- Tracy Caulkins
Caulkins is perhaps best remembered for her adeptness at all four major competitive swimming strokes; the butterfly,
breaststroke, backstroke, and freestyle. Caulkins won national championships and set American records in all four strokes over a range of distances as well as in the individual medley events, which combine all four strokes over the course of a single race. This versatility brought Caulkins many titles and awards, and as a result she is considered one of the greatest swimmers of all-time. By the time she retired from swimming, Caulkins had set five world recordsand an incredible 63 American records (more than any other American swimmer, male or female).
Born in Winona,
Minnesota, on the same day as Petra Schneider, the East German who would break the last of Caulkins' world records, Caulkins swam for the Nashville Aquatic Club (NAC), where she was coached by Paul Bergen.cite web |url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3871/is_/ai_n9418296 |title=STRAIGHT TALK: A CHAT WITH COACH PAUL BERGEN | Swimming Technique | Find Articles at BNET.com |format= |work= |accessdate=2008-04-25] Caulkins might be considered one the greatest female athletes to ever be from or live in Tennessee. She attended the all-girls Harpeth Hall Schoolin Nashville and would go on to compete at the collegiate level for the University of Florida. Another notable NAC teammate, Joan Pennington, became a great swimmer at University of Texas,cite web |url=http://www.texassports.com/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=58&change_well_id=17&member_id=342 |title=TexasSports.com |format= |work= |accessdate=2008-04-25] and like Caulkins was won gold in Berlin in 1978 but was denied a chance to compete in the 1980 Olympic Games by the U.S. boycott.cite web |url=http://www.docudharma.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=5897 |title=Docudharma:: Boycott the Olympics? Here's a better idea |format= |work= |accessdate=2008-04-25] cite web |url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,912129-1,00.html |title=Return of the Water Sprites - TIME |format= |work= |accessdate=2008-04-25]
In 1978, Caulkins won the prestigious
James E. Sullivan Awardgiven by the Amateur Athletic Union, and was the youngest ever winner of the award at the age of 15. In perhaps her most impressive performance, Tracy won five gold medals and a silver medalin Berlin, Germanyat the world championships. Like many other American athletes, she was expected to put in a great performance at the 1980 Summer Olympicsin Moscow, Russia(which was then the communistcontrolled Soviet Union). However, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States would not be sending an Olympic team to Moscow in protest to the invasion (see 1980 Olympic boycott). Caulkins was consequently not able to compete at the 1980 Olympics.
Fortunately, Caulkins was able to maintain her competitive level through the next four years. At the
1984 Summer Olympicsin Los Angeles, California, Caulkins won individual golds in the 200m individual medley and the 400m individual medley. She also won a relaygold by swimming the breaststroke on the women's 400m medley relay. Caulkins retired from the sport after the games and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Famein 1990.
Mark Stockwell, a swimmer from Australia. At last report, Caulkins lived in the Brisbane area with her husband and children. Caulkins is involved with (how?) a series of physiotherapyclinics in Tennessee that bear her name.
On 09 June 2008 Caulkins (Tracy Ann STOCKWELL) was recognised for "For service to sport as an administrator and proponent of sporting opportunities for women" with the Australian award of the "Medal of the Order of Australia" (http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au/honours/honour_roll/search.cfm?aus_award_id=1139014&search_type=advanced&showInd=true)
Caulkins' ultimate legacy may be that of the best all-around swimmer in American history. While her career did not have the longevity of
Jenny Thompsonor the Olympic medal talleys of Mark Spitzand Michael Phelps, Caulkins is highly rated in American swimming history.
The gold medals won by Caulkins are carved onto the walk of Tennessee history at the
Bicentennial Mall State Parkin Nashville.
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