The oldest Olympic swimmer to win a medal was American Dara Torres, who was 41 years, 4 months and 2 days old when, alongside teammates Natalie Coughlin, Rebecca Soni and Christine Magnuson, she won a silver medal in the women’s 4 x 100-metre medley relay at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Representing the United States at her fifth Olympics, making her the first swimmer to do so, Torres also won silver medals in the 50-metre freestyle and 4 x 100-metre freestyle relay events, thereby her tally of Olympic medals to twelve. Alongside compatriot Jennifer Thompson she is, jointly, the most successful female Olympic swimmer in history.
Born in Beverly Hills, California on April 15, 1967, Torres was, in fact, already the oldest female Olympic swimmer to win a medal. On September 23, 2000, at the age of 33 years, 5 months and 8 days, she swam the anchor leg in the final of the women’s 4 x 100-metre medley relay at the Sydney Olympics; alongside teammates Barbara Bedford, Megan Quann and Jennifer Thompson, she not only won the gold medal, but also set a new world record time of 3:58.30. However, her three medals in Beijing made her the oldest Olympic swimmer, male or female, to win a medal.
The previous record was held by William Robinson, who was born in Airdrie in North Lanarkshire, Scotland on June 23, 1870 and was 38 years and 25 days old when he represented Great Britain at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. Robinson won the silver medal in the inaugural men’s 200-metre breakstroke event at White City Stadium, thereby setting a record that would stand for a century.