Betsy Mitchell (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1998)
FOR THE RECORD: 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (4x100m medley relay), silver (l00m backstroke); ONE WORLD RECORD: 200m backstroke; 1986 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (l00m backstroke), silver (200M backstroke, 4 x100m medley relay, 4x100m, 4x200m freestyle relays); 11 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 100, 200 backstroke, relays; SEVEN NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 100yd., 200yd. backstroke, 200yd. I.M.; 1985 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (100m backstroke).
As a youngster, this swimmer’s dream was to make it to the Olympic Games. She started competitive swimming at the age of 5 and by age 13, swimming for the Marietta Ohio Y Marlins with Coach Jim Everett and later Tom Phillips of Parkersburg, West Virginia, she was winning backstroke and freestyle events in the local AAU Region. As a high schooler she competed for John Trembley at Mercersburg Academy, by her graduation in 1983, she was recognized as one of the best backstrokers in the country. After a year at the University of North Carolina, training with coach Jay Fitzgerald at the Cincinnati Pepsi Marlins, Betsy Mitchell qualified for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials. Having made the U.S. team and
competing in the Los Angeles Olympics, her first major international competition, she won a silver medal in the 100m backstroke, out touched by teammate Teresa Andrews by less that 1 tenth of a second. FINA also awarded a gold medal for her participation in the preliminary heat on the USA gold-medal winning 4 x 100m medley relay.
Betsy’s success was just beginning. She enrolled at the University of Texas and under Coach Richard Quick and late Mark Schubert, won seven NCAA National Championship, three titles in the 100 yard backstroke, two in the 200 yard backstroke and one title in the 200 yard individual medley for 1986, 1987 and 1988. She was selected as the 1987 Collegiate Swimmer of the Year and the 1986 U.S.S. Swimmer of the Year. She won the 100m back at the 1985 Pan Pacific Championships, the 1990 Goodwill Games and for three years running at the U.S. Open. She set American records for the 100m and 200m backstroke at the first U.S. Open in Austin, Texas in 1985.
It was at the 1986 World Championship Trials in Orlando, Florida, that Betsy surprised the world by setting the world record in the 200m backstroke by 1.3 seconds over Cornelia Sirch of East Germany. Her record stood for 7 years before it was broken y Krisztina Egerszegi of Hungary in 1996. At the V World Championships in Madrid, Betsy won the gold medal in the 100m backstroke and the silver in the 200m backstroke, only two one hundreds of a second behind Sirch. She also won silver medals on the 4 x 100m and 4 x 200m freestyle relays and the 4 x 100m medley relay for the United States. Along with Mary T. Meagher, she was the only swimmer to win an event at these World Championships other than the East Germans.
During her career, Betsy won a total of 11 U.S. National Championship in the 100m and 200m backstroke. She continues to be an inspiration to aspiring athletes first as Head Women’s Swimming Coach at Dartmouth College from 1990-1996 and now as Athletic Director at the Laurel School in Ohio.