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Amy Van Dyken

1996 Olympic Superstar

In the 1996 Olympic Trials, Van Dyken finished in first place in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle races and second in the 100-meter butterfly race. In addition to these three events, she would also swim in the women's relays at the Olympics in Atlanta.

Chronology

1973 Born February 15 in Englewood, Colorado
1979 Takes up swimming on doctor's advice, to help with asthma
1990-91 Becomes star of Cherry Creek High School swim team
1991-93 Attends University of Arizona at Tucson; earns All-American honors fourteen times; in 1992 just misses a place on the U.S. Olympic swim team; suffers from mononucleosis in 1993 and says she will give up swimming but comes back
1994 Transfers to Colorado State University, where she sets seven school and Western Athletic Conference (WAC) records as a junior; wins three medals at World Swimming Championships in Rome, Italy
1995 Wins three gold medals and one silver medal at Pan American Games; accepts invitation to join U.S. Resident National Team to train for Olympics but has to give up last season at Colorado State; marries Alan McDaniel in October—the couple will later divorce
1996 Qualifies for U.S. Olympic team; wins 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle races and finishes second in 100-meter butterfly at Olympic Trials; places fourth in 100-meter freestyle at Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, but goes on to win four Olympic gold medals and becomes an international celebrity
1997 Resumes training, for World Swimming Championships
1998 Wins two gold medals at World Swimming Championships in Perth, Australia; has shoulder surgery in June to repair a tear
2000 In January, has another shoulder surgery to repair rotator cuff, remove scar tissue, and shave bone spurs; surgeons say she will never race again; qualifies for U.S. Olympic team and competes in 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, placing fourth in 50-meter and winning two more gold medals in women's relays
2001 Marries Tom Rouen, punter for the Denver Broncos football team; finishes sixth place in her first triathlon on February 24 in Colorado Springs; finishes second triathlon in July 2001; begins working part-time as sports reporter for a Denver television station
2002 Continues to train as triathlete, setting her sights on 2003 Hawaiian Ironman Championships

Awards and Accomplishments

1990-91 Earned six high school All-American honors, set three state records, and broke five school marks in swimming; earned Colorado Swimmer of the Year honors
1991 Named Colorado Swimmer of the Year
1992 silver medals in 50-meter and 50-yard freestyle races at U.S. Swimming Championships
1993 Finished second in 50-meter freestyle and third in 100-meter butterfly at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Swimming Championships
1994 Set seven school and Western Athletic Conference (WAC) records at Colorado State University; named Colorado State's 1994 Female Athlete of the Year; given Joe Kearney Award by WAC as best females athlete of the year; set new American record at NCAA Swimming Championships, winning women's 50-meter freestyle in 21.77 seconds, becoming only the second woman in the world to break the 22-second barrier in this event; named NCAA Swimmer of the Year; earned All-American honors in 100-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle relay, and 200-meter medley relay; named Collegiate Swimming Coaches Athletic Association National Swimmer of the Year; inducted into Sportswomen of Colorado Hall of Fame; won silver medals in 400-meter freestyle and 400-meter medley relays and a bronze medal in 50-yard freestyle at World Championships
1995 Won three gold medals and one silver at Pan American Games; d>named Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine 1996 Won four gold medals in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, in 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 400-meter freestyle relay, and 400-meter medley relay, making her the first American woman to win four gold medals in one Olympic Games; named Sportswoman of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation; voted Swimmer of the Year by U.S.A. Swimming; voted Sportswoman of the Year by the Associated Press and by the U.S. Olympic Committee
1998 Won two gold medals at World Swimming Championships in Perth, Australia, in 50-meter freestyle and 4×100-meter relay
2000 At Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, won gold medal in women's 400-meter freestyle relay, as part of U.S. team that broke the record for this event, with a time of 3:36.61; won gold medal for swimming preliminaries of the 400-meter medley relay; finished fourth in 50-meter freestyle
2001 Inducted into Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

In her first event, the 100-meter freestyle, Van Dyken was extremely nervous and finished in fourth place, lying at the side of the pool suffering from leg and neck cramps. But she bounced back after this disappointment and won a gold medal as part of the women's 400-meter freestyle relay team, swimming the second fastest relay leg ever, at 53.91 seconds. She then won the 100-meter butterfly—which she had qualified for but had not practiced—with a time of 59.13 seconds, beating world champion Liu Limin of China by one one-hundredth of a second. Van Dyken's third gold medal came as part of the 400-meter medley relay team, and her fourth in the 50-meter relay. Just before that final race, she later told how she gave world champion Le Jingyi of China a nasty look, clapped her hands at her, and spat pool water in her lane. Van Dyken beat Jingyi with a time of 24.87 seconds-three one-hundredths of a second ahead of the champion, and set a new American record. The win earned Van Dyken the title of world's fastest female swimmer. She told the press, "This victory is for all the nerds out there. For all the kids who are struggling, I hope I'm an inspiration for them to keep plugging away."

Van Dyken's four Olympic gold medals made her an overnight superstar. She was named Sportswoman of the Year by both the Associated Press and the U.S. Olympic Committee. She received a visit from U.S. President Bill Clinton and made numerous television appearances. Her gold medal wins put her in the category of Olympic greats Janet Evans, Florence Griffith-Joyner, and Melissa Belote, each of whom won three gold medals in an Olympics.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsSwimmingAmy Van Dyken Biography - Swimming To Control Asthma, Success In College, 1996 Olympic Superstar, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments - CONTACT INFORMATION