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Penny Oleksiak

Why They're Awesome

Learned to swim at age 9 because she enjoyed swimming in the backyard with friends

Trains every day, sometimes twice a day, in the pool or in the weight room

She's really tall - standing at 6'1" (186 cm)

Her grey blankie is her good luck charm and she travels with it wherever she goes

Older brother Jamie is a defenseman with the Dallas Stars

Penny has gone from not swimming to being one of Canada’s fastest swimmers in 5 years.

Snagged 6 medals at the 2015 FINA World Junior; won silver for 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly, and 100m freestyle.

Listen Up

"To go with those three girls I train with every day helped me so much. I wasn’t expecting myself to go as fast as that, but those three girls really helped me through it." (from Swimming Canada)


The oldest swimming stroke is the breaststroke. Paintings of swimmers found on cave walls in southwest Egypt suggests it goes all the way back to the Stone Age!

At the Athens Olympics in 1896, there was a 100m race open only to sailors of the Greek Navy. Only 3 sailors raced, and they were all slower than all other 100m swimmers.

Four strokes are used in Olympic competition: Freestyle Crawl, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly. Freestyle Crawl is the fastest and most popular.

Go Further

Explainer video

90 second guide to Olympic synchronized swimming

Get colouring!

Olympic Games colouring sheet - Swimming

Fun facts

The Olympic Games’ weirdest rules

Refugee Team

Refugee Olympic Team makes history