Kara Lynn Joyce
Kara Lynn Joyce is a former American sprint freestyle specialist born October 25, 1985. Originally from Brooklyn, New York Joyce, also known by her married name Kara Lynn Williamson, is a three-time Olympian and four-time Olympic silver medalist and one of only seven women to swim for three Olympic Teams. Joyce is famously known for her appearance in Touch the Wall featuring Missy Franklin as the two geared up for the London Olympics.
Early swimming career
Joyce began swimming at 5 years old after being raised in a swimming family – her mother, Kathy, was the local swim coach, and her older brothers both swam for Eastern Michigan University. She grew up in New York for the majority of her years attending Irondequoit, New York at Eastridge High School, but moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan after the family relocated. She then began training with Club Wolverine, and started her senior year swimming for the Ann Arbor Pioneers, where she set five school records, four of which were National High School Records.
University of Georgia
After graduating from high school Joyce committed to the University of Georgia to swim under Jack Bauerle. In her first year at Georgia Joyce won five NCAA titles, including individual titles in the 50 and 100-yard free events in addition to freestyle events — she helped Georgia finish runner-up for the third year in a row. As a sophomore Joyce won back-to-back individual titles in the 50 and 100-yard free, and picked up a 4th-place finish in the 200-yard free, to help Georgia win its first national championship in four years and the first team in history to win all five relays.
In 2006, the NCAA Championships were held at Georgia. Georgia finished 2nd as a team, but Joyce picked up five more national titles and won the coveted NCAA Swimmer of the Year. On day 1 she broke the American Record in the 50-yard free, and won both the 100 and 200 yard distances — she became the first women to sweep the 50, 100 and 200 free. As a senior Joyce earned the Honda Sports Award for Swimming and Diving.
2004 Athens Olympics
In the beginning of her Georgia career, Joyce had a dominant U.S. Olympic Trials meet in 2004. She won the 50-meter free, finished 2nd in the 100-meter free and just missed a relay spot by finishing 7th in the 200-meter free. In Athens, she finished 5th in both of her individual freestyle events, but won an Olympic silver medal in the 400-meter free relay and the 400-meter medley relay.
2005-2007 World Championships
After her first Olympic Games Joyce focused on the World Championships leading up to the next Games. She made the 2005 World Championships roster, swimming her primary events. Joyce finished 7th in the 50-meter free, and picked up a bronze medal as a member of the 4×100 free relay. In 2007 she once again made the World Championship time, but this time won gold. Joyce finished 5th in the 50-meter free, picked up a silver on the 4×100 free relay, which set an American Record, and her gold medal came in the 800 free relay.
2008 Beijing Olympics
Joyce competed at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, but this time only qualified individually in the 50-meter free, and had a couple relay events as well. She finished 6th in the 50-meter free, but won two more Olympic silver medals 400 meter free relay and the 400 meter medley relay.
After Beijing, Joyce didn’t make a big splash until a couple years after in 2010. Joyce won the 50 free national title 2010 CP National Championships, and followed her win up a year later at the 2011 ConocoPhillips National Championships. Here she finished 3rd in the 50-meter free and 5th in the 100.
Touch the Wall
Gearing up for both the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 London Olympics, Joyce moved to Colorado to begin training with Missy Franklin and the Colorado Stars. The movie followed the two amazing athletes, and documented Joyce’s battle to qualify for her third Olympic team.
2012 London Olympics
At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Joyce focused on her signature event, the 50-meter free. Swimming no other race, Joyce finished 2nd in the event, providing her third birth on a U.S. Olympic Team. In London, Joyce had a three-way tie for 16th in the preliminary heats, forcing her into a swim-off. British swimmer Amy Smith had the home crowd behind her though though, and won, ending Joyce’s Olympic participance.
Even after London, Joyce debated whether it was time to retire. A year later, after watching the World Championships Trials, Joyce called it quits. After marrying Casey Williamson, Joyce currently gives back to the sport through working with clinics and private lessons.