Swimming Siblings: When Two (or More) Members of One Family Achieved International Success

Florent Manaudou of France prepares to compete in the 50m Freestyle Men Semifinal during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 16th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Florent Manaudou -- Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Swimming Siblings: When Two (or More) Members of One Family Achieved International Success

When a child dives into summer league or club swimming for the first time, he or she often has familiar company with a sibling: a few years older, a few years younger or even a twin. When a swimmer reaches elite status, usually their family is sitting in the stands cheering, but it’s not at all unusual for two members of the same family to make it big-time in the sport. In fact, within the last two decades, a pair of siblings has each won individual Olympic gold. There have been many standout sibling pairs in international swimming in decades past. Here are some who have had double family success:

Laure and Florent Manaudou, France

In 2004, Laure Manaudou was 17 when she won Olympic gold for France in the 400 freestyle. She would add a bronze medal in the 100 backstroke and silver in the 800 free that week, and Manaudou would go on to dominate the 400 free for the next three years, breaking an 18-year-old world record held by Janet Evans in the process.

Manaudou’s last dominant performance came at the 2007 World Championships, where she won five medals (including two individual golds), and although she never won another medal at a global-level competition, she remained on the scene for several years thereafter.

In fact, Manaudou’s final Olympics came in 2012, and she was on deck as a 22-year-old Frenchman pulled off a huge upset in the 50 free. Florent Manaudou, younger brother of Laure, was not considered the favorite for gold, but he beat the field by a whopping 2-tenths, leaving defending champion and world-record holder Cesar Cielo in the dust. The younger Manaudou would go on to win world titles in the 50 free and 50 butterfly in 2015, and he would win silver in the 50 free at the 2016 and 2021 Olympics, and he remains one of the best sprinters in the world.

Cate and Bronte Campbell, Australia

Cate Campbell abd Bronte Campbell Swimming World

Bronte, left, and Cate Campbell — Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

These Australian sisters have been at the forefront of women’s sprint freestyle for a decade, with both capturing individual world titles while leading Australia during a dominant stretch in the 400 free relay. Cate Campbell is a four-time Olympian with relay medals at each appearance, including three consecutive golds in the 400 free relay, and she has also won individual bronze medals in the 50 free (2008) and 100 free (2021) 13 years apart. Cate, now 31, also won an individual world title in the 100 free in 2013.

Bronte Campbell, meanwhile, made her first Olympics in 2012 and became a key relay swimmer for Australia the next year, racing on the 400 free relay every year through the Tokyo Olympics. Her finest individual moments came in 2015, when she was the winner of world titles in the 50 free and 100 free in upset fashion.

David and Emma McKeon, Australia

Another set of Aussies, David and Emma McKeon, did not race the same events, but they have both represented Australia at two Olympics—and in fact, their father, Ron, was also an Olympian, while their mother, Susie, swam for Australia at the Commonwealth Games. David was a middle-distance freestyler for Australia at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and he won silver in the 400 free at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Emma has been another member of Australia’s dominant freestyle relays, joining with the Campbell sisters to deliver gold time after time for a decade, but she stepped into the individual limelight in 2021 (ironically, months after David announced his retirement) when she won seven Olympic medals in Tokyo, becoming the first female swimmer ever to win so many medals at one Games. Individually, she won gold medals in the 50 and 100 free.

Shirley, Jack and Debbie Babashoff, USA

Shirley Babashoff has been recognized as one of the top American swimmers in history, but she had a pair of siblings who also achieved international success.

Babashoff won three Olympic gold medals on relays in her career, including the famous 400 free relay at the 1976 Games when she anchored an American team that upset favored East Germany. Babashoff was also a six-time Olympic silver medalist, with five individual honors, and the 1975 world champion in the 200 and 400 free.

At the same 1976 Games as Shirley’s famed relay gold, her older brother, Jack, was the silver medalist behind teammate Jim Montgomery in the 100 free. And a decade later, younger sister, Debbie, achieved international success as a World Championships bronze medalist in the 800 free.

Bruce and Steve Furniss, USA

Bruce Furniss was one of the key figures of the 1976 U.S. men’s Olympic team that won Olympic gold medals in every event but one and earned two medals in all individual events except one. At that meet, Furniss led a 1-2-3 finish with John Naber and Jim Montgomery in the 200 free and joined with those two plus Mike Bruner to set a world record in the 800 free relay.

But also swimming in Montreal was his older brother, Steve Furniss, a team captain at that Olympics after claiming bronze in the 200 IM four years earlier in Munich. The two also raced together at the 1975 World Championships in Cali, Colombia, with both men securing individual medals.

John and Ilsa Konrads, Australia

John and Ilsa Konrads were born in Latvia before moving to Australia, and both swimmers set numerous distance freestyle world records while wearing the green and gold. They swam before the era of the World Championships, but at the 1958 Commonwealth Games, both swimmers won gold in the 440 yard freestyle (with John earning two other gold medals). At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, John won gold in the 1500 free and bronze medals in the 400 free and 800 free relay, while Ilsa captured a relay silver.

Taylor and Kaylee McKeown, Australia

Kaylee Mckeown of Australia shows the gold medal after compete in the 100m Backstroke Women Final during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 14th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Kaylee McKeown — Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Before Kaylee McKeown was the world’s top backstroker, winning gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics in the 100 back, 200 back and 400 medley relay and setting world records in both backstroke distances, her sister, Taylor, was already established internationally. Taylor’s best season was in 2014, when she won Commonwealth Games gold and Pan Pacs silver in the 200 breast, and she was an Olympic medalist as a relay alternate in 2016.

Taylor did not qualify for the 2021 Olympics when Kaylee achieved her greatest success, but the two were reunited internationally in 2022 for the Commonwealth Games. Taylor retired after that meet, while Kaylee is pursuing more hardware this year at Worlds and next year at the Paris Olympics.

Lynn and Rick Colella, USA

Older sister Lynn Colella and younger brother Rick Colella both competed for the United States at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Lynn won silver in the 200 butterfly at that meet while Rick was the fourth-place finisher in the 200 breaststroke. One year later at the inaugural edition of the World championships, both siblings made the podium, with Lynn earning silver in the 200 breast and 200 fly and Rick taking bronze in the 400 IM.

Rick would earn his Olympic medal at the 1976 Games in Montreal, taking bronze in the 200 breaststroke. He has gone on to a successful career in Masters swimming, and he is a five-time honoree as one of Swimming World’s Masters Swimmers of the Year.

Klete and Kalyn Keller, USA

Klete Keller was one of the top 200 and 400 freestylers in the United States for almost a decade, winning Olympic bronze in the 400 free in 2000 and 2004 and taking a key role on the American men’s 800 free relay for that entire period. Most famously, Keller anchored the U.S. men to an upset win over Australia at the 2004 Olympics, and he was part of a world-record-setting quartet in the same relay three years later.

In the second of his three Olympic appearances, Klete’s younger sister, Kalyn, qualified for the American team and finished fourth in the 800 free. Kalyn was also the World Championships silver medalist in the 25-kilometer open water race in 2007.

Malia and Mehdy Metella, France

The second pair of French swimmers on this list, both Metella siblings were sprint freestyle specialists with numerous individual accolades. Older sister, Malia, was the silver medalist in the 50 free at the 2004 Olympics and silver medalist in the 100 free at the World Championships one year later, while Mehdy took bronze in the 100 free at the 2017 World Championships along with three Worlds relay medals and an Olympic relay silver in 2016.

David and Evelyn Verraszto, Hungary

Both of these Hungarian siblings were multi-time Olympians, with Evelyn Verraszto racing in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016, and brother David in 2012, 2016 and 2021. Evelyn never won medals at a global-level competition, but she was a multi-time individual and relay medalist at the European Championships. David was a 400 individual medley specialist who took silver at the World Championships in 2015 and 2017. Most recently, he placed fifth in his signature event in Tokyo.

Joe and Mike Bottom, USA

These two brothers both swam at Santa Clara Swim Club for legendary coach, George Haines, and both went on to swim for the University of Southern California with another legendary coach, Peter Daland.

The more accomplished international career belonged to Joe, who won silver in the 100 fly at the 1976 Olympics plus World Championships silver at the inaugural edition of that meet in 1973. Joe won his only individual world title in the 100 fly in 1978.

Mike was also a U.S. Olympian, but his would-be Games were the boycotted 1980 edition. However, Mike would go on to a highly-accomplished coaching career, spending large chunks of his career at both Cal and Michigan, where he won an NCAA men’s title in 2013. Mike was a member of the U.S. Olympic coaching staff in 2016 and recently retired after 15 seasons with the Wolverines.

Aaron and Hayley Peirsol, USA

Aaron Peirsol — Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Aaron Peirsol’s decade-long career on the international stage established him as one of the best men’s backstrokers in history, and during his long run atop the sport, his younger sister, Hayley, was also winning medals internationally. Aaron debuted on the Olympic level as a 17-year-old in 2000, where he won silver in the 200 back, and he later won three individual Olympic golds in backstroke events plus two medley relay golds.

Aaron won seven individual world titles and held the world records in the 100 and 200 back for at least a decade each. In fact, he remains the standard-bearer in the 200 back at 1:51.92. As for Hayley, she was part of the senior-level U.S. team on two occasions, winning silver in the 1500 free at the 2003 World Championships and bronze in the 800 free two years later.

Tara and Dana Kirk, USA

Tara Kirk was one of the top breaststrokers in the United States for several years, qualifying for three World Championships and earning individual medals in 2005 and 2007. She was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 2004, where she won medley relay silver as a prelims swimmer and was joined by younger sister, Dana, who raced the 200 fly in Athens and just missed making the final.

Other American Families

Both Caroline and Clark Burckle were American Olympians, with Caroline helping the United States win bronze in the women’s 800 free relay in 2008 before Clark raced the 200 breaststroke four years later. Alyssa Anderson was another member of that 800 free relay squad in 2008, swimming in prelims only, but her family would be represented at the next three Olympics by younger sister, Haley, an open water specialist who won silver in the 10K race in 2012.

Maddy Crippen was a U.S. Olympian in the 400 IM in 2000, and her younger siblings, Fran, Claire and Teresa, all swam on the national level. Fran tragically died during an open water race in 2010, two years before he had a chance to aim for an Olympic berth, while Teresa was a finalist in the 200 back at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Three recent U.S. Olympians all had family members race on the national stage, although none ever qualified for the Olympics. Jay Litherland, the 2021 Olympic silver medalist in the 400 IM, raced alongside triplet brothers, Kevin and Mick, for many years, while 2016 Olympian Melanie Margalis was the younger brother of Robert Margalis, always a contender in the 400 IM and a member of the 2005 World Championships team. Catie DeLoof swam the 400 free relay for the U.S. in 2021 after older sisters, Ali and Gabby, had been national-level standouts for several years.

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David Zubero
David Zubero
10 months ago

Duke and Samuel K. …Martin and David Z.

Skitty
Skitty
10 months ago

Louise and Sophie Hansson

JoeSwimmer
JoeSwimmer
10 months ago

Rick and Lynn Colella

JJ Madrigal
JJ Madrigal
10 months ago

Silvia and Claudia Poll, Costa Rica

Caitlin
Caitlin
10 months ago

Brittany and Heather MacLean Canada 🇨🇦

JJ Jeffries
JJ Jeffries
10 months ago

Welsh?

Guimaraes Cayley
Guimaraes Cayley
10 months ago

Berkoff

Virgil kritzmacher
Virgil kritzmacher
10 months ago

Melanie margalis isn’t the younger brother but the younger sister of Robert.

Nancy Rose
Nancy Rose
9 months ago

Joe and Mike Bottom’s baby brother Dave was a Nationally ranked swimmer.

Jim Williams
Jim Williams
9 months ago

David, you missed the Colella’s, Rick and Lynn. Both swam in the Olympics and medaled in an individual event for the USA.

Rick was 3rd in the 200 breast in 1976 Olympics winning the bronze. He was 4th at the 1972 Olympics also in the 200 breast.

Lynn was 2nd in the 200 fly at the 1972 Olympics winning the silver.

Let’s do a little better in your research please.

Andy J
Andy J
9 months ago

Not sure if you’re allowed to nominate yourself, but Helen Jameson won medley relay silver in Moscow Olympics for Great Britain, and Andy Jameson Olympic 100 Fly bronze in Seoul.

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