Dara Torres: The Comeback Swimmer


Hello swimming enthusiasts! In the spirit of the upcoming Olympic Trials, today I will be highlighting Dara Torres, a female swimming superstar who, in addition to being the oldest swimmer ever on the U.S. Olympic Team, was the first and so far only swimmer ever to represent the U.S. in five different Olympic Games.


Torres was born on April 15, 1967 in Beverly Hills, California, where she attended the Westlake School for Girls and swam on their swim team. By the age of twelve, she had set her first national record, and at the age of fourteen, she competed in her first international competition. In 1984, Torres became a part of the U.S. Olympic Team, winning the gold on the women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay team.


In the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Torres became the oldest swimmer to compete in the Olympics, and returned home with three silver medals. One of these silver medals was earned from the 50-meter freestyle event, where she was 1/100th of a second short of the gold medal. However, she was appreciated for her good-natured reaction to the results.


In 2012, at the age of forty-five, Torres came back to her swimming, but failed to make the Olympic team. Overall, Torres has swam in five Olympic Games and won twelve Olympic medals, making her tied with Jenny Thompson and Natalie Coughlin as the most decorated female American swimmer.


Torres’ impressive showing in Beijing and her attempt at participating in the 2012 Olympic Games has made her an important role model of comebacks in sports. She has inspired countless older athletes to think about re-entering competition, such as cyclist Lance Armstrong.


Perhaps this year in Rio, there will be another unexpected successful swimmer. Keep your eyes open!



Dara Dara+Torres+2012+Olympic+Swimming+Team+Trials+XmgV7A5hLHEl gal-daratorres-11-jpg

16-Year-Old Cassidy Bayer Dives into Olympic Training

High school sophomore and youngest member of the US National Team, Cassidy Bayer of Nation’s Capital Swim Club is preparing for her first-ever Olympic Trials.


Bayer was born in Northern Virginia in 1999, and had great success in swimming from an early age. She held National Age Group (NAG) records in the 11-12 100 and 200 meter fly, broke the NAG 13-14 200 fly record that stood for 34 years, and was the youngest swimmer to compete at the 2013 US World Championship Trials.


Bayer’s optimistic and enthusiastic attitude allows her to bounce back quickly and wholeheartedly from defeat. She had the opportunity to train with Ryan Lochte at the Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, and “there was not one dull moment in practice when I was swimming with her,” Lochte said.


Now, Bayer must physically and mentally prepare herself for Olympic Trials this summer in Omaha, Nebraska. Only the top two swimmers in each event advance to the Olympics, and she currently swims the fourth-fastest women’s 200 meter fly in the country. She definitely has the talent and determination to swim in the Olympics, and if not this year, then in 2020.


Bayer has several disadvantages in the pool. She is shorter than most swimmers, developed exercise-induced asthma, and is missing a muscle in her shoulder. These setbacks make her achievements even more impressive.


Bayer’s warm and positive personality, incredible talent, and ability to overcome many physical obstacles make her a perfect example of a woman who stands out in swimming!







cassidy-bayer-summer-nationals-2014-e1407686604687-720x500 IMG_9066

First Female Olympic Gold Medalist in Swimming

Hello swimming enthusiasts!


Happy Thanksgiving! Today I am back to feature Sarah (Fanny) Durack, the first woman ever to win a gold medal in swimming. Durack was born in 1889 in Sydney, Australia. She learned to swim at an early age in the Coogee Baths, an ocean tidal pool in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. In fact, the father of one of her good friends, Wilhelmina Wylie, owned the Baths, and he pushed the girls to train alongside the best male swimmers at the time.


When she was only eleven, Durack competed in the 100 yard breaststroke at the New South Wales Ladies Championships. In fact, breaststroke was the only style that women were allowed to compete in at the time. At the age of seventeen, Durack won her first State title. Although she got last place in the race (the older and already well-established Annette Kellerman won–you can read about her in one of my earlier blog posts!), she did not get discouraged, and, over the next few years, she became the best female swimmer in Australia.


Durack developed what is now known as the Australian crawl, a style quite different from the type of freestyle most popular in today’ swimming. Instead of a six-beat kick independent of how the arms are moving, Durack’s Australian crawl consisted of a two-beat kick that was coordinated with the arms. She would kick with one foot and stroke with the opposite arm, and then switch to the other leg and the opposite arm.


Organizations at the time such as the New South Wales Ladies’ Amateur Swimming Association prohibited women from participating in competitions where men were also present. However, Durack and Wylie had such success in the years leading up to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm that the public encouraged her to compete. This was the first year that an individual swimming event was offered for women, in the 100 meter freestyle. Durack swam the event in 1 minute 19.8 seconds, breaking the world record.


Between 1912 and 1918, Durack dominated the female swimming world, breaking twelve world records. Highlights included the 100 yard freestyle (1 minute 6 seconds), the 100 meter freestyle (1 minute 16.2 seconds), and the mile freestyle (26 minutes 8 seconds).


This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Fanny Durack’s hard work and determination to establish the prominence of women in swimming.








Mina Wylie left, Fanny Durack right
Mina Wylie (left) and Fanny Durack (right)


Spotlight: Janet Evans

Hello swimming enthusiasts!


I know it has been a while, but today I am back to highlight Janet Evans. What better way to showcase the power of women in swimming than a post dedicated to a woman whom many consider to be the best female swimmer of all time?


Janet Evans was born in Fullerton, California, and swam competitively from a very early age. At two years old, she was already swimming laps, and by three, she could swim at least half of an IM! Her first breakout performance was in 1987, when she was fifteen years old–she broke world records in the 400, 800, and 1500-meter freestyle events. The following year, she attended the Summer Olympics in Seoul, North Korea, winning three gold medals. By the end of her career, Evans had won four Olympic gold medals and seventeen international titles, and broken seven world records. Her 1500-meter freestyle record set in the 1988 Olympics stood for nineteen years, and she was the first woman to win Olympic and world championship titles in the same event in consecutive years.

Her small size, unorthodox windmill stroke, and seemingly endless supply of oxygen earned Evans even more attention. Evans came to be known as “Miss Perpetual Motion,” as she would take so many more strokes than her competitors in order to compensate for her small size. The windmill stroke, or straight-arm freestyle, is typically used in very short distances, because it can be so exhausting, as well as a strain on the shoulders. It must have taken so much energy for her to execute this type of freestyle in 400, 800, and 1500 meter swims! She is truly an inspiration for all of those smaller swimmers out there.

Today, Evans is still a major part of the swimming world. She is a motivational speaker, a commercial spokesperson, and even an author. Her book, “Janet Evans’ Total Swimming,” gives advice to swimmers both inside and outside of the pool. Janet Evans’ awe-inspiring impact on the swimming world clearly demonstrates the power of women in swimming.





www. sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/ev/janet-evans-1.html





001aa018ff9c0813a31042 Unknown

Annette Kellerman Makes History with the One-Piece Bathing Suit

Remembered as the ‘Diving Venus’ and the ‘Australian Mermaid,’ Annette Kellerman was truly a superstar. She was a writer, a film actress, a business owner, a record-breaking swimmer…the list goes on and on. But perhaps her most resounding triumph was her invention of a practical and freeing one-piece bathing costume for women! Kellerman was born in Marrickville, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, in 1886. From birth, she had very weak legs and even had to wear braces to help her walk when she was a child. Her parents brought her to a community pool in an attempt to strengthen her leg muscles, and soon it was clear that she was meant to be there! While still in school, Kellerman performed at numerous swimming and diving exhibitions, including swimming with fish at an aquarium. She soon held many female world records, such as 33 minutes and 49 seconds for the mile swim in 1902. In 1905, Kellerman became the first woman to attempt to swim the English Channel.

However, during this period of time, modesty was of the utmost importance. In fact, Sydney had a law against daylight bathing that wasn’t repealed until 1903! Swimsuits for women looked more like sack-like, flesh-covering dresses than a streamlined way to enter the water. When Kellerman fashioned a bare-armed, bare-legged, skin-tight bathing suit in 1907, you can imagine the reactions that she received! When she traveled to the United States the same year, she was arrested on a beach in Massachusetts. She had manufactured these suits herself (they were called Kellermans) and then sold them to the public. Despite the controversy that arose from her new aquatic trend, Annette Kellerman invoked a new excitement for swimming, not just for women, but for men and children as well. She liberated the public to swim in practical suits instead of inefficient dresses and jumpers. Kellerman made such a tendentious move that it bent the long-standing Victorian rules for everyone. The suits were also an important step in the fashion world, opening up a whole new market of swim attire.

I admire Annette Kellerman’s bold move in the world of swimming, and we should thank her the next time that we wear our streamlined, functional bathing suits to the pool!


Annette Kellerman fashioning the Kellerman suit
Annette Kellerman fashioning the Kellerman suit
Bathing costumes for women before Annette Kellerman
Bathing costumes for women before Annette Kellerman

A Tribute to Lia Neal

Hello swimming enthusiasts!

I am back today to highlight Lia Neal, who not only was the second African-American woman ever to compete with the United States Olympic swim team, but someone whom I especially look up to in the female swimming world. Ever since Neal was eight years old, she has been training with Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics in New York City, the same team that I have swam with for the past four years. I have always admired Lia Neal, and the new knowledge as an eleven-year-old that a member of my own team had won a bronze medal in a relay alongside Jessica Hardy, Missy Franklin, and Allison Schmitt invigorated me to keep swimming and set my goals high.

Lia Neal was born in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, in 1995, into a family consisting of Jerome, her father, Siu, her mother, and three older brothers. She is of both African-American and Chinese-American descent, and she can speak Cantonese and Mandarin in addition to English. From a very young age, Lia Neal loved the water, but she really began swimming when she was six years old, because her “friends were taking lessons and suggested [she] join them.” Two years later, other swim moms commented on her progress and suggested she try out for the team. She was a recipient of Asphalt Green’s Swim for the Future scholarship, which gives aspiring athletes with financial need a chance to excel in swimming. Even early on, Neal was already breaking age group records at Asphalt Green and in the Metropolitan LSC. In fact, she qualified for Olympic Trials in 2008 by breaking the 11-12 age group 100 meter freestyle record! One of Neal’s qualities that I particularly admire is her humility. After swimming to a fourth-place finish in the 100 meter freestyle finals in the 2012 Olympics, and earning her spot on the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay that same day, she claimed that her new title was “really cool.” The only African-American swimmer in her sport to ever represent the United States in the games before her was Maritza Correia, a silver medalist in the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay in 2004. “I never thought about me being the second one going into the race,” she explained, “but I guess that’s really a cool title to have.” But Lia Neal’s incredible achievements in swimming didn’t end there in 2012. Now, she will be a junior at Stanford, swimming two to three and a half hours every day, and up to 8,000 meters. Just this past March, Neal made history again in African-American swimming, at the Women’s Division 1 NCAA Championship. In the 100 meter freestyle finals, Simone Manuel of Stanford, Neal, and Natalie Hinds of University of Florida placed 1-2-3, the first time ever that three African-Americans were the top three finishes.

Clearly, Lia Neal is a model for women in swimming, African-Americans in swimming, and a more diverse sport overall. I wish her congratulations on all of her accomplishments, and I can’t wait to see what she will do next!


  • http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2012/07 olympic_swim_teams_second_black_woman.html
  • lianeal.com
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anna-ntiasare/an-interview-with-simone-manuel-and-lia-neal_b_6966726.html
  • http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/lia-neal-ready-to-start-stanford-in-the-fall-but-still-needs-her-trip-to-china/
  • http://classicsoulradio.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/black-swimmers.png
  • http://www.newyorkfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.jpg
  • http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/olympics/lia533.jpg
  • black-swimmerslia533 1

Chambers Becomes First Woman to Conquer Golden Gate Bridge Swim

Hello again!

Now happens to be a particularly busy time in the pool, as long course season and all of the championship meets have come to a close. At the Fina World Championships in Kazan, Russia,10-year-old Alzain Tareq from Bahrain became the youngest swimmer to ever compete, and Katie Ledecky became the first swimmer to win the 200 through 1500 freestyle at an international competition. But, on August 7th and 8th, while the world was busy watching Kazan and the national championships in San Antonio, Texas, 38 year old distance swimmer Kimberley Chambers braved the notorious 30 miles between Farallon Islands and the Golden Gate Bridge. She burst into tears as she reached her goal and the boat containing her mother and about 16 other crew members, the first woman following four men to accomplish the feat. Chambers described the difficulties of her journey, including the “living room of great white sharks,” the unpredictable weather, and her wave of sickness in the middle of the night when she couldn’t “keep any food down.” Since she needed to have food and water every 30 minutes in order to keep swimming, Chambers was worried that all of her hard work would be for nothing when she couldn’t eat. But both the crew on deck and fans like myself back home were rooting for her, and she swam through it.

Interestingly, Kimberley Chambers was not always a swimmer. The New Zealand-born, San Francisco resident was a former ballerina and rower before turning to distance swimming in 2009 to restore her leg after a life-threatening injury. She also became the sixth person to ever complete the Oceans Seven Challenge, a grueling seven-swim event spanning the Catalina Channel, the Moloka’i Channel, the North Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar, the English Channel, the Tsugaru Strait, and the Cook Strait. But after her 17-hour and 12-minute swim from Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge just a few days ago, Chambers, claimed that this was the “toughest swim in the world.” Personally, I am extremely impressed with her achievements. Chambers’ coach had attempted the swim the week before, and he needed to stop when a great white shark came near him! Imagine the bravery, determination, and self-confidence that fueled her to plunge into the same waters that had threatened her trainer. “I’m completely overwhelmed,” she said to CBS News. “This is something I’ve wanted for so long and I can’t believe I did it.” Congratulations to Kim Chambers for joining four other men who can say that they have endured the 30-mile shark-infested stretch to the Golden Gate Bridge! I believe that she is an amazing example of the power of women.

final-stroke-under-gg 1000w


Welcome to Women in Swimming!

Hello swimming enthusiasts!

My name is Betsey, and I am the creator of the Women in Swimming blog. I have been swimming competitively since I was seven years old, and it is something that I really enjoy. One of the reasons that I love swimming is because women get just as much attention as men. My goal with this blog is to bring to light incredible female swimmers of the past, present, and future, who are creating a platform (no pun intended) for women in sports. Every few weeks, I will be highlighting one of these females, and I encourage you to leave your comments about women in swimming! I am really excited about beginning my Women in Swimming blog, and I hope you are too. Stay tuned for more posts!