When Tom Daley came out a few weeks ago, he joined a long line of speedo-clad aquasexuals: from gold-medal-snatching Olympians Greg Louganis, Bruce Hayes and Matthew Mitcham to swimmer turned designer, activist and professional man-candy Jack Mackenroth. We decided to snap on our swim caps — Esther Williams-style — and dive into the openly gay athletes who made laps and history in the pool.
Make sure you wait 30 minutes after eating to take a dip in Queerty’s list of 8 Openly Gay Swimmers (and 3 Divers).
Louganis dominated the world of diving in the 80s, racking up four gold medals between the 1984 and 1988 Olympics — two each in springboard and platform. After being diagnosed with HIV in 1988, Louganis came out in his best-selling autobiography, Breaking the Surface, which also gifted the world with Mario Lopez in a speedo for the made-for-TV movie .
And speaking of gifts, Louganis’ 1987 Playgirl spread keeps on giving:
Like Louganis, Goldsmith also contracted HIV but unfortunately he was not as lucky and Bobby died from AID-related complications in 1984. Before that, however, he was a prominent figure in Australia’s gay community and won 17 medals at the first Gay Olympics in San Francisco in 1982. The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation keeps the swimmer’s legacy alive as Australia’s oldest HIV charity.
Hayes went for the gold as part of the freestyle relay team at the 1984 Olympics and managed to parlay that fame into a Vanity Fair cover with Raquel Welch along with his other Grossbusters, as the media dubbed his teammates. He later became the first Olympic gold medalist to compete at the Gay Games in 1990 and the first American Olympic gold medalist to come out publicly in 1992.
Besides having the longest arms in the history of the world, Kowalski is notable for being the first man in almost a century to win medals in all of the 200-m, 400-m and 1500-m freestyle events at the 1996 Olympics. Inspired by Welsh rugby hunk Gareth Thomas, the Aussie Kowalski came out in 2010.
The Canadian with the adorable-sounding last name struck gold at the 1992 Olympics in the 100-m backstroke. He granted an anonymous interview in 1993, along with boxer Mark Leduc, about homophobia in sports before coming out publicly in 1998. He subsequently lost a six-figure contract as a motivational speaker for being “too openly gay,” but he’s since become a prominent gay rights activist.
Though he may not have medaled at an Olympics, Veatch competed at the 1988 Games in Seoul. He was 23 and later recalled that he “had not dealt with my sexuality yet.” He missed the 1992 Games thanks to a pulled hammy but Veach went on to win nine medals at the 1998 Gay Games.
As one of only eleven openly gay athletes at the 2004 Olympic games, Kenkhuis snatched a silver medal in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay, adding to the bronze he won four years earlier in Sydney. The Dutchman retired in 2006 but along the way this happened:
Naiads were water nymphs in ancient Greek mythology so it’s fitting that Diana Nyad became a legendary endurance swimmer. Nyad holds the record for longest ocean swim — 102.5 miles – and at the age of 64, Nyad continues setting records. She became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage back in September. An author and motivational speaker, Nyad was also quick to offer congratulations to fellow out athlete Jason Collins.
Mitcham and his ukulele dove into our hearts at the 2008 Olympics where he won gold in the 10-m platform. The Aussie has been one of the most visible and vocal openly gay athletes — whether promising to dive nude at the 2o12 Olympics or revealing his struggle with drug addiction – in hopes that his openness helps other gay athletes.
Though he may be known more nowadays for his sizable…assets, or maybe his stint on Project Runway, Mackenroth is also an accomplished swimmer. He holds three All-American titles, a Masters National Record in the 4×50 meter medley relay and has won gold in every Gay Games since 1990. Since being diagnosed with HIV in 1989, Mackenroth has also been a prominent activist within the LGBT and HIV-positive communities. That that activism sometimes includes a lack of clothing is just an added bonus:
Born in 1994, Daley started diving at seven years old. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Seoul he became not only his native Great Britain’s youngest athlete but also the youngest athlete to reach a final. Then last year, Daley snatched a Bronze medal in the 10-meter individual platform competition at the London Olympics. Daley came out as bi via YouTube earlier this month, citing his relationship with out screenwriter Dustin Lance Black as his inspiration. In what is an apparent trend with swimmers and divers, Daley also has an aversion to clothes. It must be the uniform.