

Among the 10 oldest swimmers in Fukuoka, four have already won medals in previous editions: Schoeman (gold in the 50 freestyle in 2005 and bronze in 2001, gold in the 50 butterfly in 2005 and 2007, and silver in the 100 freestyle in 2005), Brazil’s Joao Gomes Junior (silver in the 50 breaststroke in 2017 and bronze in 2019), Spain’s Jessica Vall (bronze in the 200 breaststroke in 2015) and Italy’s Piero Codia (gold in the 4×100 medley in 2022).

In fact, Schoeman will not only be the oldest swimmer at the 2023 edition: he will become the oldest swimmer in history to compete at World Aquatics Championships.

Previously, the oldest was Brazilian Nicholas Santos, who, aged 42 years and 125 days, won the silver medal in the 50 butterfly in 2022. If Santos competed in Fukuoka, he would be even older than Schoeman, but he announced his retirement at the end of last year.

Among women, American Dara Torres swam the 50 freestyle final in 2009, where she finished in 8th place, aged 42 years and 109 days.

Below you’ll find the 10 oldest swimmers to ever have competed at World Aquatics Championships in pool events. If the list considered open water athletes too, there would be another swimmer over 40: Germany’s Angela Maurer, who was 41 years old when he last competed in 2017.

In Fukuoka, two other swimmers who are on the list of the 10 oldest of all time will compete: Kristel Kobrich and Joao Gomes Junior.

Oldest Swimmers To Compete at World Aquatics Championships – Pool Events

Swimmer Year Event Age
Nicholas Santos (BRA) 2022 M 50 butterfly 42 years, 125 days
Dara Torres (USA) 2009 W 50 freestyle 42 years, 109 days
Serkan Atasay (TUR) 2009 M 100 butterfly 39 years, 143 days
Aikaterini Sarakatsani (GRE) 2015 W 4×100 medley 38 years, 218 days
Lars Frolander (SWE) 2011 M 4×100 medley 37 years, 66 days
Mark Warnecke (GER) 2007 M 50 breaststroke 37 years, 40 days
Kristel Kobrich (CHI) 2022 W 800 freestyle 36 years, 318 days
Joao Gomes Junior (BRA) 2022 M 4×100 medley 36 years, 155 days
Sven Lodziewski (GER) 2001 M 4×100 freestyle 36 years, 129 days
Jules Yao Bessan (BEN) 2015 M 50 freestyle 36 years, 115 days

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SwimSwam Conmenter
1 month ago

Lost all respect for Schoeman when he got busted for doping. No room in the sport for cheating.

1 month ago

I wanna have what he’s having!

2 months ago

Lists dominated by countries where it’s easier to make teams. And 50m specialists.

2 months ago

I know Icould look it up but I’d rather learn about it in the swimswam comments: is Roland in anyway related to Triathlete Henry Shoeman?

Cmon now
2 months ago

Test him

2 months ago

Dope, I’m juiced up to see him race.

2 months ago

Santos would probably still medal here if he didn´t retire..

Reply to  Rafael
2 months ago

I’d wager He’d probably win if he was still competing

2 months ago

Santos is still the oldest clean swimmer to ever compete

Reply to  SwamFly
2 months ago


Steve Nolan
Reply to  SwamFly
2 months ago

lol aw, he doesn’t know.

Reply to  SwamFly
2 months ago

Also how did he only get one year for this? Absolutely absurd

Reply to  SwamFly
2 months ago

Oh, he wasn’t clean in 2011, when he and half the Brazilian team tested positive…

Last edited 2 months ago by FST
Reply to  SwamFly
2 months ago

…you’re aware I’m sure that Santos had a doping ding earlier in his career too, yeah?

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 months ago

These are excellent points. Santos was cleared by FINA and Schoeman got suspended so I definitely forgot he was one of the Brazilians who somehow won his appeal. I had a good laugh (at myself) when looking over these, thank you all for comments!