Which Swimmers Have the Most Instagram Followers?

Who are the most popular swimmers on social media?

Instagram is currently the most used social media platform among active swimmers, except for those in China where the app is banned.

In a world where follower counts can have monetary value (affecting things like sponsorship deals), we collected these statistics and found that online popularity is caused by more than just a swimmer’s achievements in the pool. To qualify for our list of most-followed active swimmers, athletes:

  • Must be at least a FINA ‘B’ cut swimmer
  • Must have competed since the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

This includes, for example, Australian pop star Cody Simpson, but not the most decorated Olympian of all time Michael Phelps who has 3.4 million followers or MMA reporter Helen Yee (113K).

Simpson is by far the most popular active swimmer on Instagram with 5 million followers. He has an established career on stage–with four solo studio albums and 21 singles–and in the pool. Most recently, he qualified for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and he plans to train for Paris 2024.

Ranked second is Yusra Mardini who represented the first-ever IOC Refugee Olympic Team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and then competed again at the Tokyo Olympics. Mardini’s inspirational life story–her escape from war-torn Syria and her journey to the 2016 Olympics–is depicted in the Netflix biopic The Swimmers (2022).

Her Instagram follower count stands at 804K, nearly double what it was two years ago before the film was released. Now, she has obtained German citizenship and has said she plans to try to qualify for Paris 2024. 

Seven-time Olympic champion Caeleb Dressel is the most popular American swimmer with 645K followers. He’s lost about 50K followers in the past two years, likely due to two factors: the dying down of the Tokyo Olympic hype train and he has been relatively out of competition since the 2022 World Championships. 

The next most followed swimmer on Instagram is British three-time Olympic gold medalist Adam Peaty (610K) who has built himself an intensely-focused athletic brand on social media. In the past couple of years, he’s shared more light-hearted and vulnerable moments like photos of his young son and his thoughts on mental health. He also participated in the 2021 season of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

American distance star Katie Ledecky now has seven Olympic gold medals as well as 579K Instagram followers. She is the last active swimmer with over 500K followers.

Japan’s Rikako Ikee, a two-time Olympian, is ranked sixth on our list with 475K followers and five-time Olympian Katinka Hosszu is seventh (394K.) The energy and support of the Italian swim fan base make it no surprise that Gregorio Paltrinieri is ninth (345K.)

Rounding out the top ten most-followed swimmers is U.S. Paralympian Anastasia Pagonis. She has a large following of 2.6 million on TikTok and some of that support has trickled over to her Instagram where she has 338K followers.

Pagonis is the second-most popular para swimmer behind her fellow Tokyo Paralympic medalist Jamal Hill (379K) who is ranked eighth. Notably, Jessica Long, the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian in history, has 100K followers while Great Britains’s Alice Tai is currently at 72K and Italy’s Simone Barlaam is at 41.5K.

Just outside of the top ten is Romanian superstar David Popovici at 302K followers. The 18-year-old with the Instagram handle “chlorinedaddy” has had a stellar past year, winning two 2022 World Championship titles and breaking the 100 free world record.

Speaking of young European stars, you might have expected to see French Olympian Leon Marchand among our list of most-followed swimmers. He’s made headlines in the NCAA with ASU this season and he nearly broke Phelps’ 400 IM world record last summer. But, Marchand currently only has 51K followers on Instagram.

Other big names are absent from our list because they have either retired since we last analyzed Instagram followers (Federica Pellegrini, Delfina Pignatiello) or they haven’t competed since the Tokyo Olympics (Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrian, Allison Schmitt.) 

When it comes to social media popularity, medals, world records, and Olympic titles aren’t everything. Otherwise, why would Emma McKeon, the most decorated female swimmer at a single Olympic Games, be ranked 21st with 199K followers? Instead, fan bases seem to accumulate around those who also have inspirational stories, other successful careers, and other popular social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube channels.

Check out our full list of the top 30 most popular swimmers on Instagram below.

The 30 Most-Followed Active Swimmers on Instagram

Place Name Country Followers (as of May 31, 2023) On Instagram Since
1 Cody Simpson AUS 5M 2011
2 Yusra Mardini GER 804K 2016
3 Caeleb Dressel USA 645K 2012
4 Adam Peaty GBR 610K 2013
5 Katie Ledecky USA 579K 2014
6 Rikako Ikee JPN 475K 2016
7 Katinka Hosszu HUN 394K 2012
8 Jamal Hill USA 379K 2016
9 Gregorio Paltrinieri ITA 345K 2013
10 Anastasia Pagonis USA 338K 2019
11 David Popovici ROU 302K 2015
12 Florent Manaudou FRA 293K 2012
13 Bruno Fratus BRA 276K 2014
13 Sarah Sjostrom SWE 276K 2011
14 Welson Sim MAL 259K 2016
15 Chad le Clos RSA 246K 2014
16 Siobhan Haughey HKG 227K 2012
17 Simone Manuel USA 224K 2013
18 Yulia Efimova RUS 219K 2012
19 Ana Marcela Cunha BRA 205K 2012
20 Luana Alonso PRY 201K 2015
21 Emma McKeon AUS 199K 2011
22 Eddie Wang TWN 197K 2015
23 Michael Andrew USA 195K 2013
24 Ryan Murphy USA 191K 2015
25 Stephanie Au HKG 149K 2011
26 Ariarne Titmus AUS 145K 2012
27 Daiya Seto JPN 144K 2012
28 Penny Oleksiak CAN 136K 2012
29 Lilly King USA 135K 2012
30 Cody Miller USA 131K 2012

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3 months ago

Seto has 144k but not on this list..?

3 months ago

Swimswam’s very own Gold Meal Mel has 47.3 K. Not too shabby at all!

3 months ago

As NIL matures I think you’ll see college swimming stars build bigger followings.

Reply to  Wethorn
3 months ago

Agree. I think that in an NIL future, it’s entirely plausible that the biggest brands in swimming will become collegiate swimmers. We’ve already seen that in a lot of sports – gymnastics, volleyball, track & field.

And that is the leverage that I think the schools are going to have to start pushing back on NIL stuff, because the athletes are going to start pulling money from athletics departments (probably already have) and the athletics departments are going to argue that some portion of that value is going to be based on their brands. Which means the relationship between athletics departments and athletes is going to have to change.

Ol' Longhorn
3 months ago

MA saw this and said, “I’m going gangsta.”

3 months ago

This article makes me think back and laugh to the interview Mel did with Dressel where he asked him how many followers he had and he said something like “685k” and Mel was like “we can get that to 1 million by next year” and here we are 2 years later and Dressel has 645 thousand lol

Caesar Dressing
3 months ago

Y’all forgot about Phelps

Scuncan Dott v2
Reply to  Caesar Dressing
3 months ago

Guess someone can’t read – “active swimmers”

3 months ago

What are the Fina B standards? Because based on this article I don’t think Yusra has gone a fina b time correct me if I am wrong though.

Reply to  Rob
3 months ago

I don’t know whether they mean “currently holds a B cut for Fukuoka/Paris” or “has ever hit a B cut in their career and are still competing”. Either way, she never hit a B cut in her career. I assume she competed as a universality type arrangement.

3 months ago

imagine caring about clout😂

About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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