Amy van Dyken   [1973]

Professional Sports Figure

Amy Van Dyken by Gage Skidmore.jpg


Amy Van Dyken is an American Olympic athlete, and has won six career gold medals in Butterfly and Free Style swimming. Four of these gold medals came in the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia. This singular achievement in 1996, when she was 23 years old, made her the first American female to win four gold medals in a single Olympic Games. Four years later, when she was 27 years old, in the Summer Olympic Games at Sydney, Australia she won two more gold medals, thus giving her a total of six gold medals in the Olympics, an unusual and dramatic achievement.

What made the above Olympic achievements even more remarkable was the fact that Amy is an asthmatic, who suffered from severe asthma throughout her childhood and into adulthood. She took up the sport of swimming at the advice of her doctor who felt that the sport of swimming would strengthen her lungs, and enable her to cope with the asthmatic condition.

Amy began her swimming career as a high school student in Greenwood Village, Colorado. During her high school days she became the Colorado state champion and a Colorado state record holder in the 50 yard free style and in the 100 yard butterfly. Prior to the 1992 Summer Olympics, when she was 19, she tried out for a berth on the American Olympic swimming team, but placed fourth, just missing the cut off because there were only three positions on the team. During her college years, first at the University of Arizona, and later at Colorado State University, she excelled as a competitive college swimmer. In 1994, Amy was named the NCAA Female Swimmer of the Year.

Amy was in her best physical condition during the 1996 games. Her performance in winning four gold medals earned her plaudits from many organizations. She was named swimmer of the year by the ESPN Awards organization, and by the magazine SWIMMING WORLD. She was also inducted in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. In addition she was also named swimmer of the year by four different national organizations, and was honored in other ways by numerous other national organizations for her swimming achievements. She also appeared on the front cover of TIME, NEWSWEEK, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, SWIMMING WORLD, AND USA TODAY.

As the 2000 Summer Olympics approached Amy was troubled by a number of sports injuries. But as Olympic trial time arrived she was able to compete, and made the American Olympic team in the 50 meter Free Style, the 4x100 Medley Relay, and the 4x100 Freestyle Relay. At the Olympic Games Amy was able to win gold medals in the latter two events and came in 4th in the 50 meter freestyle. Needless to say, Amy was elated, and the two gold medals gave her a total of six gold medals during the two consecutive Olympic Summer Games of 1996 and 2000.

Following the 2000 Summer Olympics, Amy retired from swimming, and became a speaker appearing in front of such varied groups as schools and multi-national corporations. She is also involved in a number of charities, and coaches the varsity swim team at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Amy Van Dyken was born in Englewood, Colorado on February 15, 1973. Her parents are Don Van Dyken, a computer software engineer and Becky Van Dyken. Amy is married to Tom Rouen, a punter in the National Football League, and currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona. In May, 2007, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and in July 2008 she was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame.

 

REFERENCES

Amy Van Dyken, http://sports.jrank.org

Amy Van Dyken, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Van_Dyken

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