Johnny Weissmuller's Athletic Career

Johnny Weissmuller set 67 swimming world records in distances from 50 yards to 880 yards (the half-mile) - the track equivalent of a 100-yard dash to a two-mile run. He won 52 National Championships in all, and his record of 38 individual US National Championships stood for nearly six decades. He was the first swimmer ever to break the minute mark for the 100-meter freestyle and the first to break 5 minutes for the 440-yard freestyle; both of these were huge milestones. A few of his records in the most swum events in the world lasted for unprecedented and as yet unmatched numbers of years. And all of his performances were accomplished in the 1920’s, without a flip turn, modern lane markers or starting blocks.

His winning streak of more than eight years is legendary; in his entire amateur swimming career he never lost a freestyle competition, at any distance. To this day, few if any athletes have ever achieved this degree of total domination of their sport for such an extended period of time.

“Weissmuller won far fewer gold medals than more recent swimming icons such as Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps. But this was due to the limited number of events available to him. Given the margin of superiority he had over his rivals, some experts still regard him as the greatest swimmer of all time.” (from the official International Olympic Committee website)

He also won national championships in the now-defunct pentathlon event (5 swimming and diving events), won and set records in miles-long open water marathon races and even won an Olympic Bronze medal and a couple of National Championships in water polo. And on occasion he would compete in and break records for the backstroke events he didn’t even train for - “just for fun”, he would say.

A well-loved and humble celebrity, Weissmuller did more to promote and expand his sport’s reach than any other swimmer in the twentieth century. He personally taught thousands of people how to swim.

Johnny was also an extremely skilled diver, capable of executing classic high dives like the swan dive, jackknife, one and a half somersaults and the full gainer. Remarkably, the highest dive he ever did was at age 45 for a Jungle Jim film – 76 feet off a cliff into a river.

Weissmuller was a very good golfer who competed for nearly thirty years in every major Pro-Am Tournament on the planet. He was inducted into the Bodybuilders Hall of Fame, and he was also a great surfer and sailor!


Sports Records & Awards

Established 67 world records

Won 52 national championships

Earned 5 Olympic Gold medals in swimming and a Bronze in water polo

Won the Chicago Marathon Race twice

Awarded the Helms Hall of Fame three times

Won National Championships in the Pentathlon in 1922 and 1923

Was a member of the National Championship water polo teams in 1924 and 1927

Greatest Swimmer of the First Half Century – 1900-1950 (chosen by the Associated Press)

Founding Chairman of and first inductee to the International Swimming Hall of Fame

Inducted into the Cambria County War Memorial Sports Hall of Fame in 1967

Received the Sportsmen's World Award for Swimming in 1968

Received the American Patriot Award in 1971

Awarded special sterling silver Olympic medals at the Olympic Games in Munich 1972

Declared Sportsworld King in 1972

Received Dewars Merit Award for "Sports Immortal" in 1972

Declared an undefeated "King of Swimming" by the International Palace of Sports in 1974

Inducted into the American Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983

One of the founding 20 inductees into the American Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983


Swimming Records – Highlights

Olympic Games
Gold medals won - New Olympic Records

1924 (Paris, France)

100-Meters Freestyle champion... :59 seconds

400-Meters Freestyle champion... 5:04.2 minutes

800-Meters U.S.A. Relay Team champion... 9:53.4 minutes

1928 Amsterdam, Holland)

100-Meters Freestyle champion... :58.6 seconds

800-Meters U.S.A. Relay team champion... 9:36.2 minutes


National Championships

Outdoor

EVENT

YEAR

TIME

50-yards


50-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-meters


100-meters


100-meters


220-yards


220-yards


440-yards


440-yards


440-yards


440-yards


440-yards


440-yards

1921


1922


1922


1923


1925


1926


1927


1928


1921


1922


1922


1923


1925


1926


1927


1928

23.2


23.0


52.8


54.6


52.0


59.6


58.0


57.8


2:28.0


2:22.4


5:16.4


5:37.4


5:22.5


5:21.8


4:52.0


4:58.6

Indoor

EVENT

YEAR

TIME

50-yards


50-yards


50-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


Pentathlon


Pentathlon


220-yards


220-yards


220-yards


220-yards


220-yards


500-yards


500-yards


500-yards


500-yards


500-yards


150-yards (Backstroke)

1923


1924


1925


1922


1923


1924


1925


1927


1928


1922


1923


1922


1923


1924


1927


1928


1922


1923


1924


1927


1928


1923

23.6


24.0


23.2


54.0


54.8


53.8


52.2


51.4


50.8






(Tied)


2:17.4


2:22.0


2:14.8


2:10.8


2:10.4


5:46.8


5:43.6


5:50.4


5:28.4


5:35.0


1:42.0


Outdoor

RELAY

YEAR

TIME

880-yards


880-yards


880-yards


880-yards


880-yards


880-yards


880-yards

1923


1924


1925


1926


1927


1927


1928

10:05.4


(No Time)


11:12.0


9:43.0


10:22.2


9:35.0


9:32.6

Indoor

RELAY

YEAR

TIME

300-yards Medley


300-yards Medley


200-yards


200-yards


400-yards


400-yards


400-yards


400-yards


400-yards

1927


1928


1922


1924


1922


1923


1924


1925


1928

3:06.2


3:05.6


1:39.2


1:38.8


3:43.6


3:42.0


3:41.4


3:45.0


3:32.6


World Records — 20-Yard Pool

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

100-yards


100-yards


150-yards


200-meters


220-yards


220-yards


400-meters


400-meters


440-yards


440-yards


500-yards


500-yards


150-yards (Backstroke)

Chicago, Illinois


Minneapolis, Minnesota


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Honolulu, Hawaii


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois

Nov. 21, 1921


March 19, 1923


April 6, 1922


Jan. 4, 1923


May 26, 1922


Jan. 4, 1923


April 6, 1922


Feb. 1, 1923


April 6, 1922


Feb. 1, 1923


April 6, 1922


Feb. 1, 1923


April 4, 1923

52.6


51.8


1:25.4


2:14.0


2:15.6


2:14.0


5:05.2


4:51.4


5:05.2


4:51.4


5:46.8


5:42.0


1:42.0


World Records — 25-Yard Pool

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

50-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-meters


100-meters


100-meters


150-yards


150-yards


200-meters


200-meters


220-yards


220-yards


220-yards


300-yards


300-yards


300-meters


500-yards


500-meters


100-yards (Backstroke)


100-meters (Backstroke)


150-yards (Backstroke)

Columbus, Ohio


Honolulu, Hawaii


Miami Beach, Florida


Ann Arbor, Michigan


Brighton Beach, New York


Culver (Ind.) Mil. Acad.


Miami Beach, Flroida


Brighton Beach, New York


Pittsburgh, PA


Honolulu, Hawaii


Ann Arbor, Michigan


Honolulu, Hawaii


McKeesport, PA


Ann Arbor, Michigan


Philadelphia, PA


Chicago, Illinois


Philadelphia, PA


Great Lakes, Illinois


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Aug. 1, 1922


May 27, 1922


Feb. 17, 1924


April 5, 1927


Sept. 27, 1921


May 2, 1922


Feb. 24, 1924


Sept. 27, 1921


Dec. 7, 1925


May 26, 1922


June 5, 1927


May 26, 1922


Dec. 9, 1925


June 5, 1927


March 25, 1922


June 17, 1927


March 25, 1922


June 27, 1923


Sept. 30, 1922


Nove. 4, 1922


Nov. 4, 1922


April 20, 1922

22.8


52.6


52.4


51.0


1:00.4


59.4


57.4


1:27.4


1:25.4


2:15.6


2:08.0


2:15.6


2:15.2


2:09.0


3:16.6


3:07.8


3:35.2


5:50.4


6:24.2


1:05.4


1:12.6


1:45.4



World Records — 100-Yard or 100-Meter Pool

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

100-yards


100-yards


100-meters


100-meters


440-yards


440-yards


400-meters


880-yards

Honolulu, Hawaii


Seattle, Washington


Alameda, California


Amsterdam, Holland


New Haven, Connecticut


Honolulu, Hawaii


New Haven, Connecticut


Honolulu, Hawaii

June 23, 1923


Aug. 1, 1925


July 9, 1922


1928


March 6, 1923


Aug. 25, 1927


March 6, 1923


Aug. 27, 1927

52.8


52.0


58.6


58.6


4:57.0


4:52.0


4:57.0


10:22.2


World Records — Open Water

WORLD RECORDS — OPEN WATER

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

100-yards


150-yards


200-meters


220-yards


300-meters


400-meters


440-yards


500-yards

Honolulu, Hawaii


Atlanta, Georgia


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii

June 23, 1922


Sept. 9, 1922


June 24, 1922


June 24, 1922


June 22, 1922


June 22, 1922


June 22, 1922


June 22, 1922

52.8


1:27.8


2:17.2


2:18.4


3:45.0


5:06.6


5:07.8


5:47.6


American Records — 20-Yard Course

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

50-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


120-yards


150-yards


150-yards


200-yards


220-yards


220-yards


220-yards


220-yards


220-yards


300-yards


440-yards


440-yards


400-meters


500-yards


500-yards


500-yards


100-yards (Backstroke)


100-yards (Backstroke)


150-yards (Backstroke)


Relay (400 yards)


Relay (400 yards)


Relay (400 yards)


Relay (500 yards)


Relay (300 yds. - Medley)


Relay (300 yds. - Medley)

Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Minneapolis, Minnesota


Omaha, Nebraska


Chicago, Illinois


Cleveland, Ohio


Chicago, Illinois


New York City, New York


Chicago, Illinois


Homestead, PA


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois

Jan. 8, 1925


Nov. 21, 1921


March 13, 1923


May 10, 1924


Dec. 3, 1925


Jan. 29, 1926


Jan. 6, 1927


Sept. 27, 1921


April 6, 1922


Dec. 10, 1925


Feb. 10, 1926


Feb. 2, 1922


Aug. 13, 1922


Jan. 4, 1923


Jan. 7, 1926


Feb. 3, 1927


Jan. 3, 1924


April 6, 1922


Feb. 1, 1923


April 6, 1922


April 6, 1922


Feb. 1, 1923


April 8, 1927


Dec. 7, 1922


Feb. 4, 1926


April 4, 1923


March 2, 1922


March 1, 1923


April 3, 1928


April 3, 1928


April 5, 1927


April 4, 1928

22.8


52.6


51.8


51.4


51.2


51.2


49.8


1:08.4


1:25.4


1:25.0


1:58.4


2:18.4


2:18.4


2:14.0


2:10.4


2:08.6


3:12.4


5:05.2


4:51.4


5:05.2


5:46.8


5:42.0


5:28.4


1:05.6


1:01.8


1:42.0


3:42.4


3:39.6


3:32.6


4:28.2


3:06.2


3:05.6


American Records — Short Course

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-meters


100-meters


100-meters


100-meters


150-yards


150-yards


150-yards


200-yards


220-yards


220-yards


220-yards


200-meters


200-meters


200-meters


300-yards


300-yards


300-yards


300-meters


300-meters


440-yards


440-yards


400-meters


400-meters


500-yards


500-yards


500-meters


500-meters


100-yards (Backstroke)


100-yards (Backstroke)


100-meters (Backstroke)


150-yards (Backstroke)


Relay (200 yards)


Relay (200 yards)


Relay (400 yards)


Relay (500 yards)


Relay (250 yards)


Honolulu, Hawaii


Miami Beach, Florida


San Francisco, California


Ann Arbor, Michigan


Brighton beach, New York


Culver (Ind.) Mil. Acad.


Chicago, Illinois


Miami Beach, Florida


Brighton Beach, New York


St. Louis, Missouri


Pittsburgh, PA


Ann Arbor, Michigan


Honolulu, Hawaii


McKeesport, PA


Ann Arbor, Michigan


Culver (Ind.) Mil. Acad.


Honolulu, Hawaii


Ann Arbor, Michigan


Philadelphia, PA


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Chicago, Illinois


Philadelphia, PA


Chicago, Illinois


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


New Haven, Connecticut


Maui, Hawaii


New Haven, Connecticut


Maui, Hawaii


Great Lakes, Illinois


Sacramento, California


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Detroit, Michigan


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Chicago, Illinois


Brooklyn, New York


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


New York City, New York


New York City, New York


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

May 27, 1922


Feb. 17, 1924


Aug. 10, 1925


June 5, 1927


Sept. 27, 1921


May 2, 1922


Nov. 7, 1923


Feb. 24, 1924


Sept. 27, 1921


July 2, 1925


Dec. 7, 1925


May 4, 1927


May 26, 1922


Dec. 9, 1925


May 4, 1927


April 15, 1922


May 26, 1922


May 4, 1927


March 25, 1922


Nov. 11, 1925


June 17, 1927


May 25, 1922


Oct. 24, 1927


Sept. 30, 1922


March 6, 1922


June 1, 1922


March 6, 1922


June 1, 1922


June 27, 1923


July 10, 1922


Sept. 30, 1922


Nov. 4, 1922


Jan. 30, 1926


Nov. 4, 1922


April 20, 1922


Jan. 18, 1924


April 1, 1922


March 17, 1923


March 29, 1922


March 29, 1922


March 17, 1923

52.6


52.4


52.0


51.0


1:00.4


59.4


59.2


57.4


1:27.4


1:26.3


1:25.4


1:56.8


2:15.6


2:15.2


2:09.0


2:16.0


2:15.6


2:08.0


3:16.6


3:14.0


3:07.8


3:35.2


3:31.0


5:08.0


4:57.0


5:08.2


4:57.0


5:52.0


5:50.4


6:42.6


6:24.2


1:05.4


1:03.4


1:12.6


1:45.4


1:44.8


1:39.2


1:37.2


3:43.6


4:41.8


2:02.6


American Records — Long Course

>

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

50-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-yards


100-meters


100-meters


100-meters


100-meters


150-yards


200-yards


220-yards


220-yards


200-meters


200-meters


300-meters


400-meters


400-meters


440-yards


440-yards


800-meters


880-yards


Relay (880 yards)

Columbus, Ohio


New York City, New York


Indianapolis, Indiana


Seattle, Washington


Alameda, California


Amsterdam, Holland


Honolulu, Hawaii


San Francisco, California


Honolulu, Hawaii


Detroit, Michigan


Geauga Lake, Ohio


Honolulu, Hawaii


Coral Gables, Florida


Honolulu, Hawaii


Coral Gables, Florida


New Haven, Connecticut


Honolulu, Hawaii


New Haven, Connecticut


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii

Aug. 1, 1922


Sept. 24, 1921


Aug. 10, 1922


Aug. 1, 1925


July 9, 1922


1928


Aug. 24, 1927


June 7, 1928


Nov. 14, 1928


Aug. 4, 1927


July 11, 1926


Aug. 26, 1927


Jan. 3,1926


Aug. 26, 1927


Nov. 29, 1925


March 6, 1923


Aug. 25, 1927


March 6, 1923


Aug. 25, 1927


Aug. 27, 1927


Aug. 27, 1927


Aug. 26, 1927

22.8


53.2


52.8


52.0


58.6


58.6


58.0


57.8


1:26.0


2:01.2


2:17.0


2:13.6


2:16.2


2:13.6


3:42.2


4:57.0


4:52.0


4:57.0


4:52.0


10:22.2


10:22.2


9:20.2


American Records — Open Water

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

100-yards


150-yards


200-yards


200-meters


220-yards


300-yards


300-meters


400-meters


440-yards


500-yards


500-meters


Relay (400 yards)

Honolulu, Hawaii


Atlanta, Georgia


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Honolulu, Hawaii


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois

June 23, 1922


Sept. 9, 1922


June 24, 1922


June 24, 1922


June 24, 1922


June 22, 1922


June 22, 1922


June 22, 1922


June 22, 1922


June 22, 1922


July 4, 1923


Aug. 27, 1921

52:8


1::27.8


2:03.8


2:17.2


2:18.4


3:23.6


3:45.0


5:06.6


5:07.8


5:47.6


6::55.0


3::51.0


Noteworthy Performances — 20-Yard Pool

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

40-yards


50-yards


60-yards


80-yards


100-meters


100-meters


100-meters


110-yards


110-yards


110-yards


120-yards


200-yards


200-yards


300-meters


400-yards


Relay (160 yards)


Relay (160 yards)


Relay (160 yards)

Buffalo, New York


Chicago, Illinois


New York City, New York


South Bend, Indiana


Buffalo, New York


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Buffalo, New York


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, Illinois

Dec. 1, 1922


Jan. 8, 1925


March 31, 1922


Oct. 26, 1923


Dec. 1, 1922


Dec. 6, 1923


March 1, 1928


Dec. 1, 1922


Dec. 14, 1923


March 1, 1928


March 1, 1928


April 5, 1923


Feb. 10, 1926


March 6, 1924


Feb. 7, 1924


Feb. 2, 1922


Feb. 7, 1922


Feb. 2, 1928

18.0


22.8


29.6


40.8


1:00.8


58.6


57.0


1:00.8


59.2


57.0


1:02.6


1:59.2


1:58.4


3:34.0


4:30.6


1:16.0


1:14.8


1:14.2



Noteworthy Performances — Short Course

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

110-yards


120-yards


200-yards


200-yards


200-yards


220-yards


250-yards


250-yards


400-yards


100-meters (Backstroke)


Relay (300 yards)


Relay (600 yards)

Kansas City, Missouri


Kansas City, Missouri


Philadelphia, PA


San Francisco, California


Ann Arbor, Michigan


Honolulu, Hawaii


Philadelphia, PA


St. Lousi, Missouri


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Toledo, Ohio


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


New York City, New York

July 15, 1922


July 15, 1922


March 25, 192225


Aug. 10, 1927


May 4, 1922


May 26, 1922


March 25, 1922


April 30, 1924


Sept. 30, 1922


Jan. 28, 1926


March 17, 1923


March 29, 1922

58.4


1:06.4


2:05.2


2:00.2


1:56.8


2:15.6


2:41.0


2:37.0


4:40.0


1:10.4


2:28.4


5:30.6


Noteworthy Performances — Long Course

EVENT

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

50-yards


80-yards


200-yards


75-yards (Backstroke)


Relay (800 meters)


Relay (880 yards)


Relay (880 yards)

Columbus, Ohio


Indianapolis, Indiana


Detroit, Michigan


Columbus, Ohio


Newark, New Jersey


Newark, New Jersey


Philadelphia, PA

Aug.1, 1922


Aug. 10, 1922


Aug. 4, 1927


Aug. 1, 1922


Sept. 9, 1923 (Open Water)


Sept. 9, 1923 (Open Water)


July 31, 1926 (Pool)

22.8


40.6


2:01.2


46.6


10:05.4


11:05.4


9:48.6

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