Amy Van Dyken is an Olympic champion swimmer with six gold medals to her name. At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, Amy became the first American female athlete in history to win four gold medals in a single Olympic games. She won gold in the 50 meter free, 100 meter butterfly, 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay, and the 4 x 100 meter medley relay. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Amy won two gold medals in the 4X100 Medley Relay and the 4X100 Freestyle Relay, and placed 4th in the 50 meter freestyle. In addition to her Olympic accomplishments, Amy won several world titles and set numerous American and world records.
Since retiring from swimming, Amy has made numerous appearances and speeches, worked in media as a sideline reporter and radio host and been involved with many charities. In June of 2014, Amy suffered a spinal cord injury in a near-fatal ATV accident which left her paralyzed from the waist down. She has been rehabbing ever since and is in remarkably good spirits. She is looking to get back out into the community working with corporations and speaking to groups about overcoming adversity and competing at a championship level in all walks of life. She is also lending a hand to worthwhile causes.
Following a doctor’s advice, Amy began swimming at the age of six in an effort to relieve childhood asthma. At eleven, she was still unable to swim the length of a pool. When she finely made it, Amy knew she had a strong "will to win." That strength made her a star in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta despite the fact that breathing difficulties limit her to only about 65% of normal lung capacity.
Amy’s success in swimming won her a wide variety of awards and accolades. An instant celebrity, she was featured on cover of a Wheaties box and underwater in a Milk Industry ad, photographed by Annie Liebowitz. Amy was named the Associated Press “Female Athlete of the Year”, USOC “Sports Woman of the Year”, ESPN “ESPY Female Athlete of the Year”, the Women’s Sports Foundation’s “Sports Woman of the Year” and USA Swimming’s “Swimmer of the Year”. She was also featured as one of Glamour magazine’s “Top 10 Women of the Year”, named one of “25 Most Influential Females in Sport” by Women’s Sports and Fitness magazine and received the ARETE “Courage in Sports” award.
Amy has graced the cover of several newspapers and magazines, including USA Today, Newsweek, Time, Swimming World magazine, and Sports Illustrated. Van Dyken was also a guest on Late Night with David Letterman, the Rosie O'Donnell Show and the Today Show.
Amy was the only American swimmer to be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame's Class of 2007. She was inducted to the Olympic Hall of Fame in July of 2008. Amy knows American Sign Language and is actively involved in a number of charities including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the United Way.
On behalf of the American Association for Respiratory Care, our Board of Directors and respiratory therapists in attendance at AARC Congress 2015, I cannot thank you enough for the absolutely incredible Closing Ceremony keynote address you delivered at our meeting last week in Tampa. Unlike many professional athletes who lack the communication skills to allow them to be successful in life after their careers are over, you have not only mastered that skill, but also possess the innate ability to engage people and connect with their emotions.