4 Hometown Heroes Who Made an International Name for Themselves

Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel/USA Today Sports Images

By Michaela Morrison, Swimming World College Intern.

You know the names and stories of many international swimmers like Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky. The more we think about how great of an impact they have made in the sport of swimming, their feats almost seem impossible replicate.

Perhaps you are one of those swimmers who wants to make a name for yourself, but as the bar continues to be set higher and higher in each event, your efforts compared to the top of the top some seem minuscule.

The following are a stories of four hometown heroes who were once in your place. Through diligent work and seizing opportunities when they arose, these swimmers have competed at a level they never thought possible.

1. Libby Trickett

Libby Lenton Trickett smiles after competing in the heats of the women's 100m freestyle at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne March 17, 2006. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne - GM1DSEGRRAAA

Photo Courtesy: REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

An older story but still a great one, Australian swimmer Libby Trickett (previously Libby Lenton) was the favored freestyle sprinter heading into the 2004 Athens Olympics. The pressure of having to perform as the favorite overwhelmed her so much that she was often in tears and could not sleep.

Having buried herself under the pressure of the world, she failed to qualify for the final of the 2004 Athens Games. She watched her teammate Jodie Henry win gold in the 100 freestyle, after Henry had broken Trickett’s record in the semi-final.

Trickett was fired up by this defeat. She returned to training and developed aspects of her swimming that would be crucial to her success. She was focused on regaining the record at the Olympic Trials on her way to the 2008 Beijing Games. Her performance at the Trials was incredible, smashing the record with a 52.88.

2. Alia Atkinson

Jul 17, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Alia Atkinson of Jamaica celebrates after placing second in the women's 100m breaststroke final the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel/USA Today Sports Images

Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson became the first black woman to win a world swimming title. At the 2014 FINA World Swimming Championships, Atkinson out touched Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte by 0.10 seconds in the 100-meter Breaststroke. 

Atkinson was most proud of this accomplishment because she is heavily involved in the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s efforts to encourage greater participation of worldwide communities in swimming and to promote water safety.

3. Duncan Scott


Photo Courtesy: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Duncan Scott threw down an incredible swim in the 100-meter freestyle. Scott is Scotland’s most decorated swimmer, and his previous debuts at the Olympics and World Championships have come from relays.

This time, Scott was able to take a gold medal for himself. The field at the 2018 Games featured big names like South Africa’s Chad Le Clos and Australia’s Kyle Chalmers. Swimmers were neck and neck at the 50-meter mark, but Scott powered through the last 30-meters to gain a sizable lead.

Since then, Scott is working to train to qualify for individual events, amongst relays, for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

4. Mallory Comerford

katie ledecky, mallory comerford, 2017 ncaa championships

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Although she now is a more well-known swimmer, Mallory Comerford is still emerging as one of the next big household names. Before her performance at the 2017 Division I NCAA Championships, no one was really sure of who she was.

Comerford was brought into the spotlight after she tied five-time Olympic gold medalist Ledecky in the 200-yard freestyle.

Since then, she has competed in many National meets, making a name for herself on the international level. It will be a tough fight with such an amazing field, but perhaps Comerford will earn a spot on the 2020 Tokyo team to represent the United States.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Author: Michaela Morrison

Michaela Morrison is a rising junior at Denison University, majoring in global commerce with a minor in Spanish. She enjoys exploring new interests and engaging with those she meets.

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