Amy Van Dyken – 1995
The fastest female swimmer in the history of the United States first gained recognition at Cherry Creek H.S. as a six-time All-America, Athlete of the Year and winner of State, Junior National and Olympic Festival championships. Unbelievably, she couldn’t even swim across the pool until she was 12.
Next to her constant battles with asthma and frequent detours for medical attention, the stroke of fate which most influenced Amy’s meteoric rise from promising prepster to World-elite mermaid, was her 1993 transfer from the University of Arizona to Colorado State University.
By 1994, she was a 19-time All-America, WAC Female Athlete of the Year, National Collegiate Champion, American record-holder in the 50-yard freestyle and NCAA Division I Swimmer of the Year and 1994 was not yet over.
In her first venture overseas, Amy captured three World Championship medals and set an American record in Rome. She then won her sprint specialty at the U.S. Open and made the United States National Team.
The lean 6-footer gave an even more spectacular performance in 1995, bettering the American short-course mark for the 50-yard freestyle, twice eclipsing the American and U.S. Open records for the 50-meter freestyle and successfully defending her U.S. National freestyle title.
After establishing a world short-course standard for the 50 butterfly in Finland, winning three golds and silver in the Pan-American Games and bringing home two golds and silver from the Pan-Pacific Championships, she was #1 in the World and Swimming Magazine’s 1995 Swimmer of the Year. But her greatest glory, however, was yet to come.
In the 1996 Summer Games at Atlanta, Amy won four gold medals, more than any woman ever had collected in a single Olympiad. But she still wasn’t ready to retire. Overcoming an injured shoulder, the Sportswomen of Colorado hall of Famer swam on to silver in the 1998 World meet.