Which Swimmers Have The Longest Annual Streak of Being Ranked In The World’s Top 10?

Currently, there are some swimmers who have been showing amazing consistency atop the sport for an extended period of time. They have been among the fastest swimmers in the world for more than a decade. And their names are very well known by swimming fans.

Swimming Stats’ Instagram page has published the list of swimmers with the most consecutive years in the world’s top 10 by the end of 2022.

Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom ended 2009 with the fastest time in the world in the women’s 100 butterfly. In fact, she broke the world record in the event during the 2009 World Aquatics Championships in Rome at the age of 15. Since then, she has been finishing each year among the top 10 in the world—including in 2016, when she became Olympic champion.

Currently, this is the biggest streak among all swimmers: 14 years as a year-end top 10. She finished 2022 as the eighth-fastest swimmer in the world in the 100 fly, her worst ranking since 2009, which is justifiable, since she did not swim the event at major meets, and the event is no longer her primary focus.

In fact, she has been finishing each year since 2009 as a top 10 swimmer also in the 50 butterfly, an event she has held the world record in since 2014. Sjostrom also has been a top 10 swimmer in the 100 freestyle for 13 years, since 2010.

Among men, the biggest streak is held by Brazil’s Bruno Fratus. Although he has never topped the world ranking in the 50 freestyle, he has been showing incredible consistency since 2010 and he has been a top 10 swimmer in the world for 13 consecutive years.

Japan’s Ryosuke Irie appeared in the world’s top 10 for 15 consecutive years between 2007 and 2021 in the men’s 200 backstroke. This means he could’ve completed his 16th year as a top-10 swimmer in the world in 2022, but he only managed to rank 14th last year, so his streak was snapped.

Another interesting fact: American Katie Ledecky has been appearing in the women’s 800 freestyle top 10 for 11 years, since 2012. Not only this, but she has also been on top of the world ranking every and each one of those years. Currently, this is, by far, the biggest streak among all swimmers as a year-end world’s #1.

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Canadian Swimmer
5 months ago

Sjostrom’s streak is almost as old as she was when she started it 🤯

Reply to  Canadian Swimmer
5 months ago

in 2008 Sarah was 14th with a 58.3 and it took a 58.1 to be Top 10 (she was 14), so just a little off from making it 15 years in a row

Awsi Dooger
5 months ago

Sprint or distance throughout the list. Logical. It would be interesting to see a breakdown among the 200s at each stroke.

5 months ago

Psych sheets are out for the first Pro Swim Series meet and Simone Manuel is back in action.

5 months ago

Fun Fact:

Katie Ledecky did not swim the women’s 1500 meter freestyle in calendar year 2016.

Katie Ledecky has been on top of the world ranking in the women’s 1500 meter freestyle for the following calendar years: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022


Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
5 months ago

And 2019 too back then she was sick at world championship and the year that she didn’t swim she would have won it and that’s how dominant she is in longer distance events.

Reply to  Lisa
5 months ago

She still swum the 1500 in 2019 just not in the final at worlds.

5 months ago

This is for swimmers that have an active streak. Like they said Irie has a longer streak but it is not longer active. Would be interesting to see who had the longest streak of all. One would assume is was Phelps but sometimes these stats surprise you.

Last edited 5 months ago by AndySUP
Reply to  AndySUP
5 months ago

A big part of the problem is that swimming has historically been really bad at keeping data (which is surprising since data is the entire sport). So it’s hard to go back far enough to say all-time ever.

Reply to  Braden Keith
5 months ago

I think there have been a few people that have had an excellent set of rankings (maybe even on behalf of a company or organization) and then those rankings were removed (maybe when said person parted ways with the company/organization). I now wish I had saved them (SCY, SCM, LCM since I was in middle school through 2005-ish). Hopefully, someone has copies or knows said people and can acquire a copy. The SCM & LCM for the 1980s, 1990s, etc even used to be online on a website (they are not there and have not been there for a long time).

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  AndySUP
5 months ago

Phelps can’t have more than Irie’s 15 due to his retirement in 2013

Reply to  AndySUP
5 months ago

Duke Kahanamoku first broke the world record in the 100 freestyle in 1911, and at the 1924 Olympics he still managed to win the silver medal. He was thus likely among the world’s top two 100 freestylers for 14 years, and if you could extrapolate it out to the top ten he might have been there for up to 20+ years, perhaps from 1907 to close to 1930. Of course there weren’t well-kept rankings back in those days, and World War I put a halt on international swimming.

Last edited 5 months ago by JVW
Obese Legend
5 months ago

I wonder whether there will be changes to the list if we take 2020 out. Many swimmers didn’t have a serious long course swim in that year due to pandemic.

5 months ago

I was always impressed by Alexandr Popov being ranked high year in and year out. I don’t know if he was Top 10 in any event pre-1991 LCM and I don’t know if he made it on to the Top 10 the year after the stabbing incident, but does anyone know how many years he was Top 10 in 50 and or 100 Free?
I know that he went away from Backstroke as he got older (even though he did set an SCM European record in backstroke), so I assume that would not be a stroke where he was an LCM Top 10 swimmer.