Brooke Bennett (USA)
Honor Swimmer (2010)
FOR THE RECORD: 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (800m freestyle); 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (400m, 800m freestyle); 1994 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (800m freestyle); 1998 WORLD CHAMPI-ONSHIPS: gold (800m freestyle), silver (400m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay); 2000 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (25m): silver (800m freestyle); 1995 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (400m freestyle), silver (800m free-style); 1995 Pan PacificChampionships: gold (400m, 1500m freestyle); 1997 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (800m, 1500m freestyle), silver (400m freestyle); 1999 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (400m, 800m freestyle); 13 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2-400m freestyle, 2-500y freestyle, 3-800m freestyle, 2-1000y freestyle, 2-1500m freestyle, 2-1650y freestyle.
Growing up in Plant City, Florida on a farm surrounded by a menagerie of animals, Brooke loved the water and swam a length of the family pool at the age of two. By age six she was a local swim club champ.
Swimming for the Brandon Blue Wave, she took to the distance freestyle events and at age fourteen, she won the bronze medal in the 800 meter freestyle at the 1994 Rome World Championships. A bit cocky and eager to win, she used the 1995 PanAmerican Games gold-medal win in the 400m freestyle as a stepping stone to win the 1996 Olym-pic 800 meter freestyle gold medal which she repeated in 2000 win the 1996 Olym-pic 800 meter freestyle gold medal which she repeated in 2000 at the Sydney Games. Following in the footsteps of her rival but friend, Janet Evans, it was only the second back-to-back 800m freestyle win in Olympic history just as Janet had done in 1988 and 1992. With a time of 8:19.67, she broke Janet’s 12 year old Olympic record in the process.
Brooke Bennett had become one of the world’s greatest female distance swimmers. She also won the 400m freestyle gold medal in Sydney and the 800m freestyle gold at the 1998 World Championships. Three of her 13 U.S. National Championships were in the 800m freestyle. All totaled she had three Olympic gold medals from two Olympic Games; a gold, silver and bronze medals from two World Champion-ships; gold and silver medals from one Pan American Games and a silver medal from one World Championships short course.
She was the 1995 USOC Sports Woman of the Year for Swimming. Serious operations on both her shoulders in 2001 limited her participation in ensuing years.