Swimming in Maryland gained worldwide attention in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, when Marylander Michael Phelps won his first six gold medals as well as two bronze, in butterfly, freestyle relay, and individual medley. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, he won eight gold medals. In London, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Phelps won his 18th Olympic gold medal, which also was his 22nd career Olympic medal, and became the most decorated athlete in the history of the modern Olympic Games. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Phelps won his 23rd Olympic gold medal, bringing his total Olympic medal count to 28.
Swimming pool, Reisterstown, Maryland, September 2009. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Olympic swimming athletes from Maryland also include Brad Schumacher (born in Bowie), Beth Botsford and Allison Schmitt of Baltimore, and Katie Ledecky of Bethesda. Schumacher and Botsford each won two gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta games. Schmitt won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as three gold medals, one silver, and one bronze at the 2012 London competitions. Ledecky won a gold medal at the 2012 London competitions. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Ledecky won four gold medals and a silver, and set two new world records in 400-meter freestyle and 800-meter freestyle. During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Ledecky won two golds and two silvers. Jessica Long of Baltimore won her fourth straight gold medal in the SM8 200-meter individual medley at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, her 25th Paralympic medal.
Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center, 130 Auto Drive, Prince Frederick (Calvert County), Maryland, July 2014. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
During the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, Katie Zaferes of Hampstead (Carroll County), Maryland, won the Bronze Medal in the Women's Triathlon, which consists of cycling, running, and swimming. Zaferes won the International Triathlon Union's World Triathlon Championship in 2019.
Throughout Maryland, swim clubs provide opportunities for competitive swimming to Marylanders of all ages. Competitive swimming is organized through Maryland Swimming.
Daniel C. Olson Pool, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, Maryland, October 2015. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Besides swimming pools, Maryland offers many opportunities for recreational swimming. Fifteen State Parks have swimming areas.
Swimming is affected by water quality, as well as the condition of the beach. The Department of the Environment administers Maryland's Healthy Beaches Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors beach health through its BEACON (beach advisory & closing online notification) database.
Held annually since 1982, the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim is a 4.4 mile race from Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County to Kent Island on the Eastern Shore. Limited to 600 swimmers, the Swim is held on the second Sunday in June, and next will be held on June 11, 2022.
© Copyright August 30, 2021 Maryland State Archives