Paris Olympics: What To Know And Who To Watch During The Swimming Competition

A roadmap to follow for the swimming competition during the Paris Olympics:

Athletes To Watch

—Katie Ledecky, United States: Already one of the greatest swimmers ever, the 27-year-old American heads to Paris looking to add to her six individual Olympic gold medals. The 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle are considered Ledecky's best shots at victory. The two-time Associated Press female athlete of the year will be competing in her fourth Summer Games.

—Léon Marchand, France: Swimming at home after leading Arizona State to an NCAA title under longtime Michael Phelps coach Bob Bowman, Marchand could be one of the biggest stars of the Paris Games. The Frenchman shattered Phelps’ 15-year-old world record in the 400 individual medley and also took gold in the 200 IM and 200 butterfly at the 2023 world championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

—Kaylee McKeown, Australia: She captured three gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics and appears poised for another big performance after sweeping the women’s backstroke events at the 2023 worlds. McKeown is part of a powerhouse Aussie women's team that also includes Ariarne Titmus, Emma McKeon and Mollie O’Callaghan. McKeon is competing in her final Olympics after hoarding seven medals — the most ever by a female swimmer — in Tokyo.

—Caeleb Dressel, United States: The 27-year-old American was a standout at the Tokyo Olympics, capturing five gold medals, but burnout led him to walk away from the sport in the middle of the 2022 world championships. After an extended break, he failed to qualify for the 2023 worlds. Dressel is the sport's most intriguing figure heading into the Paris Olympics.

—Summer McIntosh, Canada: The 17-year-old McIntosh is expected to be a gold-medal contender in several events, including the 800 free that has been ruled for more than decade by Ledecky. The teenager snapped Ledecky’s 13-year undefeated run in that event at a sectional meet in Florida, posting a time that was faster than Ledecky’s gold medal-winning performance in Tokyo.

Storylines To Follow

—Chinese doping scandal. At the Tokyo Olympics, 23 Chinese swimmers were cleared to compete despite testing positive for a banned heart medication. The world anti-doping regulator agreed with Chinese authorities, ruling their samples had been contaminated, but the revelation is sure to cast a shadow over stars such as Qin Haiyang and Zhang Yufei when they compete in Paris.

—Ledecky vs. Titmus vs. McIntosh. Three of the biggest stars will collide in the 400 freestyle. Ledecky was the 2016 Olympic champion and longtime world-record holder in the event, but she's been surpassed in recent years by Titmus and McIntosh. Nicknamed "The Terminator,” Titmus handed Ledecky her first-ever individual Olympic defeat in the 400 free at Tokyo. McIntosh grabbed the world record in that event in early 2023, only to have Titmus take it back at the world championships that summer in Fukuoka.

—Comeback Kids. Dressel isn't the only swimmer who needed time off after Tokyo. American Simone Manuel, the first Black woman to win an individual swimming gold medal, was diagnosed with overtraining syndrome. Britain breaststroke star Adam Peaty left the deck to deal with mental health issues. Kristóf Milák of Hungary skipped the 2023 world championships and faces more questions about his commitment to the grueling sport.

Key Dates

The swimming competition, which is being held in a temporary pool at the Paris La Défense stadium, begins the morning of July 27 and has medal races every night through Aug. 4.

Reigning Champions

Men's Events:

—50-meter freestyle: Caeleb Dressel, United States.

—100 freestyle: Caeleb Dressel, United States.

—200 freestyle: Tom Dean, Britain.

—400 freestyle: Ahmed Hafnaoui, Tunisia.

—800 freestyle: Bobby Finke, United States.

—1,500 freestyle: Bobby Finke, United States.

—100 backstroke: Evgeny Rylov, Russian Olympic Committee.

—200 backstroke: Evgeny Rylov, Russian Olympic Committee.

—100 breaststroke: Adam Peaty, Britain.

—200 breaststroke: Zac Stubblety-Cook, Australia.

—100 butterfly: Caeleb Dressel, United States.

—200 butterfly: Kristóf Milák, Hungary.

—200 individual medley: Wang Shun, China.

—400 individual medley: Chase Kalisz, United States.

—4x100 freestyle relay: United States.

—4x200 freestyle relay: Britain.

—4x100 medley relay: United States.

Women's Events:

—50 freestyle: Emma McKeon, Australia.

—100 freestyle: Emma McKeon, Australia.

—200 freestyle: Ariarne Titmus, Australia.

—400 freestyle: Ariarne Titmus, Australia.

—800 freestyle: Katie Ledecky, United States.

—1,500 freestyle: Katie Ledecky, United States

—100 backstroke: Kaylee McKeown, Australia.

—200 backstroke: Kaylee McKeown, Australia.

—100 breaststroke: Lydia Jacoby, United States.

—200 breaststroke: Tatjana Schoenmaker, South Africa.

—100 butterfly: Maggie Mac Neil, Canada.

—200 butterfly: Zhang Yufei, China.

—200 individual medley: Yui Ohashi, Japan.

—400 individual medley: Yui Ohashi, Japan.

—4x100 freestyle relay: Australia.

—4x200 freestyle relay: China.

—4x100 medley relay: Australia.

Mixed Event:

—4x100 medley relay: Britain.


AP Summer Olympics: