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Mary T. Meagher - "the Butterfly Picked Me"

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Mary Terstegge Meagher was born October 27, 1964, in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of Jim and Floy Terstegge Meagher. She grew up with nine sisters and one brother. One of her sisters was Mary Glen, so Mary was called Mary T.—or simply "T." She began swimming at age five, and by age twelve she had a world-class butterfly stroke. It came naturally, she said. She didn't pick the butterfly—it picked her.

Nicknamed Fishy by her school friends, at age fourteen, Mary began winning national and international titles. In 1979, as an eighth grader, she beat the world record of 2:09.77 in the 200-meter butterfly by .1 second at the Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The world could hardly believe that a fresh-faced teen with braces and a stuffed frog named Bubbles could swim so fast.

Chronology

1964 Born October 27 in Louisville, Kentucky
1969 Begins swimming, at age 5
1976 Is practicing like a world-class swimmer, with the butterfly her best stroke
1979 Sets first world record, at Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, winning gold medal in 200-meter butterfly as an eighth grader; breaks her own world record at Long-Course Senior National Swimming Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, earning her the nickname "Madame Butterfly"
1980 Sets 100-meter butterfly world record at Indoor National Swimming Championships, breaking East German Andrea Pollack's record; at U.S. mock Olympic Trials, makes team for 100-meter and 200-meter butterfly, one freestyle swim, and two relays; U.S. President Jimmy Carter imposes boycott on 1980 Olympics in Moscow, dashing Meagher's Olympic hopes—she nearly gives up swimming
1981 Wins gold medal in 100-meter and 200-meter butterfly at national long-course championships in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, setting new records, at age 16
1982 Enters University of California; wins one gold and one silver medal at World Championships
1983 Wins gold medal at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships
1984 Wins three gold medals at 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, boycotted in turn by Eastern-bloc countries; wins three gold medals at national indoor championships
1985 Wins six gold medals in U.S. national competitions
1986 Wins gold medal in NCAA championships; wins one gold, one silver, and one bronze medal at World Championships
1987 Wins gold medal at NCAA championships; takes five months off from swimming to work as teacher's aide; graduates from University of California with a degree in early childhood development; Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center in Louisville, Kentucky, is opened in Meagher's honor
1988 Wins 200-meter butterfly at Olympic Trials; wins one silver and one bronze medal at Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea; retires from swimming, with a total of twenty-two U.S. championships and two world championships
1991 Serves on U.S. Olympic Committee as an athletes' representative
1993 Inducted into two swimming halls of fame
1996 Is chosen to be an Olympic flag bearer at the Games in Atlanta, Georgia
1999 Jenny Thompson breaks Meagher's 100-meter butterfly record at Pan Pacific Championships in Sydney, Australia
2000 Meagher's 200-meter butterfly world record is finally broken, by Australian swimmer Susan O'Neill, at the Australian Swimming Championships in Sydney
Mary T. Meagher - Chronology [next]

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