Susie Atwood (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1992)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1968 Olympic team member; 1972 Olympic bronze (100m backstroke); 1972 Olympic silver ( 200m backstroke); WORLD RECORD: 1 (200m backstroke); 3 WORLD RECORDS: relays; 18 AAU (100yd & 200yd backstroke, 200yd & 400yd individual medley); 5 AAU relays; Won 100yd & 200yd backstroke four consecutive years (indoors); PAN AMERICAN GAMES: 1971 silver (100m & 200m backstroke, 200m individual medley), bronze (400m individual medley); Long domination in the AAU Nationals; Held 200m backstroke World Records three years. AMERICAN RECORDS (Short Course): 9 (100yd & 200yd backstroke, 200yd & 400yd individual medley), 4 relays; AMERICAN RECORDS (Long Course): 2 (100m & 200m backstroke), 5
A dominant figure in United States swimming from 1969 through 1971, Susie Atwood’s record in U.S. National Championships was outstanding. She captured 23 national titles during her career which included a berth on two Olympic teams. A four-time World Record holder in the 200-meter backstroke and as a backstroker on the 400-meter medley relay, her prowess as America’s finest backstroke and individual medley swimmer of her era distinguishes her among the best in swimming history.
Sue began swimming at age seven under Jim Montrella at the Lakewood Aquatic Club in Long Beach, California, becoming one of the most consistent swimmers at the elite level. She is a six-time Bob Kiphuth High Point Award winner at the U.S. National Championships, second only to Tracy Caulkins who won a record 12 times. Sue set a total of 20 American records in the backstroke and individual medley as well as a relay team member.
At age fifteen, Atwood qualified as the top seed in the 200-meter backstroke at the 1968 Games in Mexico City but failed to make the finals. Sue’s disappointing Olympic debut fueled the fire for her road to the ’72 Games in Munich when she placed second to her teammate, Melissa Belote, in the 200-meter backstroke and took the bronze in the 100-meter backstroke. She held the American Record in the 400 I.M., but because of conflicts in the competition schedule, she did not swim the individual medley in Munich. Previous to that she had set the world record in the 200-meter backstroke. She had competed in the 1971 Pan American Games, winning five silver medals and a bronze. Beginning in 1969, she received the World Swimmer of the Year Award six times.
Susie’s contributions to swimming continued after she retired from competition. She went on to become an inspirational speaker and representative for Arena as well as swimming coach at Ohio State University.