How Many Events Can A Swimmer Swim In The Olympics?

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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The simple answer to this question is – an unlimited amount. Swimmers can swim in as many events as they qualify for. But, this answer does not cover all of the nuances of this question.

While, yes, you can swim in an unlimited number of events if you were to even qualify, there are limitations. There are many different reasons why unlimited events are impossible and why someone would not do that.

There are many different categories for swimming. At some point, time constraints and physical restrictions will occur.

Three swimmers racing in a big pool - How Many Events Can A Swimmer Swim In The Olympics?

Is There a Limit for Swimmers?

There is no limit to the number of events a swimmer can swim in. As long as an athlete were to qualify for each of the events, they could enter.

However, there are limitations to this outside of the official Olympic rules, including time constraints and physical capabilities. Most championships, including the Olympics, schedule events to be as short as possible.

This means that gaps between most events are nonexistent and sometimes even occur simultaneously. This gives no time for athletes to prepare or even get to the next event.

Many athletes also only specialize in one type of swimming and perfect it, often not training in other strokes due to the stress it puts on the body. So, doing multiple events throughout the Olympics would, most likely, be too much.

Three swimmers racing in a big pool - How Many Events Can A Swimmer Swim In The Olympics?

How Many Different Categories Are There?

For swimming in the Olympics, there are seven different categories. These categories include:


  • Freestyle
  • Backstroke
  • Breaststroke
  • Butterfly
  • Individual medley
  • Relays
  • Marathon


Within these seven categories are several different races. Each variation within a category usually consists of different distances for the swim. These distances can range from 50 meters to 1,500 meters.

The total number of swimming events as of the 2020 Summer Olympics was 37: 18 events for men and women, with an additional mixed event. This is an increase from the previous 34 events.

However, the categories have been the same for many years now.


Are All Swimming Disciplines Held at Different Times?

No, all the swimming disciples are not held at different times. In fact, it is incredibly rare for one event to be held without another occurring simultaneously. The one most commonly seen competing separately is the 10-kilometer open water.

This is true of both the men’s and women’s events and the mixed. In most of the recent Olympics, different events will happen in two different time slots: morning and evening.

Because of this limited scheduling, more often than not, events are scheduled for the same time.This is one of the main reasons why competing in multiple events can be difficult.


How Many Types of Swimming are There?

Although there are seven different categories that swimming is divided into in the Olympics, there are traditionally only five different types of swimming. The five different types of swimming include:


  • Freestyle
  • Backstroke
  • Breaststroke
  • Butterfly
  • Sidestroke


This is because categories in the Olympics include events such as relays and medleys that encompass one or more of these strokes in a single race.

You can think of the seven categories as specifying how the swimmer competes. Meanwhile, the five different types of swimming specify how the swimmer swims. This sounds like the same thing, but there are nuances between the meanings.


Which Swimming Competition is the Most Popular?

The most popular swimming events are the freestyle events and the butterfly events. The most commonly watched events among fans are the different types of freestyle.

Freestyle is the most common category in a swimming competition, which probably contributes to its popularity.

In freestyle, competitors are subjected to very few restrictions. This means that the athletes do what they do best and go for the win, making it more entertaining for the fans.

Among swimmers, the butterfly is an athlete’s favorite. It is seen as one of the more difficult types of swimming in competitions. It is an advanced style that is often difficult to master, making it more entertaining to watch for seasoned swimmers.


Final Thoughts How Many Events Can A Swimmer Swim In The Olympics

Olympic athletes are the best athletes in the world. They work hard to be the best and are scrutinized by the world. Among different athletic events, swimming is one of the most popular, leading to a rise in questions such as these.

Olympic athletes, specific swimmers, can compete in as many events as they want. But swimmers are human too.

They have time constraints as well as physical limitations. So swimmers, like all people, try to focus on only a couple of things so they do not wear themselves too thin.