Welcome To The New Age Of Swimming

Names like Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Aaron Peirsol, and others have absolutely dominated the talk of the sport over the last 10-odd years, but now the torch is finally being passed to a new age of swimming.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games were special, having only two repeat winners in individual events, Michael Phelps in the 200m IM and Katie Ledecky in the 800m freestyle.

This allowed for many first-time Olympians to step up and earn their spot in the limelight. Of those who managed to get on the podium were several first time Olympians who have now established themselves as major players in the sport. Many of them are young, with plenty of progression still to be had as we usher in the new age of swimming.

Lilly King (19)

Lilly King had all Americans on her side when she called out Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova for her previous doping violations, and then beat her in order to win gold. The 19-year-old Indiana swimmer broke the Olympic record with a time of 1:04.93 in order to take home the gold and establish herself as the fastest breststroker in the world.  A relatively unknown name among even most swimming circles prior to these games, King is now on the map as America’s breaststroker.

Pernille Blume (22)

If you asked anybody who would win the 50m freestyle prior to these Olympic Games, almost nobody would have said Pernille Blume from Denmark. Blume took plenty of time off the previous Danish record in the 50 to win the event in a time of 24.07. She beat the defending Olymipic champion, the favorite to win gold, and is now right in the mix as one of the best sprinters on the planet.

Penny Oleksiak (16)

Sixteen-year-old Penny Oleksiak dropped jaws this week at the Olympics by exceeding everyone’s expectations. She could very well be the next big thing in swimming after her performances at these games. The young Canadian earned four medals including two pieces of individual hardware. She finished second in the 10om fly and tied for first in the 100m freestyle, breaking both world junior records. Oleksiak is on the map as the biggest rising talent of this generation.

Simone Manuel (20)

Simone Manuel earned two individual medals at these games along with two relay medals bringing her total to two gold, two silver. Manuel tied with Oleksiak in the 100m freestyle to claim her first individual gold. She was also the first black woman to ever win an Olympic gold in swimming, breaking down stereotypes within our sport and inspiring the next generation of swimmers. Manuel also took silver in the 50m freestyle and looks to be one of the best sprinters in the world moving forward.

Dmitriy Balandin (21)

Dmitriy Balandin shocked the world in the 200m breaststroke, winning the race from an outside lane to win Kazakhstan’s first ever swimming medal. Balandin didn’t come into the Olympics as a nobody, sweeping the breaststrokes at the 2014 Asian Games. These were his first Olympics and the medal was his first piece of major international hardware.

Ryan Murphy (21)

Move over Aaron Peirsol, Ryan Murphy is the new king of backstroke. The young American managed to win both backstroke events at the Olympics, and took home a third gold as a member of the 4x100m medley relay. On the relay he broke the world record in the individual 100m backstroke with a time of 51.85, erasing the time Peirsol recorded in 2009.

Kyle Chalmers (18)

Australian Kyle Chalmers dropped out of school to focus on these Olympic Games and the result was an Olympic gold in swimming’s blue ribbon event, the 100m freestyle. Chalmers beat his fellow countrymen Cameron McEvoy who was favored to win gold, along with several other top level competitors. His impressive relay splits throughout the meet only furthered the fact that Chalmers, at just 18-years-old, is on the rise to being the undisputed best 100m freestyler in the world.

Joseph Schooling (21)

Joseph Schooling‘s fame stems from one race, the men’s 100m butterfly. In it, he took down Michael Phelps, and was the only man to be able to do so all week in Rio. Schooling won the event in a new textile best time of 50.39, erasing the 50.40 that Ian Crocker established back in 2005. Schooling won Singapore’s first swimming medal in the process and returned to his country a hero. The 50.39 puts Schooling into territory nobody has ever been in before.

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7 years ago

Kenderesi & Duncan Scott and we will see more from Dressel.

7 years ago


Carmen Escobar
7 years ago

While it is nice to see the new generation raising, it would be a lot better to see them stronger as they get older. I am not a fan of teenagers being the stars of the game. Swimmers should be mentally and physically mature to truly show what are they capable of. It is good to see the talent coming, but it’s a lot more interesting (and we can appreciate it more) to see them in full swing as adults.
Good Olympics tho! (at least for the clean athletes it was an interesting meet, with lots of ups and downs, just like the way should be)

Reply to  Carmen Escobar
7 years ago

Phelps and Persiol were teenagers in Sydney. When teenagers perform that well it shows that the sport is progressing very fast. Seeing teenagers win should make you excited about the future.

7 years ago

I like the theme of this article.

It’s time for a new crop of stars to take over the spotlight.

It’s good for the medals to be spread around.

As long as the medals aren’t won by “drug cheats.”

Maybe Lilly King vs. Efimova will be the new Phelps-Lochte showdown to watch. Yulia was blazing on that relay split.

7 years ago

“The 50.39 puts Schooling into territory nobody has ever been in before.”

0.01s puts you into territory nobody has ever been before? Crocker begs to differ.

Reply to  Lili
7 years ago

I’m a crocker fan, but .01 is the difference between winning and losing, cavic would have been happy to be .01 faster. JS beat Ians Textile best time, thats in territory no one has been. and beating it puts him in new territory, (granted its not like star trek bolding going where no man has ever been before, more like a tiny step further than crocker)

Yabo Squandrant
Reply to  mcmflyguy
7 years ago

Ledecky is star trek

7 years ago

One small correction, the WR holder in the women’s 50 free, Britta Steffen, had retired and was not in the field that Blume topped. I know, I’m being pedantic.

7 years ago

I suspect there will be a lot of swimmers retiring after these trials/Olympics. Is there a round up of all of those hanging up their suits?

7 years ago

And these are just the medal winners. Many, many more names made impacts on these games. Exciting times ahead!

Reply to  Onehandtouch
7 years ago

What excitement from watching all our swimmers compete. We are way to restrictive in this article on the “new” age of swimming by focusing on just the medal winners. They certainly deserve all the respect for achieving a lifelong goal or sudden perfect storm. These games will also be the catapult for the “rookies” though they did not medal, will use the experience and understanding of the process (along with the mental and physical requirements) necessary to get back to work. The rookie list is long and filled with immense potential on both men and women teams. USA has a great future.

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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