Inge de Bruijn is the most successful athlete of all time in Dutch sports history.
During the three Olympics she competed in, she won four gold, two silver and two bronze medals in the sprint freestyle and butterfly events. She joins Debbie Meyer (1968), Shane Gould (1972), Janet Evans (1988), Kristin Otto (1988) and Krisztina Egerszegi (1992) as the only female swimmers to win three gold medals in individual events at one Olympic Games, doing so in 2000.
Although de Bruijn competed at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics finishing 8th in the 100m freestyle, it wasn’t until 1999 that she won the European Championships 50m freestyle gold medal and started setting world records eleven by the time she retired.
She fell into a slump during the 1996 Olympic year and failed to qualify for the Games. She then connected with Hall of Fame coach Paul Bergen in Portland, Oregon, and began training under his guidance. Four years later at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she won the 50m and 100m freestyles and the 100m butterfly, setting world records in all three events. With a silver medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay, her nickname became “Invincible Inky.”
In 2000 and 2001, she was named World Female Swimmer of the Year. At the 2001 and 2003 World Championships, she set world records in both the 50m and 100m freestyle and the 50m and 100m butterfly. In total, she won eight Olympic medals, seven World Championship medals and 26 Dutch National Championships.