Nicole Haislett

Nicole Lee Haislett (born December 16, 1972) is an American former competitive swimmer who was a three-time Olympic gold medalist, a former world and American record-holder, and an eight-time American national college champion. During her international swimming career, Haislett won twenty-two medals in major international championships, including fourteen golds.

Nicole Haislett
Personal information
Full nameNicole Lee Haislett
National team United States
Born (1972-12-16) December 16, 1972
St. Petersburg, Florida
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight140 lb (64 kg)
StrokesFreestyle, individual medley
ClubSt. Pete Aquatics Club
College teamUniversity of Florida

Early years

Haislett was born in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1972.[1] She was a "water baby"—she learned to swim at 18 months old.[2][3] At the time, her parents merely wanted her to be comfortable in water, not intending that swimming would become her life focus.[3] She began to train with the St. Pete Aquatics Club at the age of 6.[4] Haislett attended Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, where she swam for the Lakewood Spartans high school swim team, winning four Florida high school state championships in two years.[2][5] As a 16-year-old high school junior, she won the 50-, 100- and 200-meter events at the U.S. Open Swimming Championships in 1989.[6] At the 1990 U.S. Short Course Swimming National Championships, she won the national title in the 200-yard freestyle.[7]

College swimming career

After graduating from high school, Haislett accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida,[4] where she swam for coach Mitch Ivey and coach Chris Martin's Florida Gators swimming and diving team in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition from 1991 to 1994.[8] As a Gator swimmer, she won NCAA national titles in the 200-yard freestyle for four consecutive years from 1991 to 1994, the 200-yard individual medley in 1993, and the 500-yard freestyle in 1994, and was a member of the Gators' NCAA-winning relay teams in the 4×100-yard freestyle in 1993 and the 4×100-yard medley relay in 1994.[8] She received twenty-eight All-American honors in four years—the maximum number possible.[2] In four years of swimming, she was undefeated in Southeastern Conference (SEC) competition,[4] and was recognized as the SEC Female Swimmer of the Year for four consecutive years from 1991 to 1994, and the SEC Female Athlete of the Year (all sports) in 1993 and 1994.[8] She was the 1993–94 recipient of the Honda Sports Award for Swimming and Diving, recognizing her as the outstanding college female swimmer of the year.[9]

International swimming career

Haislett was the first American woman to defeat a swimmer from East Germany in the 100-meter freestyle since the 1972 Summer Olympics; she did so at the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle, Washington.[10] At the 1991 World Aquatics Championships in Perth, Western Australia, Haislett won the 100-meter freestyle, and swam the anchor legs for the winning U.S. teams in the 4×100-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter medley relays, ending the East German women's eighteen years of overwhelming dominance in the 100-meter freestyle at the world championships.[4][11] Haislett also endured the emotional agony of disqualifying her team on an early exchange in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay – a relay race that the American women won in the water.[12]

Haislett qualified for four events at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. After finishing a disappointing fourth in the women's 100-meter freestyle,[2][13] Haislett won the 200-meter freestyle event with a time of 1:57.90 for her first Olympic gold medal.[14][15] Drafting off German swimmer Franziska Van Almsick, she swam what was described as a "perfect race."[15] She was a member of the winning U.S. team in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, together with Jenny Thompson, Dara Torres and Angel Martino, which set a new world record of 3:39.46 in the event final while winning the gold medal.[4][16] Haislett swam the freestyle leg in the preliminaries of the 4×100-meter medley relay to earn her third Olympic gold medal.[14]

Haislett was the first American woman to swim the 200-meter freestyle in under one minute, fifty-eight seconds (1:58), and held the American record until 2003, when it was broken by Lindsay Benko. After six months in residence at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, she announced her retirement from competition swimming in 1995, citing her prior success and waning motivation and competitive desire.[17][18]

Life after competition swimming

Haislett graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications in 1996, and served as an assistant coach for the Florida Gators women's swim team under head coach Kevin Thornton from 1996 to 1997.[4][19] Afterward, she studied to be a chef at the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida, and subsequently worked as the dining room manager and activities director at an assisted living community for seniors.[3][20] She was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 2004,[21][22] and the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.[20][23] Haislett and her ex-husband have a daughter, Blake, who was born in 2006.[24]

World record

Women's 4×100-meter freestyle relay

Time Date Event Location
3:39.46 July 28, 1992 1992 Summer Olympics Barcelona, Spain

Note: Record time and location are sourced to USA Swimming's list of world records.[25]

See also


  1. John Lohn, Historical Dictionary of Competitive Swimming, Scarecrow Press, Inc., Lanham, Maryland, p. 53 (2010). Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  2. Bob Chick, "Tampa Bay's All-Century Team: No. 5 Nicole Haislett," The Tampa Tribune (December 21, 1999). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  3. Joey Johnston, "Fame finds Nicole," The Tampa Tribune (May 20, 2005). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  4. Julian Pleasants, "Nicole Haislett," University of Florida Oral History Project, George A. Smathers Libraries, Gainesville, Florida (December 16, 1996). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  5. "NISCA All-American Showcase: Andy Coan, Nicole Haislett Among Best Ever in 100 Free," Swimming World Magazine (July 13, 2014). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  6. Cheryl Gordon, "Haislett's Showing In Open Comes As Surprise To Her," Orlando Sentinel (December 8, 1989). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  7. Sharon Robb, "Kremer Shoulders Burden, Gets A 2nd In 200 Free," Sun-Sentinel (March 22, 1990). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  8. Florida Swimming & Diving 2014–15 Media Supplement Archived February 18, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 82, 83, 86, 90, 92, 93, 97, 99 (2014). Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  9. Collegiate Women Sports Awards, Past Honda Sports Award Winners for Swimming & Diving. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  10. Associated Press, "Goodwill Games; 'Guest' Takes Early Gold," The New York Times (July 22, 1990). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  11. Sharon Robb, "UF's Haislett Earns Gold," Sun-Sentinel (January 8, 1991). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  12. Merrell Noden, "Splish, Splash, Splat! Lofty performances, and a costly blunder, marked the start of the worlds," Sports Illustrated (January 14, 1991). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  13. Gary Shelton, "Nicole is Golden Archived December 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine," The St. Petersburg Times (July 28, 1992). Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  14., Olympic Sports, Athletes, Nicole Haislett. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  15. Sharon Robb, "Haislett Swims 'Classic' Race; 200 Freestyle Gold Is First For U.S. Women Swimmers," Sun-Sentinel (July 28, 1992). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  16., Olympic Sports, United States Swimming at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Games. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  17. Julie Deardorff, "Swimmer Haislett Retires," Chicago Tribune (July 26, 1995). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  18. Ray Didinger, "Haislett Towels Off: '92 Olympic Swimming Champ Retires," The Philadelphia Inquirer (July 26, 1995). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  19. Mike Dame, "Thornton Steps Up Into Role As UF Women's Swim Coach," Orlando Sentinel (March 27, 1996). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  20. Dave Scheiber, "Fame takes a new form," The St. Petersburg Times (May 20, 2005). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  21. F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  22. "Florida Holds 2004 Hall of Fame Banquet," (February 13, 2004). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  23. Florida Sports Hall of Fame, Inductees 1960 to Present, Nicole Haislett (2005). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  24. Dave Scheiber, "Q & A with Nicole Haislett Bacher Archived October 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine," The St. Petersburg Times (July 20, 2008). Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  25. USASwimming, Women's Records. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
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