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