Swimming Stars

Amanda Beard  - In 2003, Beard won her fifth U.S. National title, taking the 200m IM in a personal best at the CP Spring Nationals. She won the 200m breaststroke, tying the world record, and took home silver in the 100m breaststroke and 400m medley relay at the 2003 FINA World Championships.

She is a three-time All-Star team member and four-time National A Team member. She holds the U.S. record in 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke as well as 200m MR. Beard turned professional in 2001, giving up her remaining two years of college eligibility, and graduated from Arizona in 2003. She shares her passion for swimming with her two sisters.

Lindsay Benko - Benko broke the American record in the 200m freestyle leading off the 800m freestyle relay that won gold at the 2003 FINA World Championships. She also won gold in the 400m freestyle relay and a silver medal in the 400m medley relay.

Winning gold in the 200m freestyle and silver in the 200m backstroke at the 2000 Olympic Trials, Benko proved that she deserved to be there by winning gold at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney in the 800m freestyle relay. She holds the U.S. records for 200m, 400m and 800m free.

She suffered a broken kneecap that kept her out of the 2001 World Championships. In 2002, Benko broke the world record time in the 200m free and in 2003 for the 400m free. A Southern California graduate, she has a degree in communica-tions. Benko was inducted into the Indiana Swimming Hall of Fame at the 2003 Spring Nationals, going on to win her ninth U.S. National title that night.

Brooke Bennett - Bennett was introduced to swimming by her grandfather and flourished in the sport with a gold-medal performance at the 1995 Pan American Games. After winning gold in Atlanta , she renounced her future college eligibility.

Bennett followed her double gold-medal performance in Sydney with surgery to tighten both of her loose shoulders in November 2001. She placed fourth at the 2001 Summer Nationals, and while still recovering, Bennett placed sixth in the 400m and fifth in the 800m at the 2002 U.S. Open.

She was featured on the Wheaties cereal box, and she has her handprints in cement at the Disney/MGM Studios. Bennett has numerous pets and wants to be a veterinarian.

Natalie Coughlin -  Battling sickness, Coughlin helped Team USA to a gold in the 400m freestyle relay and a silver in the 400m medley relay at the 2003 FINA World Championships. She was named NCAA Swimmer of the Year in 2002 and 2003.

A University of California student, Coughlin became the first woman to swim the 100m backstroke in under a minute during her 2002 season. She holds the world record in 100m and 200m back, 100m fly and 100m IM. She walked away with gold in the 100m back and 800m free at the 2001 World Championships.

Coughlin was honored as the 2003 Women's Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year, 2002 USA Swimming Athlete of the Year and 2002 Swimming World Female World Swimmer of the Year.

A psychology major, she began swimming at the age of six.

Gary Hall Jr. -The son of Gary Sr. who was a three-time Olympian, Hall ranks third on the list of men with the most American swimming medals. He turned professional in 1994, renouncing his college eligibility.

He was diagnosed with diabetes in March 1999 and briefly considered retiring, but instead sold his car to earn money to go to the Olympic Trials. Since then he has been an active spokes-person for diabetes awareness. I

n 2000, he and his training partner, Anthony Ervin, both touched the wall in 21.98 in the 50m free, becoming the first male pair to ever tie for an Olympic gold medal.

Hall enjoys playing the guitar and is a member of the Gibson Guitar Company family. He also was the first paid endorser of Grateful Dead sunglasses. Hall restored a purple VW Microbus with a silver top that won first prize in bus/Type 2 at Bug-O-Rama XIX, and he was a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, winning $125,000, half of which he donated to the International Diabetic Athletes Association.

Aaron Peirsol -  Peirsol won gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke, both in Championships record time, and the 400m medley relay, breaking the world record in the relay, at the 2003 FINA World Champion-ships.

He holds the world record in 200m back and 400m MR as well as the American record in 200y back. At the Olympic Games in Sydney , Peirsol took home a silver medal in the 200m back. He was the youngest American to break two minutes in the 200m back at 15, which he did for the first time at the 1999 Spring Nationals.

Peirsol's younger sister, Hayley, is also on the National Team. The siblings competed at Worlds in 2003, both medaling on the same day; Aaron won gold in the 100m back while Hayley took silver in the 1500m free.

Michael Phelps - Phelps was named Swimmer of the Meet at the 2003 World Championships after winning six medals, including four golds, and breaking five world records. He is the only person to ever break five world records at one meet.

Phelps is the only man to win five U.S. National titles at the same championships and the only man to ever win a U.S. National title in three different strokes at one national championship. He was the youngest member of 2000 Olympic team at age 15 and youngest male Olympian since 1932.

When he was just 15, Phelps became the youngest man to break a world record, bettering the 200m fly mark at the 2001 Spring Nationals. He was the first person under one minute and 55 seconds in the 200m fly, a world record swim.

Jenny Thompson -  A three-time Olympian, Thompson won five medals, including two gold, at the 2003 FINA World Championships. She is the most decorated female Olympian of all time with 10 medals, including a record eight gold from her three Olympic appearances.

Named the 2000 Women's Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year, Thompson holds the world records in 400m MR, 100m free, 100m fly and 400m free. She was named one of the 'Greatest 100 Female Athletes' of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated.

In May 1994, she and a friend attempted to do a flip on a homemade water slide, but they landed awkwardly, breaking Thompson's left forearm. Determined not to lose her season, two weeks later Thompson won the 100m freestyle title at the U.S. Nationals -- just days after having a titanium plate and seven screws inserted in her arm.

A human biology graduate from Stanford, Thompson is attending medical school at Columbia University .

Ed Moses - Moses, a Virginia graduate, began 2004 by breaking his own world record in the 200m breaststroke at the fifth World Cup stop in Berlin . He won his 11 th U.S. National title, taking the 100m breast at the 2003 CP Summer Nationals.

He owns the fastest breaststroke relay split in history at under one minute, which was part of the world record-breaking 400m medley relay at the 2000 Olympic Games. He is currently serving as a consultant for the development of the next generation Speedo swimsuits that will be unveiled in Athens .

Moses sleeps in the basement of his parents' home in Burke in a tent that simulates the air at altitude. For someone who didn't start swimming year-round until his senior year in high school, Moses has certainly made a name for himself in USA Swimming.

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