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Claudia Poll
Claudia Poll.jpg
Poll in 2011
Personal information
Nationality  Costa Rica
Born (1972-12-21) 21 December 1972 (age 51)
Managua, Nicaragua
Height 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Sport Swimming
Strokes Freestyle
Club Asociación de Natación Cariari
Medal record
Women's swimming
Representing  Costa Rica
Olympic Games
Gold 1996 Atlanta 200 m freestyle
Bronze 2000 Sydney 200 m freestyle
Bronze 2000 Sydney 400 m freestyle
World Championships (LC)
Gold 1998 Perth 200 m freestyle
Silver 2001 Fukuoka 400 m freestyle
Bronze 1994 Rome 200 m freestyle
Bronze 1994 Rome 400 m freestyle
World Championships (SC)
Gold 1995 Rio de Janeiro 200 m freestyle
Gold 1995 Rio de Janeiro 400 m freestyle
Gold 1997 Gothenburg 200 m freestyle
Gold 1997 Gothenburg 400 m freestyle
Pan Pacific Championships
Gold 1993 Kobe 200 m freestyle
Gold 1997 Fukuoka 200 m freestyle
Gold 1997 Fukuoka 400 m freestyle
Silver 1993 Kobe 400 m freestyle
Silver 1997 Fukuoka 800 m freestyle
Bronze 1993 Kobe 800 m freestyle
Bronze 1995 Atlanta 200 m freestyle
Bronze 1999 Sydney 400 m freestyle

Claudia María Poll Ahrens (born 21 December 1972) is a Costa Rican / Nicaraguan former swimmer who competed in the 200 m to 800 m freestyle events. She is Costa Rica's only Olympic gold-medalist, having won the country's first Olympic gold medals at the 1996 Olympics in the 200 meter freestyle. She is a multiple national record holder in the freestyle events.

Her sister, Silvia, won Costa Rica's first Olympic medal, a silver medal, at the 1988 Games. As of 2021, Claudia and Silvia are the only Costa Ricans to have won a medal at an Olympics. Claudia also competed at the 2000 Olympics, where she won two bronze medals.

Moreover, she was the first person from Central America to win a gold medal, and the only person to do so, until the 2008 Olympic Games when Irving Saladino of Panama won a gold medal.


Claudia Poll began swimming in 1979 under coach Francisco Rivas and quickly became one of the best in Central America, winning many regional titles.

At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics she won the gold medal in the 200 m freestyle event. The win was the first gold medal for Costa Rica in the Summer Olympic Games. It was a surprising win because she beat the favorite German Franziska van Almsick. Dagmar Hase, also from Germany, won the bronze.

In 1997, she was named by Swimming World Magazine as the Female Swimmer of the Year.

At the Sydney 2000, Poll continued with her medal run and won two bronze medals. In Athens 2004, she just missed out on the 400 m freestyle final, finishing ninth in the heats.

In 2002, she was given a four-year doping ban after a failed test for norandrosterone, a metabolite the steroid nandrolone. Her ban was later reduced by FINA to two years. Poll claimed that the test and sampling methods were flawed and protested her innocence.

At the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games, she set the Games Records in the 200 and 400 freestyles (2:00.19 and 4:15.01), bettering the time her sister Silvia set at the 1986 Central American and Caribbean Games.

Poll served as a swimming analyst for the U.S. Telemundo network's Spanish-language coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, though she and most of the Telemundo broadcast crew performed their duties at the network's studios in Hialeah, Florida, accompanied by video provided by Olympic Broadcasting Services.


  • Declared "Honor Citizen" by the Costa Rican Congress in 1996 ;
  • First Latin American woman to win an Olympic swimming gold medal;
  • Costa Rican Sportswoman of the Year in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000;
  • Named Best Latin American Athlete in 1995, 1996, and 1997 by the Agencia Prensa Latina
  • Named 1997 World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World Magazine; and
  • Declared Costa Rica's Athlete of the Century in 1999.


Claudia’s parents are both German, but they moved to Nicaragua before starting a family. Claudia and her sister Silvia were both born in Managua, Nicaragua, but moved shortly after Claudia’s birth in 1972. Political tensions were rising and after an earthquake that shook the city, the family decided it would be safer to move to Costa Rica. She, her sister Silvia, and their mother are not related to Marlene Ahrens, another Olympic athlete and medalist and another Latin American of German descent.

Claudia graduated in Business Administration from the Universidad Internacional de las Américas, San José, Costa Rica, in 1998. Poll became a mother for the first time on August 8, 2007. Her daughter's name is Cecilia. Claudia's older sister Silvia Poll was also a competitive swimmer who won a silver medal in 1988, Costa Rica's first ever Olympic medal.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Claudia Poll para niños

  • List of doping cases in sport
  • World record progression 200 metres freestyle
  • World record progression 400 metres freestyle
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