#30MostSwimfluential: Carol Zaleski

11 Mar 1996: Carol Zaleski looks on during the United States Olympic Team trials at the Indiana University Natatorium in Bloomington, Indiana. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Stockman /Allsport
Photo Courtesy: Matthew Stockman

Who is Carol Zaleski?

  • Competition judge, referee and starter since 1978
  • Develops and trains swimming officials both nationally and internationally
  • President of USA Swimming for an unprecedented four terms (1986-1988, 1988-1990, 1994-1996, 1996-1998)
  • Helped create the USA Swimming National Officials Training Program and brought a similar program to FINA
  • Chair of the technical swimming committee for FINA from 1992-2005
  • Oversaw officials at six Olympic Games
  • Member of USA Swimming’s Board of Directors
  • Helped form both the US Sports Insurance Company (USSIC)
  • Creator of the Athlete Assistance Program in 1987, helping post-collegiate athletes prolong their careers with an endowment
  • Directed the creation of the International Center for Aquatic Research at the Olympic Training Center in 1988
  • First female deck referee for Olympic Swimming at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing
  • Recipient of the 1992 United States Swimming Award for Exceptional Contribution to the Sport of Swimming
  • Winner of the 2009 International Swimming Hall of Fame’s Paragon Award
  • Presented with the U.S. Olympic Foundation’s highest honor, the George Steinbrenner Sport Leadership Award, in 2009

How has she influenced the swimming community?

Carol Zaleski began her iconic career as a parent forced into timing at her children’s swim meet. From there, she has worked tirelessly to become one of the powerhouses behind national and international swimming events. Zaleski is a pioneer for women in her field, standing out in a crowd of older male officials on deck. Her contribution to create programs to improve the sport has helped countless athletes, such as the elite swimmers who can now afford to continue their training because of the Athlete Assistance Program. Zaleski’s love for swimming and its athletes will continue to inspire and motivate the community well beyond her own service.

*USA Swimming and Speedo invited the swimming community to help celebrate their 30 years of partnership by voting for the “30 Most Influential People in Swimming Over the Past 30 Years.” Votes were cast through social media with the hashtag #30MostSwimfluential and the final vote came from a panel of 10 judges selected by USA Swimming and Speedo. All 30 nominees have had a powerful impact on the swimming community. Many are recognizable names, but some have remained unsung heroes of the sport. Swimming World will profile each swimfluential person over the course of the week.

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