All-Time U.S. Women’s Roster Features Deep Talent

Photos: USA Swimming; Aniko Kovacs; Craig Lord

After our men’s line-up, the all-star lineup of the greatest swimmers in American history among women

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After our men’s line-up, the all-star lineup of the greatest swimmers in American history among women



I agree with your picks for Schmitt and Babashoff for the 200 free. But you when you said “Meyer was next in line” I would have had Sippy Woodhead in there ahead of Meyer who I would put about even with Haislett who memorably upset van Almsick in Barcelona.


While Debbie Meyer would deserve to be on the team for her all-around (especially her Olympic triple), I don’t think Ledecky should be shied away from in the 400 just because she is recent. Her 3:59.82 is so much faster than anyone has ever gone in textile that I’d have to put her on for the 400.

Not quite sure why that swim is not more appreciated. IMO the most impressive swim on the women’s side in many years.

Craig Lord

True… but in such as John’s compiling, I also think we should try not to live in our time… in Madison’s time, when she held all world recs 100 to 1500m her times would have looked just as impressive to the wider world of her peers and pundits (albeit a smaller wider world of course)


I see you encourage readers to pick for other countries. I nominate myself to pick for Zimbabwe’s roster, however due to inflationary based budgetary constraints I nominate only one per event, conveniently the selection committee hereby nominates Kirsty Coventry in all female events and Mr President Mugabe for all men’s events. Mugabe’s efforts in the pool are not as well known as Miss Coventry’s however he has shown great perseverance and slipperiness for over 30 years to warrant his selection.

Australian swim fan

It would appear that recent performances have had a greater influence than past performances particularly in reference to the 1960’s and early 1970’s eg Shoran Stouder – first US woman inside the minute over 100 Free (&100 Fly champ in ’64) and Lyn Burke / or Kaye Hall 100 Backstroke or Chris Von Saltza 200/400/800 Free or even as far back as Ethelda Bleibtrey 100 Free – 1920 Olympic Champion – who took nearly 3 seconds off the world record through the heats – final and nearly 10 seconds off the 300 (swum instead of 400 in 1920) world record! And don’t forget Claudia Kolb in the Medleys.
Just some thoughts.
From an Australian perspective see below:
100 free – Fraser and Durack
200 free – Fraser and Gould
400 free – Crapp and Gould
800 free – Whickham and Ford
100 back – Davies and Seehohm
200 back – Livingston and Hocking
100 breast – Jones and Riley
200 breast – Jones and Dennis
100 fly – Thomas and Lenton
200 fly – O’Neill and Thomas
200 im – Gould and Rice
400 im – Neall and Rice
Good to get any other thoughts
Australian Swimfan

Craig Lord


John Lohn

In regards to Sippy Woodhead, I flip-flopped with her and Meyer in that discussion. I admit that the boycott of the 1980 Olympics was more difficult to balance in the debates than it was with the men.

Australian swim fan

It would be good to speculate on an all time Netherland’s women’s team and a all time Japanese men’s team as well! And ignore any such reference to a GDR women’s team.
Australian Swimfan


My GB all-time women’s team (admittedly a bit unimaginative for the fly and medley):
50 free: Francesca Halsall, Alison Sheppard
100 free: Francesca Halsall, June Croft
200 free: Karen Pickering, Joanne Jackson
400 free: Rebecca Adlington, Joanne Jackson
800 free: Rebecca Adlington, Sarah Hardcastle
100 back: Judy Grinham, Gemma Spofforth
200 back: Lizzie Simmonds, Katy Sexton
100 breast: Kate Haywood, Suki Brownsdon
200 breast: Anita Lonsbrough, Lucy Morton
100/200 fly: Ellen Gandy, Jemma Lowe
200/400 IM: Hannah Miley, Sharron Davies

John Lohn

Claudia Kolb is indeed the selection for the 200 medley. The women’s list was more difficult and open to greater debate for sure.


Kat – Surely Sophie Taylor is a better choice for the 100 Breaststroke. I know she is relative newcomer but she is already British record holder with a textile suit PB which is quicker than Haywoods shiny shit best. Apart from that I could maybe put arguments forward for Mel Marshall (200 FS), Gemma Spofforth (200 BK) and Sue Rolph (200 IM) but all in all I think it is a very good list.


My all-time GB male squad

50 Free Foster, Brown
100 Free Burnett, Brown
200 Free Palmer, Renwick
400 Free Palmer, Renwick
1500 Free Davies, Smith
100 Back Tancock, Harris
200 back Goddard, Tait
100 Breast Moorhouse, Goodhew
200 Breast Wilkie, Gillingham (sorry Jamieson)
100 Fly Jameson, Hickman
200 Fly Parry, Rock
200 IM Wilkie, Cochran
400 IM Carry, Poulter


australian swim fan,

leaving out Tracey Wickham off the 400 free must be very difficult.

Her only downfall was the Moscow boycott, but her 4:06.28 World Championships record was the longest ever standing Worlds record, lasting almost 30 years!


I would definitely pick Sippy Woodhead over Allison Schmitt.

Also, it is astounding that the 100 free is USA’s weakest line up, compared to the other events.


I would have definitely given it to Sippy in the 200 free. She held the American record from 1978 until Haislett broke it in 1992 to win gold. She would have been a much bigger name had it not been for the Moscow boycott – in 1980 prior to the Moscow meet itself, she was ranked #1 in the world in the 100-200-400-800 frees.

I also think Linda Jezek should be in the conversation for one of the backstroke spots. She was pretty much untouchable domestically for a very long time and did win the 100 and 200m back at 1978 Worlds, breaking the WR in the latter. Another star many will never know thanks to the boycott. She still has yet to be even inducted into the ISHOF.

Australian swim fan

Response to asswim re leaving Tracey Wickham out of the 400 Free – my tought being that Wickham never proved herself on the biggest stage of all the Olympics – unlike Woodhouse etc she had the chance to go to Moscow and didn’t where Ford did and won. Crapp broke a long standing world record in ’56 and was the first woman under 5min and won on the biggest stage of all. And I think Gould says everything for herself 16 and 3 gold medals – 3 world records plus a silver and a bronze – and this haul could have been even better had Australia had the depth it has in relays now and during the late 50s and 60s.
Australian swimfan

Eric Lahmy

Linda Jezek was world champion in 1978 in front of the East german swimmers and everybody knows chat that means. She was outstanding. A little better than Melissa belote who was beaten by the GDR”wundermadchen” in 1973. I don’t know why such a swimmer is not intronized at ISHOF.
For me Catie Ball is the breastroke US all-time number one. Well! This is funny. Now you have professionnal swimmers with ten or twelve years careers against amateurs whose career was shut before University, at 18…
What did Claudia Kolb at Mexico on 400 medley was incredible.

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