female swims under the waterAP Photo/David J. Phillip
AP Photo/David J. Phillip


Team Canada Medal Count

Gold medal icon 9
Silver medal icon 18
Bronze medal icon 28

Sport Overview

Swimming at Paris 2024

Venue: Paris La Défense Arena (pool events), Pont Alexandre III (open water events)

Competition Dates: Pool Events — July 27-August 4 (Days 1-9), Open Water Events — August 8-9 (Days 13-14)

Events: 37 (18 men, 18 women, 1 mixed)

Swimming’s 37 medal events, second only to athletics, include both pool and open water (also called marathon swimming) events. The 35 pool events include both individual and relay events. The two open water events are for individuals only.

There are four swimming styles: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. There are also medley events that incorporate all four strokes, with one stroke per each leg of equal distance. In freestyle events, competitors are permitted to use any stroke, although the crawl is generally used because it is the fastest.

In the pool, there are men’s and women’s 100m and 200m events for each stroke. Freestyle has additional men’s and women’s events over distances of 50m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m. The individual medley events are 200m and 400m for men and women. There are also 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relay events as well as a 4x100m medley relay for each gender. Starting at Tokyo 2020, a mixed 4x100m medley relay featured teams of two men and two women. The men’s and women’s open water events are 10km marathons.

All pool events begin with preliminary heats. In 50m, 100m, and 200m events, the 16 fastest swimmers advance to the semifinals, from which the eight fastest swimmers advance to the final. In events of 400m and longer there are no semifinals, so the eight fastest swimmers (or relay teams) advance directly to the final. Swimmers are seeded according to their qualifying times so that the fastest swimmers are in the centre lanes of the pool.

Open water swimmers are allowed to use any stroke. Races begin with a mass start from a dock or pontoon and swimmers will make multiple laps of a course delineated by buoys. Swimmers can receive hydration from coaches on a feeding station pontoon during the approximately two-hour race. There is much physical contact, particularly at the start and around the turn buoys, as swimmers seek and try to maintain good race position. After swimming in packs to draft off one another, the leaders will thin out as the last lap becomes a sprint to the finish, where they must hit one of six touch pads above the water.

Canada’s Olympic History (Pre-Paris 2024)

Canada has an impressive 55 Olympic medals in swimming, second-most among summer sports.

At both Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, Canada won six medals – all by women – for the country’s third-best total in swimming at one Olympic Games behind the 10 won at the Soviet Bloc-boycotted Los Angeles 1984 and the eight in home water at Montreal 1976. 

Penny Oleksiak standing on the pool deck

With seven career medals, Penny Oleksiak is Canada’s most decorated Olympian. She made history on numerous fronts in her debut at Rio 2016. In winning four medals, she became Canada’s most decorated athlete ever at one summer Games. She also tied the great Victor Davis as Canada’s most successful Olympic swimmer all-time. By winning gold in the 100m freestyle at just 16 years and 59 days, Oleksiak became Canada’s youngest ever Olympic champion.

Also in Rio, Oleksiak anchored both the women’s 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays to bronze and claimed silver in the 100m butterfly. With relay teammate Taylor Ruck, they became the first ever Olympic medallists born in the 21st century. Kylie Masse and Hilary Caldwell added bronze medals in the 100m and 200m backstroke events, respectively.

Maggie MacNeil swimming the 100m butterfly

At Tokyo 2020, Oleksiak stood on three more podiums. She won bronze in the 200m freestyle and was the anchor of the 4x100m freestyle relay that won silver and the women’s 4x100m medley relay that won bronze. Masse and Maggie Mac Neil were also triple medallists. In addition to being part of both medal-winning relays, Mac Neil won Canada’s first gold of the Games in the 100m butterfly. Masse swam to silver in both the 100m and 200m backstroke events before joining the medley relay.

George Hodgson won Canada’s first two medals in swimming, gold in the 400m and 1500m freestyle events at Stockholm 1912. While Canada continued to do well in swimming, another gold medal wouldn’t be won until Los Angeles 1984. Alex Baumann won both the 200m and 400m individual medley events by setting a pair of world records while Victor Davis and Anne Ottenbrite swept the 200m breaststroke events. Canada’s last Olympic swimming champion prior to Oleksiak was Mark Tewksbury, who won the 100m backstroke at Barcelona 1992.

Davis’s record-setting four career medals were won at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988. Tom Ponting, a butterfly specialist and medley relay stalwart, is the only Canadian swimmer to win medals in three different Olympic Games (Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992).

After women began competing in swimming at Stockholm 1912, Elaine Tanner became Canada’s first female swimming medallist at Mexico City 1968, winning silvers in the 100m and 200m backstroke and bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Elaine Tanner winner of two medals in the Women's swimming event at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico. (CP PHOTO/COC)

Robin Corsiglia became Canada’s youngest Olympic medallist (13 years, 341 days) when the women’s 4x100m medley relay won bronze in Montreal 1976. Eight of Canada’s 11 medals at those home Games were won in the pool, including a pair of backstroke bronzes by Nancy Garapick and Cheryl Gibson and Becky Smith sharing the podium in the 400m individual medley.

Canada won three swimming medals at London 2012. Ryan Cochrane followed up his Beijing 2008 1500m freestyle bronze with a silver in the same event, while Brent Hayden won bronze for Canada’s first ever Olympic medal in the 100m freestyle. Richard Weinberger added Canada’s first Olympic open water medal, winning bronze in the 10km marathon.

Canadian Medallists

Event Athlete Finish Games
Freestyle 1500m - MenGeorge HodgsonGold1912 Stockholm
Freestyle 400m - MenGeorge HodgsonGold1912 Stockholm
Breaststroke 200m - MenVictor DavisGold1984 Los Angeles
Breaststroke 200m - WomenAnne OttenbriteGold1984 Los Angeles
Individual Medley 200m - MenAlex BaumannGold1984 Los Angeles
Individual Medley 400m - MenAlex BaumannGold1984 Los Angeles
Backstroke 100m - MenMark TewksburyGold1992 Barcelona
Freestyle 100m - WomenPenny OleksiakGold2016 Rio
Butterfly 100m - Women Margaret Mac Neil Gold2020 Tokyo
Freestyle 1500m - MenGeorge VernotSilver1920 Antwerp
Backstroke 100m - WomenElaine TannerSilver1968 Mexico City
Backstroke 200m - WomenElaine TannerSilver1968 Mexico City
Freestyle 400m - MenRalph HuttonSilver1968 Mexico City
Butterfly 100m - MenBruce RobertsonSilver1972 Munich
Individual Medley 400m - WomenLeslie CliffSilver1972 Munich
Individual Medley 400m - WomenCheryl GibsonSilver1976 Montreal
Medley Relay 4x100m - MenClayton Evans, Gary MacDonald, Graham Smith, Stephen Pickell, Bruce RobertsonSilver1976 Montreal
Breaststroke 100m - MenVictor DavisSilver1984 Los Angeles
Breaststroke 100m - WomenAnne OttenbriteSilver1984 Los Angeles
Medley Relay 4x100m - MenSandy Goss, Mike West, Tom Ponting, Victor DavisSilver1984 Los Angeles
Medley Relay 4x100m - MenSandy Goss, Mark Tewksbury, Tom Ponting, Victor DavisSilver1988 Seoul
Individual Medley 200m - WomenMarianne LimpertSilver1996 Atlanta
Freestyle 1500m - MenRyan CochraneSilver2012 London
Butterfly 100m - Women Penny OleksiakSilver2016 Rio
Freestyle Relay 4x100m - WomenMargaret Mac Neil, Penny Oleksiak, Kayla Sanchez, Rebecca Smith, Taylor RuckSilver2020 Tokyo
Backstroke 100m - Women Kylie MasseSilver2020 Tokyo
Backstroke 200m - Women Kylie MasseSilver2020 Tokyo
Freestyle 400m - MenGeorge VernotBronze1920 Antwerp
Freestyle Relay 4x200m - MenF. Munroe Bourne, Garnet Ault, James Thompson, Walter SpenceBronze1928 Amsterdam
Freestyle Relay 4x100m - WomenAngela Coughlin, Elaine Tanner, Marilyn Corson, Marion LayBronze1968 Mexico City
Backstroke 200m - WomenDonna-Marie GurrBronze1972 Munich
Medley Relay 4x100m - MenBruce Robertson, Erik Fish, Robert Kasting, William Mahony, William KennedyBronze1972 Munich
Backstroke 100m - WomenNancy GarapickBronze1976 Montreal
Backstroke 200m - WomenNancy GarapickBronze1976 Montreal
Freestyle 400m - WomenShannon SmithBronze1976 Montreal
Individual Medley 400m - WomenBecky SmithBronze1976 Montreal
Freestyle Relay 4x100m - WomenAnne Jardin, Barbara Clark, Becky Smith, Gail Amundrud, Debbie ClarkeBronze1976 Montreal
Medley Relay 4x100m - WomenAnne Jardin, Robin Corsiglia, Susan Sloan, Wendy Hogg, Debbie ClarkeBronze1976 Montreal
Backstroke 100m - MenMike WestBronze1984 Los Angeles
Backstroke 200m - MenCameron HenningBronze1984 Los Angeles
Medley Relay 4x100m - WomenAnne Ottenbrite, Michelle MacPherson, Pamela Rai, Reema AbdoBronze1984 Los Angeles
Medley Relay 4x100m - WomenAllison Higson, Andrea Nugent, Jane Kerr, Keltie Duggan, Lori Melien, Patricia NoallBronze1988 Seoul
Medley Relay 4x100m - MenJon Cleveland, Marcel Gery, Mark Tewksbury, Stephen Clarke, Tom PontingBronze1992 Barcelona
Individual Medley 200m - MenCurtis MydenBronze1996 Atlanta
Individual Medley 400m - MenCurtis MydenBronze1996 Atlanta
Individual Medley 400m - MenCurtis MydenBronze2000 Sydney
Freestyle 1500m - MenRyan CochraneBronze2008 Beijing
Freestyle 100m - MenBrent HaydenBronze2012 London
Marathon 10km - MenRichard WeinbergerBronze2012 London
Backstroke 200m - WomenHilary CaldwellBronze2016 Rio
Freestyle Relay 4x200m - WomenPenny Oleksiak, Emily Overholt, Taylor Ruck, Katerine Savard, Brittany MacLean, Kennedy Goss Bronze2016 Rio
Backstroke 100m - WomenKylie MasseBronze2016 Rio
Freestyle Relay 4x100m - Women Penny Oleksiak, Chantal van Landeghem, Taylor Ruck, Sandrine Mainville, Michelle WilliamsBronze2016 Rio
Freestyle 200m - Women Penny OleksiakBronze2020 Tokyo
Medley Relay 4x100m - Women Kylie Masse, Sydney Pickrem, Margaret Mac Neil, Penny Oleksiak, Taylor Ruck, Kayla SanchezBronze2020 Tokyo