The Ultimate Squad: Who Would Represent Team USA on an All-Time Medley Relay?

Michael Phelps [Photo: USA Swimming]

The United States is the undisputed superpower in the sport, and that strength leads to a tough question, and even more difficult answer. Who would represent Team USA on an all-time medley relay?

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The United States is the undisputed superpower in the sport, and that strength leads to a tough question, and even more difficult answer. Who would represent Team USA on an all-time medley relay?


Cayley Guimarães

Yeay! That´s fun! It is hard also.

And just for the fun of it, I will have the prelims and finals teams:

Prelims: Krayzelburg, Hansen, Crocker and Biondi.

Finals: Peirsol, Lundquist, Phelps and Kahanamoku!


Well, I do not know much about US swimming history. I’m sure everyone will disagree. But my choice for freestyler in a relay would be Neil Walker. When USA ended up 3rd behind South Africa and Holland, the only leg that gained over the others was Mr. Walker’s. Very reliable every time.

Darth Vader

Who would actually win…

Back: Piersol
Breast: Hansen
Fly: Phelps
Free: Hall Jr.

Yeah I said it.

John Naber

I don’t know if I am worthy, but I sure am flattered. 🙂

Bill Bell

Peirsol, Lunk, the GOAT and Rowdy.

Prelims: Naber, Hencken, Pablo and Montgomery ( maybe Johnny W.)

How ‘ bout an all-time Top 8 Olympic final in men’s 400-mile, women’s 400-800. Any swimmer/nation all-time

So Cal Swimmer

Backstroke is Naber because he was so far ahead of the world it was ridiculous.
Breastroke is Lundquist because he was unbeatable.
Fly is Spitz. Like Naber he was so far ahead of the world you knew no one was going to catch him.
Free is Biondi. It was magical watching him mow down the other anchor legs leaving them in his wake.

Craig Lord

You are most worthy, Mr. Naber


Some exceptional athletes on this list. If you would add the 4 best individual swimmers in a team I am sure your shortlist is long enough.

As you are composing a team you need relay swimmers, and I would like to throw Lezak in the freestyle basket.
I am not sure if I would select him, but he should be considered at least.


This is interesting. There are so many possibilities for a great relay.

I agree with Paul and for33 though. There are many greats on the list (all of them infact, including you Mr Naber) however i do feel that the great relay swimmers should be included on this list. Lezak, and Walker are superb.

I would pick Aaron, Hansen, Michael and Biondi on this short list.

I may be wrong but I remember having a conversation with Mr Graham Hill a few years back.

The USSR would have had an amazing team
– Krazelburg
– Sludnov
– Klim

(not 100% of these facts, and if anyone could verify them that would be great) Think the only person i am not sure about is klim (born Polish and still part of the eastern block)


It would be great if more real olympic medalist like John Naber place comments here.

@ Craig
would you able to check whether they are real or not?

My relay:
Ian (I am happy to replace him by Michael if he goes under 50.40 in textile :))


So Cal swimmer I’m with you & agree with your comments but would have Phelps over Spitz. Naber you were insanely good! One of the absolute greats, in my opinion the greatest backstroker ever & 1 of the top 5 male swimmers of all time.

Clive Rushton

Peirsol, Hencken, Phelps, Biondi. I seem to be alone in choosing Jon Hencken; maybe I’m biased because he was ‘my’ area.

Yes, Lezak’s Beijing explosion tops everything for a one-off Boom! but Biondi at his best was something to behold.

And yes, John Naber, you are indeed worthy – good grief!! I remember the head-games at the start of the 100 back in Montreal between you and Roland. Three starts were allowed in those days and he made you use every one of them. On number three the pair of you were off before any of the other swimmers had time to register the start signal!

What a great game. Shook hands with Tarzan once – second greatest moment in my sporting career.

Clive Rushton

John, not Jon!!!


Worth noting that current Olympic 100back champion and medley relay WR holder Grevers, not only has the fastest ever textile 100back, but has a textile best significantly faster than Piersol, despite them being near contemporaries. Very consistent and reliable performer too.

…. as was Lezak. Not to mention the split that shook the world (in a freestyle relay of course, but never mind). Difficult, I’m sure, to pick him over all the great individual champs, but maybe earned it all the same.


Fun, fun, fun !

I am torn between Naber, Hencken, Spitz, Weissmuller and Kiefer, Hencken, Spitz, Weismuller but Weissmuller, Hencken, Spitz, Weissmuller if legit is quite good as well.


i have to go with the guys who were responsible for the most advancement of their particular stroke:

Nabor (he would have been under 54 if he was allowed contemporary turns)
Jastremski (look it up)
Phelps (because of underwater revolution)
Weissmuller (so advanced that he held records for 10+ years)


Contemporary turns did not make 1.5 seconds difference






Rouse – Hencken – Spitz – Biondi

It is weird not to have the GOAT in the relay, but I feel 100 fly is not his strongest individual event, despite winning 3 consecutive Olympics gold. He could not beat the textile record of his contemporary, and I know that many people do not believe in luck, but I think he was quite lucky to have beaten Crocker in 2004 and Cavic in 2008. In addition, Spitz was so dominant in his years, holding the WR continuously from 1967 to 1977, bringing down WR by 3 seconds. An amazing longevity considering WRs were relatively easier to break in those years.


I am shocked that nobody has mentioned David Berkoff for the backstroke leg of the relay…If you really study where this stroke has gone over the last 25 years, it was Mr. Berkoff alone who took this to another dimension. Would Phelps even swim underwater if it wasn’t for Berkoff? And I know this has been mentioned before, but imagine Berkoff with just a modern day jammer and the current backstroke turn. Even more, consider Berkoff wore a Jaked, like those in 2009…where would the WR be?
Berkoff + Jaked + new turn + 100 Back = 49 sec ?? (p.s. I feel the same about Pablo and Biondi).
Here is my relay:

Berkoff – Diebel – Phelps – Biondi


Great subject. Naber, Hencken, Phelps, Bindi for me.
Can’t see any other All-Time squad coming close but here are some potential line-ups:
Aus: Thiele, Sprenger, Huegill, Wenden
Ger: Matthes, Kusch, Gross, Woigt
Rus: Polynasky, Volkov, Pankratov, Popov
Jap: Suzuki, Kitajima, Aoki, Miyazaki
Can: Tewksbury, Davis, Robertson, Hayden

France, GB, South Africa, Sweden, Hungary and South Africa also in final contention.


I was introduced to the World of Swimming as a teenager in the 80s. I hope it’s o.k to list my heroes from that era.

I absolutely LOVED David Berkoff’s spectacular submarine backstroke; truly a breathtaking sight.

John Moffet was a legend in LA, finishing a superb 5th after that muscle tear. He would have certainly given Lundquist a run for his money had he been healthy.

Pablo Morales’ comeback and victory in Barcelona after a 3 year break was certainly edge of the seat material.

And finally my favourite swimmer of all-time: The great Matt Biondi. How long, smooth and graceful can a stroke be?


Yes, US men’s all time Medley relay would crush all others it’s not even funny.

For Australia, I would replace Huegill with Klim who actually broke 100fly WRs three times and was world champion.



why not Sludnov for Russia? 1st man under 1 minute

Steve Levy

With swimmers frequently being the most “intelligent” of athletes, someone as part of their graduate thesis or dissertation HAS to create an algorithm to pit swimmers of different eras against each other.

Imagine old-school blocks, quick popups, swivel turns, short kickouts, old Speedos, exergenies versus high-tech blocks, 15M, flip turns, 15M, poly suits, high-tech dryland for:

Naber v Peirsol v Berkoff (@swim4chris is spot on)

Hencken v Jastremski v Lunk v Hansen

Spitz v Crocker v Phelps v Biondi v Pabs

Tarzan v Spitz v Montgomery v Rowdy v Biondi v Lezak v Adrian

Since you didn’t ask, my “wonder how it would have turned out” race has always been the 2Back with Naber v Peirsol. For those weaned on Longhorns, you have no idea how great John was. And both are known as 2 of the most cerebral swimmers ever.


Peirsol, Lundquist, Phelps, and Biondi.


Sludnov is an option for sure. Either way, breaststroke is a comparative weakness for Russia. I’d also agree that Klim could be ahead of Huegill.

Antônio Eustaquio

Peirsol, Hencken, Michael and Biondi. Dream Team.


South Africa
Zandburg, Van d.Burg, Le Clos, Jonty Skinner.
Good enough for a spot in the final!

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