Winning medals across the 50, 100 and 200 at the same World Aquatics Championships is not an easy task. In fact, there are only a few swimmers who have accomplished this feat, which demands sprint skills (for the 50-meter events) and strategy and aerobic skills (for the 200-meter events).
Instagram’s Swimming Stats page has published the list of all swimmers who have won medals across 50/100/200 since the first World Aquatics Championships in 1973.
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The treble 50/100/200 freestyle was not a possible feat before 1986, since the 50 freestyle was contested for the first time that year. In Madrid, Matt Biondi became the first swimmer to win medals across all three distances: a gold medal in the 100 and two bronzes in the 50 and 200.
In other strokes, the 50-meter events were added to the World Aquatics Championship schedule in 2001. Since then, the same swimmer won medals across 50-100-200 in breaststroke events in six editions. Yuliya Efimova deserves a special mention, since she accomplished the feat three times. In 2013, she almost swept all three distances, winning gold medals in 50 and 200 and settling for silver in the 100. To this day, she is the only swimmer to ever win 50 and 200-meter events at the same World Aquatics Championships.
But it was not Efimova who has come the closest to winning all three distances. Another female breaststroker, Leisel Jones, won the women’s 100 and 200 breast in 2007, and only missed gold by seven one-hundredths of a second in the 50.
On the other hand, it is extremely rare for a swimmer to win medals across 50/100/200 in backstroke and butterfly. Only Evgeny Rylov (backstroke, 2019) and Laszlo Cseh (butterfly, 2015) have done that in these strokes.
Some people believe that winning medals across the 50, 100 and 200 has become harder over the years, since many swimmers have been specializing in certain distances. But, curiously, the World Aquatics Championships that saw more swimmers going to the podium of all three distances was the last one, in 2019. In Gwangju, Sarah Sjostrom (freestyle), Efimova (breaststroke) and Rylov (backstroke) did so – for the first time that three swimmers accomplished the feat in the same edition.