Jenny Thompson

Jennifer Beth Thompson (born February 26, 1973) is an American former competition swimmer and anesthesiologist.

Jenny Thompson
Personal information
Full nameJennifer Beth Thompson
National team United States
Born (1973-02-26) February 26, 1973
Danvers, Massachusetts, U.S.
Height5 ft 9 12 in (177 cm)[1]
Weight152 lb (69 kg)[1]
StrokesButterfly, freestyle
ClubSeacoast Swimming Association, Stanford, Badger Swim Club
College teamStanford University

She is one of the most decorated Olympians in history: twelve medals, including eight gold medals, in the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 Summer Olympics.

Thompson, a Massachusetts native who calls Dover, New Hampshire her hometown, began swimming at age 7 at a summer country club called Cedardale in Groveland, Massachusetts. During the indoor season, she swam at the Danvers YMCA from ages 8 to 10, and then at the Andover-North Andover YMCA from the ages of 10 to 12. At age 12 she began swimming for Seacoast Swimming Association under coaches Amy and Mike Parratto, and moved to Dover at age 13.

She first appeared on the international scene as a 14-year-old in 1987, when she won the 50-meter freestyle and placed third in the 100-meter freestyle at the Pan American Games. She won her first world championship in 1991, as part of the USA's winning 4×100-meter freestyle relay team, and held the world record in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle when she participated in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Thompson attended Stanford University, and swam for the Stanford Cardinal swimming and diving team in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Pacific-10 Conference competition. She was the recipient of the 1994–95 Honda Sports Award for Swimming and Diving, recognizing her as the outstanding college female swimmer of the year.[2]

In 2006, Thompson received a medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, completed a residency in anesthesiology at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and then a fellowship in pediatric anesthesiology at Children's Hospital of Boston.[3]

World competitions and records

1992 Olympics

Thought to be at the height of her competitive career at the time, Thompson was expected to win up to five gold medals at those Olympics. However, she failed to qualify for the final in the 200-meter freestyle, finished a disappointing fifth in the 50-meter, and finished second in the 100-meter, where she was beaten by Zhuang Yong of China. Thompson won two gold medals as part of the 4×100-meter freestyle and 4×100-meter medley teams. Considerable controversy was raised after the 100-meter freestyle when the U.S. team speculated on the loose doping policy standards in Barcelona—at that time the event winner did not have a mandatory doping test—only the second and fourth-place finishers were tested, based on a random draw. Thompson and her teammates believed that the Olympic champion should be tested and that rule was changed a few months later when nine members of the Chinese swimming team tested positive for steroid use.

University years

Thompson continued her career as a member of the U.S. national team and a member of the Stanford University swimming team, and continued to rank among the world's best swimmers for the next four years. During Thompson's four years at Stanford, she was a member of four NCAA championship teams, considered to be some of the most dominant collegiate teams in NCAA history. During that time, Thompson amassed nineteen individual and relay NCAA titles. However, a poor performance at the 1996 Olympic Trials kept her from competing in any individual event at that year's Games in Atlanta. Despite this, she competed in three gold-medal winning relay teams at the Olympics; the 4×100-meter freestyle, 4×100-meter medley, and 4×200-meter freestyle. She competed as a member of the USA Finswimming Team at the 8th World Championship held in Hungary during August 1996.[4]

Between 1997 and 1999, Thompson won eight more world championship titles, including three in a row in the 100-meter freestyle. At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia she won a bronze in the 100-meter freestyle and was fifth in the 100-meter butterfly. But in the relay events, she swam the anchor leg in helping the USA defend its titles in the 4×100-meter freestyle and the 4×200-meter freestyle relays. She also swam the butterfly leg in the winning 4×100-meter relays. The 4×100-meter freestyle and medley teams set new world records in the process.

At the World Championships that year, she broke the world record in the 100-meter butterfly for the fourth time, winning a qualifying heat in a time of 56.56 en route to a gold medal in the event.

2000 through 2004

Thompson seemingly retired from competition after the 2000 season with 10 Olympic medals, eight gold, one silver and one bronze, and 12 gold medals at World Championships. In 2001, Thompson moved to New York City to begin studying at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. However, while attending medical school, she made a return to competition at the 2002 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Yokohama, Japan. Thompson won five medals in two days, setting a career-best time in winning the 50-meter freestyle. At the 2003 World Championships, she would win five medals, including two gold medals.

At age 31, Thompson was the oldest member of the 2004 U.S. Swimming and Diving team, competing in her fourth Olympics in Athens, Greece. She was the anchor member of the 400-meter freestyle relay, where she contributed to a national record of 3:36.39 and a silver medal. She earned another silver medal as a member of the 4×100-meter medley relay. During her Olympic career, Thompson won twelve medals, eight of which were relay gold; the most for any female Olympic swimmer in history.[5]

Recent life and work

In 2006, Thompson received a medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She did her internship at the New York City Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and residency anesthesiologist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.[3] In June 2010 she was assaulted when two men attempted to steal her scooter, however she was able to fight off both of her attackers.[6][7]

Thompson married Daniel Richard Cumpelik on September 5, 2010.[8] She currently works as an anesthesiologist for the Spectrum medical group at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.

Thompson has volunteered as a celebrity swimmer for Swim Across America, a charitable organization that raises money for cancer research, since 1995.

Accolades and other recognition

She was the 1993 and 1998 USA Swimming Swimmer of the Year, and ranked as the 62nd greatest female athlete of all time in a 1999 poll conducted by Sports Illustrated. She was named by Swimming World Magazine as the Female World Swimmer of the Year in 1998, and as Female American Swimmer of the Year in 1993, 1998 and 1999. She was the Women's Sports Foundation's Athlete of the Year in 2000.

Her adopted hometown of Dover, New Hampshire has a public swimming pool named in her honor.

See also


  1. "Jenny Thompson". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  2. Collegiate Women Sports Awards, Past Honda Sports Award Winners for Swimming & Diving. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  3. Shinzawa, Fluto (June 15, 2006). "Thompson has new calling" (subscription required). The Boston Globe. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  4. Howley, Elaine K. (January 7, 2014). "MonoMermaid The Olympic champion's other breathless aquatic adventures". United States Masters Swimming, Inc. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  5. Kubatko, Justin. "Jenny Thompson". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  6. Town, Your (June 30, 2010). "Olympian allegedly assaulted in Brookline". The Boston Globe.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 3, 2010. Retrieved July 1, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. Schwartz, Paula (September 3, 2010). "Jenny Thompson, Daniel Cumpelik". The New York Times. Retrieved July 5, 2011.

Preceded by

Kristin Otto
Women's 100-meter freestyle
world record-holder (long course)

March 1, 1992 – September 5, 1994
Succeeded by

Jingyi Le
Preceded by

Ayari Aoyama
Women's 100-meter butterfly
world record-holder (short course)

April 19, 1997 – January 26, 2002
Succeeded by

Martina Moravcová
Preceded by

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

November 29, 1997 – December 10, 1999
Succeeded by

Anna-Karin Kammerling
Preceded by

Martina Moravcová
Martina Moravcová
Women's 100-meter individual medley
world record-holder (short course)

January 16, 1999 – April 2, 1999
April 2, 1999 – November 23, 2002
Succeeded by

Martina Moravcová
Natalie Coughlin
Preceded by

Mary T. Meagher
Women's 100-meter butterfly
world record-holder (long course)

August 23, 1999 – May 27, 2000
Succeeded by

Inge de Bruijn
Awards and achievements
Preceded by

Claudia Poll
Swimming World
World Swimmer of the Year

Succeeded by

Penny Heyns
Preceded by

Summer Sanders
Kristine Quance
Swimming World
American Swimmer of the Year

Succeeded by

Allison Wagner
Brooke Bennett
Olympic Games
Preceded by
Carl Osburn
Most career Olympic medals
by an American

Succeeded by
Michael Phelps
Preceded by
Mark Spitz
Preceded by
Matt Biondi
Preceded by
Shirley Babashoff
Most career Olympic medals
by an American woman

2000 – current

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