Paris Olympics 2024 (Team USA): Meet Swimmer Mariah Denigan

American swimmer Mariah Denigan, 20, is a freestyle and open-water specialist. Denigan swam the 10 km open water event at the 2022 FINA World Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary, coming in 15th. Grimes won the bronze medal in the 10-kilometer race at the World Aquatics Championships, securing her spot in the Olympics in Paris.

Mariah Denigan Qualified for Paris Olympics 2024

The 2024 World Aquatics Championships started in Doha, Qatar. US swimmers Mariah Denigan and Katie Grimes finished in the top 15 of the 10-kilometer open water race. Denigan took 6th place, which qualifies her to compete in the 10K event at the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics. Grimes had already qualified for Paris after winning bronze at last year’s World Championships.

 “It was a lot better than I think any other race has gone for me. I feel like I perfected my first lap and put myself in the perfect place for the last lap, so I was really happy with how I swam.” 

Denigan on her race

“That was where I felt most confident because I have been training for that moment, the last 1000, so I was reminding myself to stay calm, be in the moment, drive my stroke, and focus on my stroke technique to get my hand on the wall.”  

Denigan on the final stretch of the race

When heading into the last buoy, Denigan knew she had qualified for Paris based on the place she was in before even touching the wall. She finished 4.30 seconds behind gold medalist Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands.

After being 27th at the start of the 4th of 6 laps, Denigan moved up to eventually place 6th. She becomes the 5th American woman to qualify for the Olympic 10K race, joining Katie Grimes in Paris next year. Overall, Denigan is the 40th US athlete across all sports and just the 2nd from Indiana to make the 2024 Olympics.

Mariah Denigan’s Journey to the 2024 Paris Olympics

Open water swimming specialist Mariah Denigan has finally earned a spot to compete at the biggest sporting event in the world – the Summer Olympics. She will be heading to Paris, France where the 2024 Olympics will take place.

Denigan qualified by placing 6th in the 10-kilometer open water race at the World Aquatic Championships. Her finishing time of 1 hour 57 minutes 31.10 seconds was fast enough to meet the Olympic qualification standard. This marks the start of the most significant and challenging chapter of her athletic career so far.

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On Wednesday, Denigan will have a chance to also qualify for the 5-kilometer Olympic open water race. But for now, she is thrilled to be realizing her Olympic dream after her strong performance in the 10K event.

“I knew (I was headed for the Olympics) when I was heading into the finish buoy. I could see what place I was in, and I was like I did it, even before I finished.“, she said post the event. Whether Mariah secures the 5k open water berth or not, she’s well on the path to having a remarkable career.

Denigan says

Mariah Denigan Family, Age, and Early Life

Mariah Denigan was born on May 3, 2003, in Fairfield, Ohio. Her hometown is Walton, Kentucky. She is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds.

Her parents are Joshua and Candace Denigan. She has a 18-year-old sister named Mackenzie who also swims for the R.C. Durr Barracuda Swim Team in Ohio. Mariah also has a brother named Chase.

Mariah Denigan Family
Image: Mariah Denigan with her family in 2015 (Source: Mariah’s Instagram)

Denigan graduated from the Barren Academy of Virtual Expanded Learning with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She trains with the Northern Kentucky Clippers swim club under coach Norm Wright. Her best events are the 800-meter freestyle and 1500-meter freestyle races.

Mariah Denigan’s Early Swimming Career

In 2012, Denigan swam a very fast 500-yard freestyle time of 4:44.58 at the NAC January Tri-Meet. This was the second fastest 500 times of her career up to that point.

In 2018, at the Summer Nationals meet in Irvine, California, Denigan placed 6th in the 800 free, 10th in the 400 IM, 21st in the 400 free, and 7th in the 1500 free. Her results earned her a spot to compete at the 2018 Junior Pan Pacific Championships and the 2019 Pan American Games.

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At the 2018 Junior Pan Pacs held in Fiji, Denigan won silver in the 800 free, silver in the 400 IM, bronze in the 400 free, and silver in the 1500 free. She also competed at the FINA Junior Open Water World Championships in Israel that year.

In 2019, Denigan finished 7th in the 10-kilometer open water race at the Open Water Nationals in Miami. At the Pan American Games held in Lima, Peru, she won the silver medal in the 800-meter freestyle event. She also placed 4th in the 400 free, 4th in the 1500 free, and 5th in the 400 IM – just missing the podium by 0.18 seconds in the 400 free.

Professional Career

In 2021, SwimSwam ranked Denigan as the #7 recruit in her high school graduation class. She made major time drops in several events, cutting 4 seconds in the 400-yard IM, 16 seconds in the 1650-yard freestyle, 10 seconds in the 1000-yard freestyle, and close to 2 seconds in the 500-yard freestyle. Her improved times earned her an invitation to compete at the NCAA Championships.

In 2022, Denigan was competing in her third World Aquatics Championships. She finished 15th in the 10-kilometer open water race in 2022 and then 8th in the same event at the 2023 Worlds held in Fukuoka. Now Denigan has qualified for her first Olympics, which will take place in Paris in 2024. At this week’s World Championships, she will also race in the 5-kilometer event.

At the 2023 Big Ten Swimming Championships, Denigan swam very fast in early season times. She finaled in the 400 IM, 500 free, and 1650 free – setting personal bests along the way. Her time of 15:57.82 in the mile was her first under 16 minutes.

At the 2023 NCAA Swimming Championships, Denigan focused only on freestyle events. She placed 23rd in the 500 free and scored her first NCAA points with an impressive 7th-place finish in the 1650 free in a new personal best time of 15:52.18.