Six-Time Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer
Amy Van Dyken-Rouen is a 6-time Olympic champion. She won 4 medals in 1996 in Atlanta and two more in Sydney, Australia in 2000.
Olympic Gold Medals
Van Dyken-Rouen has the distinction of being one of the few Olympians whose medals are all gold. In 2007 she was the only American swimmer to be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s Class of 2007. She was also inducted to the Olympic Hall of Fame in July 2008.
After high school, Van Dyken-Rouen attended the University of Arizona for two years before transferring to Colorado State University, where she broke her first US 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. 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.
Following her 4 gold medals at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, she won the ESPY for Female Athlete of the Year; 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; and 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 graced the cover of several newspapers and magazines, including USA Today, Newsweek, Time, Swimming World magazine, and Sports Illustrated.
Van Dyken-Rouen is retired from swimming and lives with her husband, former NFL punter Tom Rouen, in Arizona. Since her retirement, Van Dyken-Rouen has been a public speaker, 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 even played in the award-winning stage-play the Vagina Monologues.
In June of 2014, she was injured in an ATV accident and severed her spinal cord leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.
THE WILL TO WIN: OVERCOMING THE "IMPOSSIBLE"
Since childhood, Amy Van Dyken’s mantra has been “Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot do?” A six-time Olympic gold medal winner, she was already a role model for underdogs everywhere with her debilitating asthma that had her dragged from the pool during several practices and her potentially career-ending shoulder surgeries that occurred between her first and second Olympics. But it was her life-threatening spinal cord injury in an ATV accident in 2014, that put her perseverance to the test. With little hope of surviving, and none that she would ever walk again, Amy did survive, and she did walk again. “I’m alive because I’m an athlete,” she said, following her accident. However, it was her “will to win” that saved her life. The same attitude that kept her motivated as she struggled to swim a single lap of the pool, set records, and win world championships, was the very same attitude required after the accident. In “The Will to Win,” Amy Van Dyken discusses the need for relentless motivation and overcoming the limits and restraints others put on you — whether it be a coach, a friend, an adversary, yourself, or even your own body. Van Dyken speaks plainly on both the physical and emotional obstacles that she has endured, as well as the emotional coming to terms with her new life and learning to embrace it.
REACHING FOR GOLD: FROM ASTHMA TO THE OLYMPICS & BEYOND
Olympian Amy Van Dyken has made a career out of beating the odds, both in and out of the pool. At 18 months old, she was diagnosed with three different kinds of asthma that left her with only 65% normal lung capacity. At the recommendation of her doctor, she joined a swim team and stayed at it for years, despite her inability to finish a single length of the pool and her debilitating asthma attacks. But in 1996, she made the Olympic team and won four Gold medals. The record-breaking swimmer then fought a shoulder injury and two operations to win a pair of gold medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. In 2014, Van Dyken-Rouen suffered an ATV accident that severed her spine and in need of surgery with only a 20% chance of survival. Even though the surgery was a success, Van Dyken was still paralyzed from the waist down. Her life-changing experience would leave many devastated and depressed. But Van Dyken, grateful for her second chance, decided to dedicate her new life to inspiring others to grasp every moment and to not complain; teaching that this life is a gift and every day should be met with an air of gratitude. In “Reaching for Gold,” Amy shares her personal story of overcoming adversity and keeping a good attitude no matter the odds, and inspires audiences to look past their limits and reach for their own version of gold.
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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.
- American Association for Respiratory Care | Douglas S. Laher, Associate Executive Director