Swimmer Is Unique Honoree in National High School Hall of Fame

PHOENIX, Ariz., November 20. SWIMMER Debbie Meyer, was so good she is being recognized in the National High School Hall of Fame despite the fact she didn’t even compete for her high school!

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA), has named Ms. Meyer, a triple gold medalist from 1968 Mexico City (200-400-800 freestyles), among the 2004 honorees (only swimmer) for NFSHSA’s National High School Hall of Fame.

The attached biographical blurb for from the NHSHOF, notes that Debbie's high school (Rio Americano; Sacramento, CA) did not have a swim team for girls at the time, but Debbie was still honored by her school as 1970’s outstanding female athlete! Sometimes an obvious fact can’t be avoided, even if you have to think outside the box a bit to recognize it.

All you swimmers who think you train too hard today, catch the note about covering 30,000 miles in the seven years before Mexico City (40 years ago). Do the math.

Congratulations on adding another Hall of Fame to your list, Debbie.


Debbie Meyer is considered one of the top female swimmers in U.S. history as a result of her incredible performances as a high school student at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. At the age of 16, Meyer was the first swimmer to win three individual gold medals in Olympic history, winning the 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle races. Perhaps even more incredibly, Meyer won two gold medals in the 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle races as a 14-year-old at the 1967 Pan American Games.

From 1967 to 1971, Meyer broke 20 world records and 24 American records, and she won 19 national championships. At one point, she held five world freestyle records simultaneously; 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters, 880 yards and 1,500 meters.

In addition to being the first to win three individual gold medals, Meyer earned several other "firsts." She was the first female to swim 1500 meters under 18 minutes, the first to swim 400 meters under 4:30, the first to swim 500 yards under five minutes and the first to swim 1650 yards under 17 minutes.

In seven years prior to winning Olympic gold in Mexico City, Meyer swam approximately 30,000 miles in training.

Meyer's honors are numerous, topped by being named winner of the Sullivan Award by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in 1968. She was named "Swimmer of the Year" by Swimming World three times, received the 1969 Associated Press athlete of the year, and the 1967 TASS News Agency Award and Cuba News Agency Award, both for being the world's best athlete.

She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1977 and is also a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, College Swimming Hall of Fame and the Women's International Sports Hall of Fame.

Though no organized athletics existed for women at that time, Meyer was chosen the top female athlete at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, California, in 1970.

She retired from competitive swimming in 1972 and attended American River Junior College and UCLA after high school. She has held a number of coaching positions, including assistant swim coach at Stanford University (1976-77), assistant swim coach at the University of California, Berkeley (1980-81) and men's and women's swim coach at California State University, Sacramento (1987-92).

She currently owns and operates the Debbie Meyer Swim School in Sacramento.

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