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Summer Olympics: Top 10 female Olympic swimmers of all time

While Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Johnny Weissmuller dominated headlines, extremely successful female swimmers were claiming medals in the pool as well. Here's a quick look at some of the greatest female swimmers in Olympic history.

Natalie Coughlin
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

During her Olympic career, American Natalie Coughlin has competed in three Olympic Games and won 12 Olympic medals. She's contested events ranging from the 100-meter freestyle to the 200-meter individual medley, proving that she is adept at all four strokes. Three of Coughlin's Olympic medals are gold, and she won back-to-back gold medals in the 100-meter backstroke in 2004 and 2008.

Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands won eight Olympic medals during her Olympic career, which covered the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. De Bruijn won back-to-back golds in the 50-meter freestyle, and she added gold medals in the 100 freestyle and 100-meter butterfly in 2000.

Hungarian Krisztina Egerszegi s one of only two swimmers to ever win the same event at three consecutive Olympic Games. Egerszegi won the 200-meter backstroke at the 1988, 1992, and 1996 Olympic Games. She also won gold medals in the 100 backstroke and 400-meter individual medley.

American Janet Evans competed in three Olympic Games, though she only won medals in two. In 1988, Evans won the 400-meter freestyle, 800-meter freestyle and 400 individual medley. She repeated as Olympic champion in the 800 freestyle in 1992, and she added a silver in the 400 freestyle the same year.

Australian Dawn Fraser was the first swimmer in history to win the same event at three consecutive Olympic Games. Fraser first won the 100 freestyle in 1956, and she repeated as champion in 1960 and 1964. Fraser also won four Olympic medals as a member of relay teams.

During her first three Olympic appearances, Australian Leisel Jones swam the 100-meter breaststroke three times and earned three different medals -- one of each color. Jones again swam the event in 2012 and failed to medal, but in swimming at the 2012 Olympic Games she became the first Australian to qualify for four Olympic swimming teams. Jones also has medals in the 200-meter breaststroke and several relays to her credit.

In 1968, American Debbie Meyer became the first swimmer to win three Olympic gold medals in a single Olympic Games when she won the 200, 400 and 800-meter freestyle events. Meyers did it all when she was just 16 years old.

East German swimmer Kristin Otto blew away the competition when she won six gold medals at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Four of those medals were in individual events and came in the 50 and 100 freestyles, 100-meter butterfly and 100 backstroke. Otto's accomplishments were later tainted when it was discovered that East Germany had systematically provided performance-enhancing drugs to their swimmers at the time. Otto's medals have never been stripped, though, and she remains one of the most decorated and storied female swimmers of all time.

American Jenny Thompson won 12 Olympic medals during her career, eight of which came on relays. Thompson's only individual medals came in the 100 freestyle, when she won silver in 1992 and bronze in 2000. With 12 total medals, she is tied for the honor of most decorated Olympic female swimmer.

Like Coughlin and Thompson, American Dara Torres has amassed a total of 12 medals during her Olympic career, which spanned 24 years. Torres' medals came in the butterfly, sprint freestyle and relay events, and she famously swam in her most recent Olympic Games at the age of 41. There, she won the silver medal in the 50 freestyle.

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