Amy Van Dyken

Amy Deloris Van Dyken-Rouen (born February 15, 1973) is an American former competitive swimmer, Olympic champion, former world record-holder, and national radio sports talk show co-host. She won six Olympic gold medals in her career, four of which she won at the 1996 Summer Olympics, making her the first American woman to accomplish such a feat and the most successful athlete at the 1996 Summer Olympics. She won gold in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 4×100-meter freestyle relay, and 4×100-meter medley relay.

Amy Van Dyken
Van Dyken in 2017
Personal information
Full nameAmy Deloris Van Dyken-Rouen[1]
National team United States
Born (1973-02-15) February 15, 1973
Denver, Colorado
Height6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight163 lb (74 kg)
StrokesButterfly, freestyle
College teamUniversity of Arizona
Colorado State University
CoachJonty Skinner and John Mattos

Van Dyken suffered from severe asthma throughout her childhood and into adulthood. She began swimming on the advice of a doctor as a way to strengthen her lungs to cope with her condition and prevent future asthma attacks.

She was named Swimming World's American Swimmer of the Year in 1995 and 1996.

On June 6, 2014, Van Dyken was injured in a severe ATV accident that severed her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

Early life

At the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials, Van Dyken placed 4th in the 50-meter freestyle, just missing the Olympic team. After high school, Van Dyken attended the University of Arizona for two years before transferring to Colorado State University, where she broke her first (of many more to come) United States record with a time of 21.77 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle at the NCAA championships in 1994. She also placed second in the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard freestyle to Olympian Jenny Thompson. In 1994 she was named the NCAA Female Swimmer of the Year. After college, she moved to the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to train full-time for the 1996 Olympics.

Olympic competition

1996 Summer Olympics

At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, Van Dyken became the first American female athlete in to win 4 gold medals in a single Olympic games. Her success in swimming won her a wide variety of awards and accolades, including: the ESPN Awards (ESPY) Female Athlete of the Year award; Swimming World magazine's female Swimmer of the Year award; induction into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame; induction into the US Olympic Hall of Fame;[2] named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, USOC Sports Woman of the Year, the Women's Sports Foundation Sports Woman of the Year and USA Swimming 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. She has appeared on the cover of several newspapers and magazines, including USA Today, Newsweek, Time, Swimming World magazine, and Sports Illustrated. Van Dyken was a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, and the Today Show. She was featured in a milk ad with a photograph taken by world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, and she was honored with her own Wheaties box.

2000 Summer Olympics

Van Dyken continued to compete after the 1996 Olympics, but was plagued by injury, including a shoulder injury which required several operations and which left her unable to train for over a year. She staged a comeback, however, and made the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team in the 50-meter freestyle, the 4×100 medley relay and the 4×100 freestyle relay. At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Van Dyken won two gold medals in these latter two events, and placed 4th in the 50-meter freestyle. This brought her total career Olympic medal count to six gold medals. In addition to her Olympic accomplishments, Van Dyken won several world titles and set numerous American and world records.

Van Dyken has the distinction of being one of the few Olympians whose medals are all gold.


Van Dyken lost public support when she spat in the lane of rival Inge de Bruijn at the 2000 Summer Olympics. After losing to de Bruijn, Van Dyken responded by saying she, too, could have won a gold medal "if I were a man."[3]

Performance Enhancing Drugs

In 2003, Van Dyken was called to testify before a grand jury regarding the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) steroid scandal.[4] While Van Dyken was a regular client at BALCO,[5] she has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Life after swimming

Van Dyken retired from swimming after the 2000 Olympics and married former NFL punter Tom Rouen not long after. They split their time between Colorado and Arizona.

Since her retirement, Van Dyken has toured on a number of speaking engagements to groups as varied as schools and multi-national corporations, has been a disc jockey on a sports radio show in Arizona, served as the side-line reporter for the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos football teams, and acted in the award-winning stage-play the Vagina Monologues. She is actively involved in a number of charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and along with husband Rouen runs an annual celebrity fundraiser in Evergreen, Colorado, to raise money for disadvantaged youth. She was the head coach of the varsity swim team at Notre Dame Preparatory High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. On May 12, she was the only American swimmer to be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame's Class of 2007. She was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in July 2008. She became the morning co-host at the #1 Ranked Mix 96.9 KMXP-FM in Phoenix, Arizona in July 2008 where she joined host Chris Parker. Eventually she and Parker moved over to rival KPKX-FM where she was morning drive-time host on 98.7 The Peak FM as a part of "Chris and Amy in the Morning" from 2010 to 2011. She resigned from 98.7 The Peak FM on July 12, 2011, to "attend to some family issues that are going to take her back to Denver."[6] She was the co-host of Fox Sports Radio's Fox Sports Tonight with Rob Dibble[7] until December 2013.[8]

ATV accident

On June 6, 2014, Van Dyken was in a severe ATV accident and severed her spinal cord at the T11 vertebra. She was conscious when rescued and airlifted to a hospital where she had emergency surgery to stabilize her spinal cord and vertebral column. Following the initial surgical measures, she was in satisfactory condition. The injury to the area came within millimeters of impacting and potentially rupturing her aorta. However, the accident did leave her paralyzed from the waist down.[9] After two months of rehabilitation, Van Dyken left Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, saying, "I'm a better person than before the injury,"[10] and took her first steps.[11]

See also


  1. Jhabvala, Nicki (May 2015). "DEFYING THE ODDS How Greg Roskopf, an Englewood-based muscle function specialist, is helping Amy Van Dyken-Rouen get back on her feet – literally". Denver Post. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  2. "Amy Van Dyken elected to Olympic HOF". CBS Sports. April 16, 2008. Archived from the original on June 22, 2015.
  3. "FLASH! Amy Van Dyken Linked to THG Drug Probe". Swimming World Magazine. November 27, 2003. Archived from the original on February 13, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
  4. "BALCO investigation timeline". USA Today. November 27, 2007. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
  5. Nightengale, Bob (July 8, 2007). "After BALCO, Conte still in the supplement game". USA Today. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
  6. "W just announced..." Chris and Amy in the Morning Facebook page. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  7. "About Fox Sports Tonight". Fox Sports Radio. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
  8. "Fox Sports Radio 2014 Lineup Released". All Access. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  9. Marshall, John (June 9, 2014). "Olympic star Van Dyken severs spinal cord in crash". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  10. "Amy Van Dyken-Rouen discharged from Craig Hospital". August 14, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  11. "Paralyzed swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen takes first steps since accident". USA Today. August 21, 2014. Retrieved August 21, 2014.

Preceded by

Women's 50-meter butterfly
world record holder (short course)

February 1, 1995 – February 12, 1995
Succeeded by

Angela Kennedy
Preceded by
Allison Wagner
Swimming World
American Swimmer of the Year

Succeeded by
Kristine Quance

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