Michael Klim (AUS)
Honor Swimmer (2022)
FOR THE RECORD: 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: BRONZE (4X100M MEDLEY), 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES: GOLD (4X100M FREESTYLE, 4X200M FREESTYLE), SILVER (100M BUTTERFLY, 4X100M MEDLEY RELAY); 2004 OLYMPIC GAMES: SILVER (4X200M FREESTYLE); 1998 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (LC): GOLD (200M FREESTYLE, 100M BUTTERFLY, 4×200M FREESTYLE, 4×100M MEDLEY), SILVER (100M FREESTYLE, 4×100M FREESTYLE), BRONZE (50M FREESTYLE); 2001 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (LC): GOLD 4×100M FREESTYLE, 4×200M FREESTYLE); 2005 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (LC): BRONZE (4×100M FREESTYLE); 2007 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (LC): GOLD (4×100M MEDLEY); 1995 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (SC): GOLD (4×200M FREESTYLE)’ SILVER (4×100M FREESTYLE, 4×100M MEDLEY), BRONZE (200M FREESTYLE); 1997 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (SC): GOLD (4×200 M FREESTYLE,4×100M MEDLEY), BRONZE (100M FREESTYLE, 100M BUTTERFLY, 4×100M FREESTYLE); 1999 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (SC): GOLD (4×100M FREESTYLE, 4×100M MEDLEY), SILVER (100M FREESTYLE, 200M FREESTYLE, 100M BUTTERFLY)
He was born in Poland, learned to swim in India, lived in Canada and Germany as a youth and ended up swimming for Australia, where his family settled and finally considered home. As much as he moved during his youth, there was always a constant in his life – swimming. No matter where he was, no matter what country, Michael Klim could join the local swim team and immediately fit in.
When the Klim family settled in Melbourne, it wasn’t long before Michael was noticed by the Australia Institute of Sport (AIS). At age 15 he was asked to move and train in Canberra by Coach Gennadi Touretski, coach of ISHOF Honoree and sprinting great, Alexander Popov.
Klim first represented Australia in 1994 at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia. He began to shine in 1995 when he was named Australian Swimming’s Rookie of the Year.
Klim specialized in the freestyle and butterfly in 1996 and became one of the most notable athletes in Australian history. At his first Olympic appearance in Atlanta, in 1996 he was ranked first in the world in the 200m freestyle, but did not make the finals. However, he and his Aussie teammates won the bronze medal in the 4 x 100m medley relay. This was the beginning of Klim’s all-time great career on relay teams.
On December 23rd, 1996, Klim set the first of his 21 world records, in the 4 x100m medley relay at the Australian Short Course Championships. He continued his climb in January of 1998, at the World Cup stop in Sydney, breaking his first individual world record, clocking 51.16 in the 100m butterfly.
It was at the 1998 FINA World Championships in Perth, in front of a home crowd that Klim produced his best performance. On home soil, Klim claimed seven medals in seven events, four of which were gold. His effort is considered today as the most outstanding performance by an Australian at an international swimming event.
Yet, as Klim says, “The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was Australia’s coming out party,” or at least its return to the greatness that was once common. In 1996, Australia ranked fifth at the Olympics, with just two gold medals won in the pool. After Sydney, Australia was a solid No. 2 behind the United States, with 18 total medals. Klim had a role in two of the gold medals and two of the silver medals. The biggest of these was his lead off swim in Australia’s triumphant 4x100m freestyle relay.
Klim walked away from Sydney with four medals, two gold and two silver, and three world records.
After the 2000 Games, Klim was plagued by a series of physical ailments which took two years to fully heal. The 2004 Games in Athens, was his third Olympics and he won a silver medal as a member of Australia’s 4x200m freestyle relay. He continued his successful comeback in Melbourne at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, winning gold in the 4x100m medley relay, silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay, and individually, a silver in the 100m butterfly and a bronze in the 50m butterfly.