Erin Popovich – 2008
Erin Popovich set 20 new swimming records at the 2008 Summer Paralympic games in Beijing last September. She won four gold medals and two silver medals, breaking two world records (200m individual medley and 100m breaststroke) and two Paralympic records (100m and 400m freestyle). She won three gold medals and three silver medals while setting four world records at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney. At the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Popovich won seven gold medals in seven races (including two relays), and set three world records and four Paralympic Games records.
Erin grew up in Montana, showing horses as a child. She wanted to be a veterinarian when she “grew up,” so she enrolled at Colorado State University. It was the perfect fit in so many ways! As a freshman, she walked on to the swim team – the DIVISION ONE swim team. Now, granted she was born within one day of Michael Phelps in 1985 and she knows Michael Phelps. They both have lots of medals hanging around their necks from the Beijing Olympics. There’s one small difference, Michael Phelps is 6 feet 5 inches tall. Our Sportswoman is 4 feet 5 inches tall.
John Mattos, coach of women’s swimming at CSU, describes his first meeting with our sportswoman this way, “She came in and sat down in my office and said she wanted to swim at the collegiate level. She was sitting in the chair across from me and her feet didn’t begin to touch the ground. We gave it a go and we’ve never looked back. She’s a gem to coach and to simply be around.”
Our Sportswoman of the Year graduated from CSU in 2008 with a degree in Health and Exercise Science. She isn’t going the veterinarian route anymore. She would like to go into medicine to study how the body works, how it adapts to training and how it can go BEYOND the perceived limitations of what we think it can and cannot do.
Erin showed the world that anything is possible!