Gail Johnson (USA)
Honor Synchronized / Artistic Swimmer (1983)
FOR THE RECORD: WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1975 gold (solo, team); 1973 gold (duet, team); PAN AMERICAN GAMES: 1975 gold (solo, team); AAU NATIONALS: 26 (6 solo, 5 duet, 11 team, 4 figures); CANADIAN NATIONALS: 1969 (team), 1972 (duet, team); JAPANESE CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1974 (solo, duet, team); PAN PACIFIC GAMES: 1974 (solo, duet, team); TRI-COUNTRY: 1972 (solo, duet, team).
Gail Johnson was the champion among champions, first as a synchronized swimmer and them, after the untimely death of Hall of Fame coach Kay Vilen, as coach of the National, Pan American and World Champion Santa Clara Aquamaids. Her record of 26 National Championships over a 6-year period is phenomenal, particularly when you consider that for two years, she was commuting 120 miles every day to practice from her home in Walnut Creek to Santa Clara. Since 1979, with pressure from Canada and others to develop a U.S. National team concept, Gail has been a national team coach headquartered first in Santa Clara, then Portland, and now Detroit. Her coaches have been Jae Howell and the late Kay Vilen, who also coached her in coaching for 6 months before she died in 1976. Gail has won the Lawrence J. Johnson Award (no relation), the Helms Hall of Fame Honoree Award, and was a finalist first for her sport in the 1974 Sullivan Award, the U.S.A.’s Outstanding Amateur Athlete.