FOR THE RECORD: 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 400m IM); 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (800m freestyle), silver (400m freestyle); 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: participant; SEVEN WORLD RECORDS: 2 (400m freestyle), 3 (800m freestyle), 2 (1500m freestyle); 1991 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (400m freestyle, 800m freestyle), silver (200m freestyle); 1994 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (800m freestyle), bronze (4x200m freestyle relay); 1993 SHORT COURSE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 4x2OOm freestyle relay); 45 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 11 (400m freestyle), 2 (400y freestyle), 2 (1000y freestyle), 12 (800m freestyle), 1 (1650y freestyle), 8 (1500m freestyle), 1 (200m IM), 2 (400y IM), 5 (400m IM); 7 NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2 (500y freestyle), 2 (1650y freestyle), 2 (400y IM), 2 (4x200y freestyle relay).
Being teased by other swimmers because
of her lack of height and weight while growing up only fueled her to be more
competitive and vigorous in the water. Even
at 5 feet 4 inches and 99 pounds during her peak years, Janet Evans turned her
"windmill-in-a-hurricane" stroke into the machine that won one silver
and four Olympic gold medals, set seven world records and qualified for three
successive Olympic teams. She was
the first American woman to win four individual Olympic gold medals in swimming.
As a distance freestyler and 400 IMer, she turned in over half of the top
ten 400m and 800m freestyle world best performances in a four-year period. After
Shane Gould of Australia, she is only the second female swimmer to hold three
world records concurrently (400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle), recognizing her as
the USA's greatest female distance swimmer. In just a few short years, she was
groomed from swimmer to world hero.
Evans was a very active child who loved
swimming. By age three she could do at least half of an I.M.. As a member of the
Fullerton Aquatic Swim Team under coach Bud McAllister, she was a coach's dream,
always trained hard, never complained and focused on improving. All but the fly
came naturally to her. In 1984 at age thirteen, she won her first U.S. Junior
Nationals (1500m freestyle). In 1987 she opened onto the national and
international scene winning her first of 45 U.S. National Championships over a
nine year period and first of 12 Pan Pacific gold medals having qualified in
four Pan Pacific Championships. 1987 was also the first year of three World
Swimmer of the Year titles (1987,1989,1990).
In the year before the 1988 Seoul
Olympic Games, Janet set three of her seven World Records. Her 400m freestyle
time of 4:05.45 broke Hall of Famer Tracy Wickham's (AUS) nine-year-old mark and
her 8:17.12 800m freestyle time broke the 1978 world record time, also held by
Tracy. Janet also set the 1500m freestyle record at 16:00.73, beating Hall of
Famer Kim Linehan's 1979 world mark. During her career, Janet set each of these
records a second time and a third time for the 800m.
The next year in Seoul, Janet became
the first female since Hall of Famer Debbie Meyer in 1968 to win three
individual Olympic events - the 400m and 800m freestyle and 400m individual
medley. It was her trademark "bursts of speed," a rapid and timely
increase in stroke rate towards the end of each race, that boosted her to defeat
competitors sometimes 60 pounds stronger and with longer arms and bodies. By
capturing the golds, she captured the hearts of millions of people. At age 17
and still a student at El Dorado High School, Placentia, California, she became
a household name, a celebrity and public speaker.
In 1989, she was elected U.S.O.C.
Sports Woman of the Year and received the Sullivan Award as the most prestigious
amateur athlete in the United States. This
is only the fourth time in the award's history that a female swimmer has been
After two years at Stanford University
in the early 1990s swimming for Olympic coach Richard Quick and winning 7 NCAA
National Championships as well as NCAA Swimmer of the Year, Janet moved to
Austin, Texas to be with Olympic coach Mark Schubert who prepared her for the
1992 and 1996 Olympic teams. In
Barcelona in 1992, Janet made Olympic history by becoming the first female to
win the 800m freestyle for a second time. She also won the silver in the 400m
freestyle. At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics at the age of 24, she competed as
captain on her third U.S.A. Olympic team, culminating a career filled with
success and excitement.
Janet's familiar pose was standing on
top of the victory stand. She won six medals
at the 1991 and 1993 short course and 1994 World Championships. After college
competition, she became eligible to pursue many sponsorship endorsements.
She was elected to the First FINA Athletes Commission (1992), chosen as
the Atlantic Games Olympic stadium torchbearer with Mohammed Ali and had
"The Janet Evans
International" in Los Angeles named in her honor. This energy-efficient,
two-beat freestyle swimmer, unusually humble with a smile that won a million
hearts, is a swimmer who loved competition, loved racing and loved sharing it
with all who asked.
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