Derya Büyükuncu

Derya Büyükuncu (pronounced [ˈdeɾja ˈbyjycˈundʒu]; born 2 July 1976) is a six-time Olympic backstroke and butterfly swimmer from Turkey. The 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in) tall athlete at 90 kg (200 lb) is a member of Galatasaray Swimming. His coach is Zehra Büyükuncu.[1][2]

Derya Büyükuncu
Personal information
National team TUR
Born (1976-07-02) 2 July 1976
Istanbul, Turkey
Height1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) (2012)
Weight90 kg (198 lb) (2012)
StrokesBackstroke, butterfly
ClubGalatasaray Swimming
College teamUniversity of Michigan
CoachZehra Büyükuncu

He participated in six consecutive Summer Olympic Games: 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing, 2012 London. He is one of the first two (together with Lars Frölander) swimmers to participate in six Olympic Games.

Early years

At the age of nine, Büyükuncu became a national swimmer, and won a bronze medal in the 12-year-age category at the 1985 Balkan Swimming Championships held in Bulgaria. At the 1987 Balkan Championships held in Izmir, he won five gold medals. He repeated his five-fold gold medal performance at the 1989 Balkan Championships in Greece. In 1990, he took three gold medals at the Balkan Junior Championships held in Romania.[3]

Büyükuncu earned two gold medals at the 1991 European Junior Swimming Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. That year, he was named "Sportsman of the Year" by Milliyet. In 1992, he won the gold medal at the European Junior Swimming Championships held in Leeds, United Kingdom setting a new European juniors record. In so doing, he became the first ever Turkish swimmer to hold a European juniors record.[2][3]

Büyükuncu set a Games record in the 200m backstroke event at the 1993 Mediterranean Games in France and won the gold medal. The same year, he won two gold medals at the U.S. Open in Ann Arbor, Michigan and broke the record in the 100 yard backstroke event, beating world champion and record holder Jeff Rouse. Setting a record in the 100 yard backstroke, that is as of 2012 still unbroken, and a record in the 100 yard freestyle, Büyükuncu won two gold medals at the 1994 U.S. High School Swimming Championships. In 1993, he was named the "Male High School Swimmer of the Year" by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) in the USA. He became the first ever Turkish swimmer to appear on the cover of Swimming World Magazine' in August 1994.[2][3][4]

Between 1994 and 1998, Büyükuncu set University of Michigan records in the 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke and 100 m butterfly events. In that time span, he set Big Ten Conference records in 100m and 200m backstroke, and was named the "Most Successful Swimmer" of Big Ten Conference in 1996 and 1998.[2][3][5]

Athletic career

In 1996, Derya Büyükuncu earned five gold medals at the 1996 Balkan Championships in Romania. He took the bronze medal at the 1997 Mediterranean Games in Bari, Italy. Winning a gold medal at the 1998 World Swimming Cup in Canada, he became the first ever Turkish swimmer to win an international competition.[6]

In the 100m backstroke event, he earned a silver medal at the European Short Course Swimming Championships 1999 in Lisbon, Portugal and a bronze medal at the 2000 European Aquatics Championships held in Helsinki, Finland.[7][8]

As of 2012, Büyükuncu holds national records in 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke events set in 2009. He has been a Turkish national team member for more than 25 years.[9][10]

Büyükuncu qualified to participate at the 2012 Summer Olympics. 2012 Summer Olympics was his sixth consecutive Olympics.[1][2][11]

Media career

Derya Büyükuncu participated at the Yok Böyle Dans (Turkish version of Dancing with the Stars) TV Show in 2010 and he got the fourth place. He also participated at the Survivor Turkey TV Show in 2011 and ended up winning the title of "Sole Champion Survivor".


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
1991 Mediterranean Games Athens, Greece 2nd 100m backstroke
1992 European Junior Championships Leeds, United Kingdom 1st 100m backstroke 58.53
Summer Olympics Barcelona, Spain 5th qual h 100m backstroke 57.38
8th qual h 200m backstroke 2:06.01
1993 Mediterranean Games Nice, France 1st 200m backstroke
1996 Summer Olympics Atlanta, Georgia, United States 27th 100 butterfly 54.89
19th 100m backstroke 56.71
21st 200m backstroke 2:04.28
1997 Mediterranean Games Bari, Italy 3rd 100m backstroke
1998 World Aquatics Championships Perth, Australia 22nd 100m freestyle 51.58
27th qual h 100m butterfly 55.73
27th qual h 100m backstroke 57.31
1999 European Championships SC Lisbon, Portugal 2nd 100m backstroke 53.17
2000 European Aquatics Championships Helsinki, Finland 3rd 100m backstroke
FINA World Championships SC Athens, Greece 3rd 100 m backstroke 52.88
Summer Olympics Sydney, Australia 15th qual h 100m backstroke 56.21
2004 European Short Course Championships Vienna, Austria 8th 100m backstroke
4th 200m backstroke
Summer Olympics Athens, Greece 26th pl 100m backstroke 56.34
22nd 200m backstroke 2:02.69
European Aquatics Championships Madrid, Spain 13th SF 50m backstroke 26.62
8th 100m backstroke 56.14
7th 200m backstroke 2:02.12
2005 World Aquatics Championships Montreal, Canada 29th 100m backstroke 56.81
14th sf 200m backstroke 2:01.58
2007 European Short Course Championships Debrecen, Hungary 10th 200m backstroke
World Aquatics Championships Melbourne, Australia 28th 50m backstroke 26.71
27th 100m backstroke 56.50
18th 200m backstroke 2:01.57
2008 FINA World Short Course Championships Manchester, United Kingdom 18th 50m backstroke
18th 100m backstroke
10th 200m backstroke
Summer Olympics Beijing, China 24th 100m backstroke 55.43
22nd 200m backstroke 1:59.86
2009 World Aquatics Championships Rome, Italy 20th h 50m backstroke 26.07
17th h 100m backstroke 55.78
23rd h 200m backstroke 1:59.49
2010 FINA World Short Course Championships Dubai, U.A.E. 13th 200m backstroke
European Short Course Championships Eindhoven, Netherlands 11th 100m backstroke
5th 200m backstroke
European Aquatics Championships Budapest, Hungary 28th 50m backstroke
22nd 100m backstroke
15th 200m backstroke


  • 1991 Milliyet "Sportsman of the Year"
  • 1993 National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) "Male High School Swimmer of the Year"
  • 1998 "Most Successful Swimmer" of the Big Ten Conference


  1. "Türk Sporcular 2012 Londra Olimpiyatlarında-Yüzme-Derya Büyükuncu" (in Turkish). GSB. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  2. "An Even Half-Dozen: Derya Buyukuncu Set to Swim in Sixth Olympics for Turkey". Swimming World Magazine. 2012-06-21. Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  3. "'Yok Böyle Dans' için Şampiyona'ya katılmadı". Hürriyet Spor (in Turkish). 2012-12-22. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  4. "Michigan All-Time Top Yards Performers" (PDF). Big Ten Championships Guide. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  5. "Swimming and Diving Records". University of Iowa. Archived from the original on 2005-05-07. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  6. Demirbilek, Celal. "Altın Yıl Yaşadık-1997'de 1134 madalya alındı. Ve 251 rekor kırıldı". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  7. "Germany, Sweden and Italy could celebrate "medal jubilees"". European Championships. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  8. "European Championships July 4". Swimming World Magazin. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  9. "13. Avrupa kısa kulvar yüzme şampiyonası İstanbul'da başladı-Türkiye rekoru kırıldı". Milli Gazete (in Turkish). 2009-12-11. Archived from the original on 2013-04-18. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  10. "Derya Büyükuncu: "Hiçbir zaman derece sözü vermedim"". HT Hayat (in Turkish). Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  11. "Derya Büyükuncu 6. kez olimpiyatlarda". CNN Türk (in Turkish). 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
Olympic Games
Preceded by
Hamza Yerlikaya
Flagbearer for  Turkey
Atlanta 1996
Succeeded by
Kerem Ersü
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