The Top 10 Best Swimmers in MTV Challenge History

This Wednesday on Spies, Lies & Allies, players will be diving into the water for the first swimming challenge of the season. So many rookies will be thrown into the deep (literally) and will either sink or swim. Over the Challenge’s 37+ season history, we have seen so many excellent swimmers, from people who are simply naturals in the water to people who dominated in high school, and then even someone who kicked ass in college. Thus, I compiled the list to bring to you the 10 Best Swimmers the Challenge has ever seen, 5 men and 5 women. I also threw in a ton of honorable mentions. If someone is not an honorable mention that you think should be on the list, they either somehow slipped through the cracks, or there was a strong reason for me to omit them from the list. Let’s get into it!

A BOATLOAD OF HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Yes Duffy & Nehemiah Clark: Both shined in the epic first daily of Challenge All Stars. I couldn’t put one over the other.

Landon Lueck & Evan Starkman: Two elite competitors who were good at everything.

Brad Fiorenza: Great swimmer who should maybe be in the Top 5. He always had great swimming performances but never really got the wins.

Tony Raines & Paulie Calafiore: Great performances in recent years, not enough sample size.

Johnny Bananas & CT: Honestly, both are elite swimmers; they could easily be in the Top 5. CT did slow down a bit once he took on the Dad Bod, and Bananas is just not on the level of the people at the top of this list.

Miz: He claims to have done the swimming challenge from Champs vs. Stars 2 and outperformed both Wes and Shane. Miz was a swimmer in high school.

Chuky Mowery & Ammo: Two wild cards with swimming backgrounds, we just literally have never seen them compete in the water.

Evelyn Smith & Laurel Stucky: The two best female competitors in Challenge history. They might be Top 5 Female Swimmers, but it’s neither of their biggest strengths and because of that, we may underrate them as swimmers. Evelyn’s ability to hold her breath underwater allowed her to steal the final key on the Island and get a win.

Svetlana Shusterman: Was very good in the water, just a half-step below the elite players. Won a motorcycle on Duel 1 in a swimming challenge with Wes.

Nicole Zanatta: Put up an excellent swimming performance on Vendettas that gets slept on.

Jemmye Carroll: Former lifeguard, good swimmer, was a half-step below Nicole on Vendettas, and she didn’t make the Top 5. She won a swimming daily with Camila on Rivals 2.

Ashley Mitchell & Georgia Harrison: Solid modern swimmers.

Kina Dean & Jenn Grivalja: They were good! Trust me.

Paula Meronek: I see her name thrown around a lot. She is good, not great.

Big T: Saw a few replies asking about Big T. Big T is a solid swimmer, the issue is she does not have the sample size other players do, and while she got a win last season on Double Agents, she was not facing elite competition.

5 Abram Boise

Swimming and being in the water have always been one of Abram’s passions. From surfing in Hermosa Beach to swimming naked in the ocean, Abram has been a natural in water-based challenges. His most impressive performances include beating Kenny in an Island face-off and killing the underwater air pocket challenge from Bloodlines. Only four players completed the air pocket challenge; Abram and Bananas did well enough to win the challenge for their entire team. Abram’s face-off win on the Island was impressive because Abram originally started with a big lead. Then a tiny mishap basically forced Abram to complete an additional two laps, and even then, Abram was still able to beat an above-average swimmer in Kenny.

He has good speed and is very capable in terms of holding his breath underwater.

5 Jisela Delgado

Jisela’s ranking is primarily due to her performance of the opening challenge on All-Stars. Players had to swim out and dive deep into cold water and retrieve giant puzzle blocks. According to all the vets I talked to, this was the hardest daily challenge they have ever competed in. Only two females in this challenge could retrieve the giant puzzle pieces, one of them being an honorable mention on this list, Jemmye Carroll. Jemmye grabbed one, and Jisela grabbed two. Jisela was far and away the best female swimmer and outperformed elite male players in Mark, Derrick, and Alton. She did this all after not competing on the show in 15+ years.

4 Theresa Gonzalez (Jones)

For most of Theresa’s Challenge career, she did not get to display her swimming skills. That changed on Battle of the Exes 2. Partnered with Wes, one of the best swimmers in Challenge history, Theresa proved to not only be one of the best female swimmers in the game, she kept up with Wes. During the two major swimming challenges that season, she and Wes came in a close 2nd against the elite swimming duo of Jordan/Sarah and 1st in the other. The one they came in 2nd, Theresa had a freak accident where players were supposed to hold onto a set of ropes and then drop into the water, except her hand got caught in a knot, and she almost broke her hand. Luckily, Theresa escaped with no long-term damage; the immediate stinger did affect her performance, though, and even with that, she still almost pulled out the win with Wes.

In terms of peak performance, Theresa is up there with the best; the problem is, I cannot tell if that is always what she had in her.

4 Jordan Wiseley

What happens when you mix elite athleticism with a high degree of skill? That is Jordan Wiseley. Jordan excels at almost everything he does in the athletic realm. In terms of swimming, Jordan’s natural cardio makes him perfect for long-distances swims, and his athleticism allows him to kill short-distance sprints as well. He was one of the only people in the Challenge house who could somewhat keep up with Wes, and on War of the Worlds 2, when Wes left the game, Jordan put up the fastest swimming times of anyone in the house. Jordan has been competing in more Iron Man/Triathlon competitions in the last couple of years (and has done well), which means his already elite swimming has probably significantly improved.

3 Shane Landrum

From a pure performance standpoint on the Challenge, Shane is probably the best swimmer in the show’s history. Shane was a swimmer in High School, joined various swim clubs through college and adulthood, and in the water, he is seamless. Sadly for Shane, his opportunities to swim on the Challenge have been limited. When he has gotten to compete, he has shown out. On Fresh Meat 1, he won a swimming challenge alongside Linette that ironically put a target on them as they became seen as a strong team. During Vendettas, Shane pulled out a masterful underwater swimming performance where he left Bananas in the dust. Tony got the big congratulations from TJ because Tony’s team won the Challenge, whereas Shane’s teammates let him down.

Shane’s most impressive win was when he and Wes got to face-off on Champs vs. Stars. Brooke Hogan being a better swimmer than Boobie Gibson was a big reason why Shane got the win over Wes; nonetheless, Shane proved to be on Wes’s level, if not better. I miss Shane and everything he brought to the game.

3 Jodi Weatherton & Jenny West

I’m throwing in a tie for this one. Two women who are exceptionally fit and put up dominant swimming performances against their fields of competition. On The Duel 1, Jodi punched her ticket to the final by torching everyone in an epic swim. It was a hilarious moment as she let CT do most of their during their partner portion, and when it became individual, she put the jets on and crushed him and everyone else playing (including Wes & honorable mention Svetlana too). On War of the Worlds 2, Jenny torched all the other female competitors in a long-distance swim, where she totaled a time of 3 minutes and 38 seconds. She was 32 seconds better than the second best-time (Georgia) and only 23 seconds slower than Jordan, who was the #1 guy in that challenge and on this list. They are both physical beasts who can swim fast and for long-distances.

With Jodi potentially returning to the show on an All Stars season, watching her and Jenny go head to head in a swim in the 2020s is an actual possibility. It’s a non-zero chance.

2 Camila Nakagawa

Camila was awesome at everything on the Challenge except for being a good person. She was fast in the water and had the cardio to go long distances. Camila won the only swimming challenge on Battle of the Exes 1 with Johnny, won an additional challenge on Rivals 2 with Jemmye, and crushed most water portions during finals. She even outpaced CT by a healthy amount in their partnered swim in the Invasion. I don’t have much to say about this one other than she was clearly good at swimming.

2 Wes Bergmann

My heart wants to put Wes at #1 badly. If you notice, Wes, in many ways, is the measuring stick for other swimmers. Based on the fact people like Theresa, Jordan, Sarah, and Shane can keep up with Wes; we inherently know they are good swimmers. There are fans out there who think Johnny Bananas is a lousy swimmer because he’s gotten ass kicked across waters in Asia, South America, and Africa by Wes. In reality, Bananas is a great swimmer. Also important to note that Wes was a 3x State Champ in High School.

Wes at least is the most clutch swimmer in Challenge history. He won his first daily challenge ever with Svetlana in the Final 4 daily challenge of The Duel 1 in a comp nobody else could accomplish. The win guaranteed safety and forced an Evan vs. CT elimination. Wes then won the final 3 daily challenge, overtaking CT, to seal his spot in the final, which he won to cement his place in Challenge history. Along with Theresa, they edged out Jordan and Sarah to gain power on Exes 2, allowing them to pit Bananas/Nany against Leroy/Nia, resulting in an early exit for Bananas (had there not been a Redemption House).

Wes has more swimming feats as well. The only daily challenge that Wes won with Kenny on Rivals 1 was a swimming competition; he won one with CT on Rivals 2 as well, and then pulled out a Swimming + Puzzle win with Dee on War of the Worlds 1, where he literally taught her how to swim that season. It’s important to note that Wes hasn’t won every swimming challenge; he’s lost a fair share, most notably his inability to untie knots during the Champs vs. Stars 2 purge. Even then, when Wes performs poorly, he still comes in 2nd or 3rd and has stockpiled a plethora of wins others could only dream of. Again, it pains me to put him #2.

[NOTEWORTHY OMISSION: Alex Smith from Real World Denver was apparently a high-level collegiate swimmer. He was someone who slipped through the cracks when he researching because well, he never had much of a Challenge career. Alex should be on the list.]

1 Tyler Duckworth

From an objective standpoint, nobody is as good as Tyler Duckworth as a swimmer. He does not have the achievements Wes does on the Challenge because he has not had the same opportunities. The reason he is #1 is that in the outside world, Tyler was an impressive swimmer a the collegiate level and even national level. For example, in 2009, when Tyler was an Amateur (not even a full-time Swimmer), he put up a time of 55.24 seconds in the 100 Meter Individual Medley. At that point in time, the WORLD RECORD was 51.15, meaning Tyler was less than 5 seconds slower than Gold Medal Olympian Ryan Lochte. In College, Tyler qualified for the Swimming National Championship Meet, and holds the 200 Meter Breaststroke Record at Tufts College to this day.

When talking about who is the actual best swimmer, it would be absurd to put anyone else #1. Tyler is the right pick and the boring pick.

1 Sarah Rice

Someone I’m happy to place #1 for the females is Sarah Rice. Similar to Wes, Sarah is the measuring stick for other swimmers. If you can keep up with Sarah, you are a great swimmer. Sarah set the tone for herself in the first swimming daily ever on the Ruins. While her team lost, Cohutta was comparing her to a dolphin. On Cutthroat, during a partner swim with Laurel, they put up the best time on a winning team, and that was with Sarah having to wait a decent amount for Laurel to catch up to her. As mentioned above, Sarah and Jordan pulled out a swimming daily challenge win against Wes/Theresa and a close second-place finish in an additional swimming challenge (Jordan was the one that slowed them down).

Sarah has high-level performances mixed with large sample size. It is a deserved #1 ranking.

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Allan Aguirre

Allan Aguirre

10.6K Followers

26 years old. I blog about MTV's the Challenge and will dabble into other subjects occasionally. Follow me on Twitter for the occasional bad joke.