Swimmers With The Most World Records Set In One Calendar Year

We all know that Mark Spitz set seven world records during the 1972 Olympics, the same number achieved by Michael Phelps during the 2008 Olympics.

Setting seven world records in one calendar year is a rare feat, let alone doing so in the same meet. In fact, Spitz and Phelps set other world records in 1972 and 2008, respectively. Which brings the question: are they the swimmers who set the most world records in a calendar year? Instagram’s Swimming Stats page has published a list that answers this question.

The list takes into account only world records set in long course meters from 1957 on. But why 1957?

Prior to 1957, long course and short course records were not kept separately. For each distance and stroke, a record could be set in either a 25-meter pool or a 50-meter pool. World records could even be set in a 25-yard pool: a swim of 110 yards (about 100.6 meters), for example, could be recognized as a record in a 100-meter event.

In 1957, FINA started to accept records sets only in 50-meter pools – in 1991, FINA started to recognize records in 25-meter pools as well, and since then we have long course records and short course records.

The list published by Swimming Stats considers only long course world records. And, not surprisingly, the swimmer who set the most world records in a calendar year is Mark Spitz, in 1972. In that year, he registered a record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics, a feat surpassed by Michael Phelps in 2008. All of Spitz’ medals in 1972 were captured in world-record time (men’s 100 and 200 freestyle, 100 and 200 butterfly, 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle, and 4×100 medley.) During the U.S. Olympic Trials earlier that year, he had set five world records in the 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly (twice) and 200 butterfly (twice).

Also, Spitz appears one more time on the list, as he set eight world records in 1967, which happened to be the first world records of his career.

Dutch woman Inge de Bruijn set 12 world records in her career, 11 of them in 2000. All of them were set in individual events, the most in history by any swimmer. 2000 was the best year of her career, as she won three gold medals and set three world records during the Sydney Olympics. In the 50 freestyle, she set the world record no less than four times over the year.

Tied with Chet Jastremski and Kornelia Ender is Michael Phelps with nine world records in 2008: seven from his historic performance at the 2008 Olympics (men’s 200 freestyle, 200 butterfly, 200 and 400 IM, 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle, and 4×100 medley), and two more at the U.S. Olympic Trials (200 and 400 IM). Phelps also set eight world records in 2003, all in individual events, including four in the 200 IM.

Speaking of Jastremski, he achieved an amazing feat in 1961: of his nine world records set that year, six of them were set in the 100 breaststroke. He is the swimmer with the most world records set in the same event in a calendar year since 1957.

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Bill
10 months ago

Well… in 1925 Arne Borg from Sweden set 9 WR. and Weissmuller 13 WR.
It is important not to forget ‘or sweep away’ the older legends and their achievements. Weissmuller have a total 52 official WR and 67 if you include those who were WR but who the organizers did not submit for verification.

Bill
10 months ago

Well… in 1925 Arne Borg from Sweden set 9 WR. and J. Weissmuller 13 WR.

Michael Fasching
10 months ago

Can’t believe you have female GDR Athlets in this chart!!! 😤

swimfast
10 months ago

We forget 2003 was a siiick year for Phelps. Barcelona. (one of the venues) Where it started it all?

Marklewis
10 months ago

The 1970s was the decade for WRs. Maybe 1976 was the peak. The 1976 Olympics was one WR after another.

Kornelia Ender just crushed everyone in 1976 except for that free relay. Her records were tainted of course.

Last edited 10 months ago by Marklewis
Ferb
10 months ago

I’m curious how you would go 110 yards in a 25-yard pool prior to 1957.

Admin
Reply to  Ferb
10 months ago

Races used to stop in the middle of the pool.

They also used to make 55 yard pools.

Ferb
Reply to  Braden Keith
10 months ago

I knew about the long course yards pools, but the stopping in the middle is new to me.

JVW
Reply to  Ferb
10 months ago

I think there are still some videos on YouTube of races in the 1940s and 50s which stop in the middle of the pool. It’s quite weird to see.

Last edited 10 months ago by JVW
Blackflag82
Reply to  Ferb
10 months ago

There are some good videos illustrating this on YT if you search 1961 220 back or butterfly.

Ferb
Reply to  Blackflag82
10 months ago

Well I’ll be darned. That was interesting.

Ferb
10 months ago

The headline didn’t mention LCM. I was going to guess Katinka Hosszu.

Sam B
10 months ago

relays seem irrelevant for this list