Tiffany Cohen (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1996)
FOR THE RECORD: 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (400m and 800m freestyle); 1982 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (400m freestyle); 1983 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (400m and 800m freestyle); 14 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 400m, 800m 1000yd, 1500m freestyle.
She swam at a time when Tracy Wickham of Australia held all the world records in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and most of them for a period of nine and one-half years. But Tiffany Lisa Cohen (TLC for short) was a competitor, and she raced whomever was next to her. Said her coach Mark Schubert, “Tiffany has that great ability to rise to the occasion when the gun goes off.”
Cohen joined the Mission Viejo Swim Team in 1980 and swam her first U.S. Nationals one year later in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, winning the 400m freestyle, the first of fourteen U.S. National Championships in the 400m, 800m 1000m and 1500m freestyle events.
In only her second complete year of competition, she won the bronze medal in the 400m freestyle behind GDR swimmers Carmela Schmidt and Petra Schneider at the 1982 World Championships in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The following year her international competitions were at the Caracas Pan American Games where she won gold medals in the 400m and 800m freestyles and the Pan Pacific Championships where she again won the 400m and 800m freestyles.
Tiffany likes to be the leader both in and out of the water. She sets a good example and has a good attitude about competing in sport and life. She enjoys helping people and has that burning desire to succeed.
So when the Olympic Games of 1984 came, she was ready to take on the world and particularly East Germany’s Astrid Strauss who narrowly defeated Tiffany earlier in the year at the U.S. Swimming International. But the head to head competition was not to happen as the GDR boycotted the Games. Tiffany swam to an American record by winning the 400m freestyle and an Olympic record by winning the 800m freestyle, only 33 one-hundredths of a second short of Hall of Famer Tracy Wickham’s world record. It was an Olympic performance of which to be proud.
Following the Olympics of Los Angeles, Tiffany continued to compete and win, helping her Mission Viejo team on its way to a record number of national championships. She attended the University of Texas, winning five NCAA National titles for her team and coach Richard Quick. Said Quick of Cohen, “Tiffany has the mark of a champion. Just to swim well isn’t enough. She doesn’t like losing.”
In 1987, Tiffany retired from competitive swimming to battle bulimia, an eating disorder. She has embarked on a campaign to educate the public about the perils of eating disorders. She and her husband Bill are expecting their first child, and she will continue her lecturing career and concentrate on being a full-time mom. That’s Tiffany – focused both in and out of the water.