When you were younger, you were probably interested in a sport or two. Your mom may have dropped you off at Pee-Wee soccer every Saturday morning, you may have spent all of your free time in the batting cages trying to perfect your swing for the weekend baseball game, and you might have even taken gymnastics lessons and hoped to be the next big name in the world of gymnastics. Although many of us find joy in these sports, we often find that life gets in the way, and we suddenly don’t have time for sports games, practice, or even a run-around with your siblings in the backyard. Instead, you’re filling your time with homework, studying, part-time jobs, and getting yourself ready for life as an adult.
However, there are other people who choose to dedicate their whole lives to the sports we’re so happy to give up. Alongside their studies, they’re willing to wake up at 4 am to train in the gym or practice with their coach or team. They live and breathe the sport, and can think of nothing else for their whole day. Of course, they do obtain their high school education, and they may even go on to college – but in the back of their minds, all of they can think of is the end goal. For any amateur sports man or woman, the ultimate goal is to one day compete for their country in the Olympic Games.
Inspired by the warriors and gladiators in Olympia, Greece, the Olympic Games has evolved to become the main event in sport. Taking place over four years, the Summer Olympic Games changes location every time and sees almost every country and nation in the world send in their greatest athletes for the chance to win a gold medal at the end of it. Although many budding athletes dream of one day representing their country, only the select few make it through. With hard work, determination and long hours under their belt, these athletes live and breathe the sport, and this is apparent to the fans.
Although viewers of the Olympic Games have more than 400 events to choose from, there are some sports that are more popular than others. In recent years, swimming has been the center of our attention, with many Olympic swimmers taking over the airwaves and hitting headlines across the world. Amazingly, it’s the female swimmers that have caught our attention more than most. Alongside breaking records and winning gold medals, these female athletes have also won our hearts. Yet, have you ever wondered what the female USA Olympic swimmers are up to now? Wonder no more.
Missy Franklin – Then
Missy Franklin’s dive into the world of professional swimming was merely an accident. As a child, Missy’s mother was allegedly incredibly worried about the water, and encouraged her child to become comfortable in the depths. Because of this, Missy developed an intense love and passion for swimming, and eventually began competing at a national level. In 2012, Franklin made her Olympic debut, and walked away with four gold medals and a bronze medal. She also helped herself and the U.S team break numerous world and American swimming records.
Missy Franklin – Now
Ever since her success at the 2012 Olympics, Missy Franklin has continued to swim professionally, and even competed in the 2016 Olympic Games. However, her fire seemed to have dulled in the years since her 2012 wins, and Franklin won only one gold medal for the 4x200m freestyle relay in the heats, and placed both 13th and 7th for her other races. Missy now spends most of her time inspiring younger athletes to pursue their dreams, as she continues her own swimming career.
Chloe Sutton – Then
From an early age, Chloe Sutton fell in love with swimming, and soon became incredibly gifted at her craft. Instead of going to college, Chloe made the decision to try her hand at a professional career. Her risk paid off, and she debuted her skills at the annual Elite Pro-Am Meet in 2009. Since then, she has made a name for herself as both an open-water swimmer and a pool swimmer. In 2012, this flexibility was put to use, when she was selected to compete for her country in both pool and open water Olympic events.
Chloe Sutton – Now
Although Chloe Sutton has not competed in any Olympic events since 2012, she has continued to swim for fun – and is also using her skills to help others looking to go pro. In fact, Chloe now has an impressively large fan following on social media and YouTube, thanks to her video tutorials. As well as imparting her own experiences on the younger generation, she is also an Olympian clinician and director of marketing for the Fitter & Faster Swim Tour, which is presented by SwimOutlet.com.
Jessica Hardy – Then
Jessica Hardy rose to swimming fame during her high school years, when she was awarded Swimming World’s Female High School Swimmer of the Year in both 2004 and 2005. She later enrolled at the University of California, where she perfected her craft and started to compete in major competitive events. In 2012, Jessica traveled to London to compete in the Olympic Games in both the 4x100m freestyle, the 50m freestyle and the 100m freestyle. Over the course of her career, she has won 28 medals.
Jessica Hardy – Now
Unfortunately, Jessica Hardy did not qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, and posted on social media that her competitive time had come to an end. Despite this, Jessica has never officially retired from swimming – so we may be seeing her again sometime soon. However, her Olympic return may be put on hold for a little while, as Jessica has confirmed that she is expecting a baby girl in Spring 2018. Nevertheless, Jessica still cheers on budding swimmers from the sidelines, and wows her nearly 47,000 Instagram followers with updates on her life.
Kathleen Baker – Then
When she was younger, Kathleen Baker knew she would make a career out of swimming. Her parents allowed her to be homeschooled so she could spend time training, and this intense schedule worked in her favor when she was selected to compete in the 4x100m medley relay and the 100m backstroke in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. In these events, she won a gold medal and a silver medal respectively, and walked away with a huge career ahead of her.
Kathleen Baker – Now
At just 20-years-old, Kathleen Baker still has years to prove that she has the talent to survive in the world of competitive swimming, and she’s doing just that – while also studying for a degree. Baker currently studies at the University of California and swims for her college team, as well as major competitions. In fact, recently the swimmer competed in the 2017 World Championships, where she won an impressive gold, silver and bronze medals. She is expected to compete in even more professional meets in the next few years.
Katie Meili – Then
Katie Meili is another American swimmer who proved her potential in the 2016 Summer Olympics. The 26-year-old started her professional career in 2014, and soon became an Olympic contender at the US Olympic Trials. During her stint at Rio, she competed in the 100m breaststroke and the preliminary 4x100m medley relay – where she absolutely dominated the competition. She won bronze in the breaststroke race, and gold in the medley, and helped her country qualify for the big leagues.
Katie Meili – Now
Since her 2016 win, Katie Meili has continued to impress at professional swimming competitions. In 2017, she competed at the World Aquatics Championships, where she once again showed her prowess for the 100m breaststroke, and beat her personal best. Alongside this, Katie also walked away with a silver medal around her neck. She is expected to continue her professional career, alongside her studies at Georgetown Law School. Katie enrolled at Georgetown in the fall of 2017, and is expected to graduate in 2020.
Natalie Coughlin – Then
Not only has Natalie Coughlin taken part in the Olympics during her impressive professional swimming career, but she has also broken records. When she was still a college student, Natalie became the first woman to ever to swim the 100-meter backstroke in under a meter. At just 20-years-old, this was an incredible feat, and set the course of her shining glory at the 2009 and 2012 Olympic Games. In the 2006 Olympic Games in Beijing, Natalie once again broke records when she became the first American woman to win a whopping six medals.
Natalie Coughlin – Now
After she struggled against younger competitors at the 2012 Olympic Games, Natalie had one last shot at the 2013 World Aquatic Championships, and swam the 50 and 100-meter freestyle. Although she picked up the pace, she has not competed for the national team since. She is still swimming today, but spending more of her time building her own personal brand. With stints on ESPN as a commentator, a book in her name, and an ambassadorial position for a food brand, Coughlin still has a busy schedule.
Dara Torres – Then
Although she may be slightly older than some of the other women on this list, Dara Torres has proved that age does not define her swimming talent. In fact, at 41-years-old, she became the oldest swimmer ever to be awarded a place on the national team. Torres has also broken American records by becoming the first swimmer to compete at five different Olympics over a 24-year career! Her hard work has paid off, as she has won 12 Olympic medals during her run.
Dara Torres – Now
After suffering a knee injury that required intense reconstructive surgery, Dara tried to get herself back into the spirit of things – but couldn’t find the power to get back on form. So, after the 2012 Olympics, Dara Torres retired from the competitive swimming. Since then, Dara has become sports commentator and reporter for major news networks, including ESPN, NBC, and the Fox News Channel. In recent years, she has focused on being a mother, and tried her hand at writing motivational sports and fitness books.
Kaitlin Sandeno – Then
Sandeno made her Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000, and quickly made a name for herself as a swimmer to watch. With her impressive freestyle talent, Kaitlin managed to obtain her first bronze medal. After her initial success, Sandeno trained scrupulously for the 2004 Olympics in Greece, and the hard work paid off. With four medals under her belt, Sandeno not only topped the scoreboards as a singular swimmer, but she was also part of the American team to compete in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, and set a brand new world record.
Kaitlin Sandeno – Now
Although she was on the course to success, Kaitlin allegedly struggled to keep up her game and failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games. Because of this, Kaitlin Sandeno decided to retire from the world of competitive swimming. However, she wasn’t ready to give up a life she had worked so hard to obtain, and knew she wanted to continue working in the swimming world. She has previously worked as a swim coach and race caller, and has since become an ambassador for a sports apparel brand.
Dana Vollmer – Then
Dana Vollmer’s Olympic career started when she was just 12-years-old. Although she did not qualify for the Olympics, she showed her competitors at the Olympic trials that she was a force to be reckoned with. When she finally had her Olympic debut in 2004, Dana won a gold medal with her fellow freestyle relay teammates, and broke a 17-year-long world record in the process. In her subsequent competitive races, Dana has won a whopping 32 medals – 19 of which were gold.
Dana Vollmer – Now
Amazingly, Dana Vollmer is still competing today. In fact, she is getting herself ready for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In April 2017, Dana stole the show at the Women’s 50 Free of the 2017 Arena Pro Swim Series Indy when she took to the pool when she was six months pregnant. Although she wasn’t in it to win it, she wanted to prove that she was still in the running for the Olympic Games, and was not getting out of touch with her training schedule. Let’s see how she gets on in 2020!
Maritza Correia – Then
Maritza Correia is a hugely poignant name in the world of swimming and first qualified for the Olympic national team back in 2004. Although the Puerto Rican born swimmer has proven herself to be a huge talent in the pool, she has also hit the headlines for other reasons. In fact, she changed the face of history in 2004 when she was selected for the Olympic team, as she was the first swimmer of Puerto Rican with African descent to represent American, and the first black swimmer to set a new world record.
Maritza Correia – Now
In the 2004 Olympic Games, Maritza Correia managed to obtain a silver medal in the preliminary round of the 400m free relay, and walked away from Athens with a huge smile on her face. However, since then, Maritza has kept relatively quiet on the swimming front. In 2005, she enrolled at the University of Georgia and studied sociology. Although she has continued to swim in her spare time, she no longer competes professionally, and spends most of her time with her husband, son, and daughter.
Simone Manuel – Then
Unlike many of the women on this list, Simone Manuel is the kind of swimmer who dedicates herself to just one discipline: the sprint freestyle. Manual has been swimming since the age of four, and knew that she wanted to make it into the big leagues. After hours of practice, Simone finally made her Olympic Trials debut in 2012. Unfortunately, she didn’t qualify, but continued her studies at Stanford, and set her sights on the 2016 Olympics in Rio. This time, she qualified and competed in the 50m, 100m, and 200m freestyle events.
Simone Manuel – Now
After winning two gold medals and two silver medals in the 2016 Olympics, becoming the first African-American female to win an individual swimming medal in the Olympic Games, and setting new American and World records, Simone Manuel was on cloud nine. She later used this buzz to push herself towards the 2017 World Championships, where she continued to beat her own records. Simone is still pushing herself to her limits today, and keeping her 140,000 Instagram followers up to date with her training.
Allison Schmitt – Then
After watching her sister take to the water, Allison Schmitt decided to take swimming lessons when she was just 9-years-old. Although she allegedly thought about quitting the sport as she got older, she persevered – and it seems this perseverance has paid off. Schmitt made her debut at the 2008 Olympic Games, won a bronze medal, and focused primarily on freestyle events. This trend continued in the 2012 Olympics, where she won five medals. Throughout her short career, she has already won seventeen medals in major international competitions.
Allison Schmitt – Now
After her success at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, Allison hoped to continue her success in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. During this time, she was named as one of the American swimming captains, alongside the likes of Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian. Nowadays, Allison is still training for her professional career, but is also using her fame to bring to light stigmas in societies. After her battle with depression during her teenage years, Allison is now a mental health advocate and touring the country, telling her story to help others.
Rebecca Soni – Then
Although she always wanted to be a gymnast, Rebecca Soni decided to try her hand at swimming when she was 10-years-old. Almost instantly, she fell in love with the sport and continued to train on a weekly basis. She soon became recognized for her ability and began to compete in major national competitions. Soni made her Olympic debut in 2008 when she competed in the 100m and 200m breaststroke, and the 4x100m medley relay. She later competed in the 2012 Olympics and has won 22 medals over the course of her professional career.
Rebecca Soni – Now
After the 2012 Olympic Games, Rebecca decided to take a year off from the sport to rest and recuperate after a back injury. Although she intended to come back as a swimmer, Rebecca eventually took the trip to the 2013 World Aquatics Championships as a fan and spectator. Nowadays, Rebecca is focusing on a different career path, and inspiring other aspiring athletes to become Olympians. As the co-founder of Rise Athletes, she aims to train and empower those who wish to one-day win medals, thanks to the mentorship of previous Olympians.
Katie Ledecky – Then
Katie Ledecky took the plunge into the pool when she was just six-years-old, and her parents soon realized that she had a talent. As she continued to train, Katie was entered into competitions and swam for local swim clubs. This passion soon found its way to the 2012 United States Olympic Trials, where she dominated the competition and earned herself a place on the national team. In London, Katie wowed the world when she appeared in the 800m freestyle final, and finished a whopping four seconds before her competitors. It was an incredible feat for a 15-year-old.
Katie Ledecky – Now
Four years after her golden debut in London, Katie Ledecky traveled to Rio to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games, and left with more medals than any other female athlete that year. Ledecky currently holds numerous freestyle world records, and is content with continuing her prolific swimming career. She is currently competing with her college, Stanford University, and recently set 12 new NCAA records at the start of 2017. Although she is still training today, Katie is now a celebrity in her own right, and has become a media sensation.
Amanda Beard – Then
Amanda Beard is one of the most prolific American swimmers to ever compete with the Olympic team – and being awarded American Swimmer of the Year twice in her career is a testament to be proud of. Amazingly, Amanda took her first step into the world of the Olympic Games in 1996, when she was just 14, and became the second-youngest American swimmer to ever win an Olympic medal. Since then, she has competed in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games and accumulated seven medals in total: two gold medals, four silver medals, and one bronze medal.
Amanda Beard – Now
The 2012 Olympic Games marked the end of Amanda Beard’s professional career. After failing to qualify for the Olympic team, Amanda re-focused her attention on another career path. Since 2006, Beard has been the center of major media attention, and become somewhat of a model in the celebrity world. She has appeared in FHM and Sports Illustrated, and even posed for Playboy. Although she no longer models, she is still at the forefront of the media as an author, motivational speaker, and businesswoman.