The Olympic Games are a fete unlike no other, but it’s not without its oddities. Here we’ll take a look through Olympics past in order to bring you the weird, wonderful and truly astonishing stories of the swimming world at the legendary event.

The Phenomenal Fourteen-Year-Old

In 1988 Krisztina Egerszegi etched her name into the history books by becoming the youngest Olympic gold medal winner ever. Never before had the swimming world seen such a prodigy, with the 200m backstroke competition being electrified by the competitor nicknamed ‘Little Mouse’. Egerszehi went on to dominate her category, winning three consecutive gold medals in each of her games and further ensuring her long standing legacy.

The Troublesome Teddy Bear

A teenager with a teddy doesn’t exactly scream threat, yet 14 year old American swimmer Amanda Beard was exactly that. Becoming only the second youngest American swimmer to reach gold medal level, all while clutching her trusted teddy bear Harold for comfort (not actually in the pool of course).

The Frustrated Frenchwoman

There were quite a few controversial moments from this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, however Aurelie Muller’s open water disqualification particularly stood out. The race was particularly physical throughout, with Frances’ Muller and Italy’s Rachele Bruni battling out for the coveted gold medal. While Bruni edged toward the finish pad, Muller appeared to push her competitor under the water in order to get a hand on the pad. While the Frenchwoman did indeed reach her goal, she was swiftly disqualified for holding Bruni beneath water while reaching for the target. Although a devastating blow to the Olympian, both competitors showed true sportsmanship by embracing after the final decision was revealed.

The Delayed Decision

Back in the 1960s, swimming wasn’t blessed with the touchline technology that we have today, and when America’s Lance Larson and Australia’s John Devitt finished their 100 meter freestyle within half a second of each other the only thing that could determine the winner was the eye of the judges. After delaying the final decision for over a day, the judges eventually decided upon Devitt although the medal remains marred with controversy.

The Damaged Diver

Olympic diver Greg Louganis of team USA performed a badly timed dive that ended with him receiving treatment for severe concussion during the ongoing competition. Although this is reasonably common amongst divers, what’s sets Louganis apart however is that he still went on to win gold with by a huge 25-point margin between him and his closest competitor.

Time for a Tie

At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games something astonishing happened. US swimmers Nancy Hogsheaed and Carie Steinseifer both recorded a time of 55.92 in the women’s 100 meter freestyle, the first ever gold medal Olympic tie. While shocked by the result, both women ultimately remained true professionals and embraced the decision and shared a joint 1st place podium during the medal ceremony.

The Ruin of Ryan

While US swimmer Ryan Lochte proved himself as an incredible athlete during the 2016 Olympic Games, his swimming success was overlooked when he found himself at the centre of a scandal outside of the pool. The controversial swimmer claimed he was robbed of his belongings and held at gunpoint while celebrating at a club in the Brazilian capital. After several interviews and an intense investigation by police, it was revealed that much of Lochte’s story was a lie. While there was a confrontation during the evening of said robbery, video evidence showed Lochte as the instigator having damaged property while intoxicated. Lochte had left Rio by the time police uncovered the truth, however his reputation has been damaged and he was ultimately reprimanded by the US swimming federation.

The Curious Colour

Most swimmers would argue that a blue pool is a healthy pool, unfortunately during the 2016 Rio Olympics the pool was far from its recognisable colour. After a mistake by the cleaning team, algae built up within the pools and one by one the turned an unsightly shade of green. While specialists determined that the pools were safe to use, there’s no doubt that athletes and spectators alike were a little put off by the strange sight. Read more: Everything You Need-to-Know About Algae and Your Swimming Pool

The Magic of Michael

There’s no doubt that Michael Phelps is one of the greatest swimmers in US history, but he cemented his place as an Olympic legend at Rio 2016 by winning his 23rd gold medal. While his career took a downturn after his initial retirement after London 2012, he came back with a bang at his final games. With his new-born son in the stands, Phelps became the Olympian with the highest tally of medals ever recorded - to put it in perspective his closest competitor has only nine. Phelps has confirmed that 2016 was his final bow to the sport and, while the swimming community was sad to see the end of such an illustrious career, there’s no denying that the athlete has redefined what it is to be a competitor.
There’s no doubt that Olympic swimming continues to grow as competitors evolve, and with many up and coming athletes entering the arena in coming years there’ll be many a great moment to record.