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Janet Evans discusses swimming insights

Janet Evans is the author of Janet Evans’ Total Swimming.

Janet Evans, three-time Olympian and four-time individual Olympic gold medalist, is considered the greatest female distance swimmer of all time. By age 11, she was setting national age-group records, and in 1987 she set world records in the 400-, 800-, and 1,500-meter freestyle. At the 1988 Olympics, her first, she won gold medals in the 400- and 800-meter freestyle and the 400-meter individual medley. She captured gold again at the 1992 Olympics in the 800-meter freestyle and took silver in the 400-meter freestyle. After her 1988 performance, Evans continued to dominate the American and world distance scene. She became the first woman ever to win back-to-back Olympic and World Championship titles in any event, adding the 1991 and 1994 World titles to her Olympic golds in the 800-meter freestyle.

Evans was named the Female World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine in 1987, 1989, and 1990, and she won the Sullivan Award (top amateur athlete in the United States) in 1989. At the end of her career, she held six U.S. records, three world records, five Olympic medals (including four gold), and 45 U.S. national titles. She won the 400- and 800-meter free at the U.S. National Championships 12 times each, the most national titles in one event by any swimmer in the 100-year history of the event.

Evans’ Olympic career ended in 1996, when she was honored with the prestigious task of passing the Olympic torch to Muhammad Ali, who lit the cauldron. She still holds world records in the 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle, both of which are the longest-standing records in the sport. Her record in the 400-meter freestyle held for 18 years until it was broken in May 2006. Since her retirement, Evans has been a sought-after motivational speaker and corporate spokesperson for companies such as AT&T, Speedo, Campbell’s, PowerBar, John Hancock, Cadillac, and Xerox. Evans also conducts youth swim clinics and hosts the Janet Evans Invitational Swim Meet, which is now in its 14th year.