Women in Sports: Swimming

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
  • Swimming became an Olympic event in 1908, but women weren't allowed to compete until 1912. Fanny Durack of Australia became the first female to win a gold medal in the 100-yard freestyle race that year.
  • Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim the English Channel. In 1926 she swam from France to England in 14 hours and 39 minutes.
  • Florence Chadwick was the first woman to swim both ways across the English Channel. In 1950 she swam from France to England in 13 hours, 20 minutes. She swam the other way, from England to France, in 1951, '53 and '55, recording a personal best 13 hours, 55 minutes in 1955.
  • Donna de Varona of California is nicknamed the “Queen of Swimming.” She won 37 championship titles and two Olympic gold medals in the 1960s.
  • Pam Morris was the first synchronized swimmer inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1965.
  • Tracy Caulkins, a swimmer from the University of Florida, won three gold medals in the 1984 Olympics. She won the 400-meter individual medley and the 200 individual medley, setting an Olympic record for time. She also won a medal for the 400-meter team medley. She retired from swimming at age 21.
  • Janet Evans won four gold medals during the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. Amy Van Dyken won four in the 1996 Olympics and then added two more in 2000. But it's Jenny Thompson who holds the Olympic record for swimmers, with eight gold medals between 1988 and 2004. She also has three silver and one bronze, giving her 12 total, more than any other female swimmer in the world.
  • In 1999 American Dara Torres returned to swimming after a seven-year absence. She returned with a bang, winning five medals at Sydney in 2000, two gold and three bronze.
  • Marathon swimmer Susie Maroney of Australia swam from Isla Mujeres, Mexico to Las Tumbas, Cuba in 1998. It was a world record swim of 128 miles which took her 38 hours and 27 minutes to complete.
  • Lynne Cox was the first woman to swim the five miles of 40 degree ocean from Alaska to Russia. In 2003, she became the first woman to swim one mile in the Antarctic ocean wearing only a swimsuit, cap, and goggles.
  • The U.S. women’s water polo team beat Canada to win the gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games. Their win also granted them automatic entry into the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
  • At the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, the U.S. women's swim team had their most successful Olympics since the 1984 Games, including a world record time of 3:52.05 in 4x100 medley relay for the gold won by Dana Vollmer, Rebecca Soni, Allison Schmitt, and Missy Franklin. The US women's team won a total of 14 swimming medals, eight of them gold.
Amy Van Dyken
Amy Van Dyken
AP Photos

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