Today in Swimming History, September 19th: Janet Evans Begins Golden Run

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 12

September 19th, 2013 News, Video

This is the revival of an old series we used to run at The Swimmers’ Circle that on a daily, or nearly-daily, basis will look at a historic moment in history that happened on this day, as well as celebrate a few birthdays.

What better way to restart Today in Swimming History than with the 25 year anniversary of Janet Evans’ very first ever Olympic gold medal.

When I mentioned this to my partner Mel Stewart, who was at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he asked whether it was the 400 or the 800 free. This is probably a question that many people would ask.

Neither, though, would be the answer. The swimmer, famous for her distance exploits, won her first Olympic gold medal in the 400 IM with a time of 4:37.76 on September 19th, 1988 in Seoul, South Korea, topping Romania’s Noemi Lung and East Germany’s Daniela Hunger by almost two seconds.

She would go on to add golds in the 40o and 800 freestyles later in the meet, and in total finished her career with five Olympic medals.

Happy Birthdays:

  • Happy, very special, 35th birthday to Eric “the Eel” Moussambani. Moussambani is the man who famously received a Universality bid to swim the 100 free at the 2000 Olympics, and after the disqualification of his two opponents for false starts, actually won a heat at the Olympic Games. He swam a 1:52.72 – more than twice as slow of a time as was swum by Pieter van den Hoogenband’s 47.84 to take gold. Moussambani, by the time he retired, got his time down under a respectable 57 seconds by the time the 2004 Games came around, though a visa error prevented him from entering them. He is now the national swimming coach of his native Equatorial Guinea.
  • Happy 29th birthday to Argentine marathon swimmer Pilar Geijo, the winner of the 2010 and 2011 FINA Grand Prix series.
  • Happy 29th birthday to former Canadian Olympian Jenna Gresdal, who was a 6-time All-American at Arizona and swam at the 2000 Olympics at just 15 years old.
  • Happy 64th birthday to Ukrainian Tatyana Devyatova, who swam at the 1964 and 1968 Olympics, winning a bronze in ’64 in the 400 medley relay.
  • Happy 44th birthday to former Arizona State and Florida swimmer Troy Dalbey. He won gold medals at the 1988 Summer Olympics in the 400 and 800 free relays: both of which were World Records. He was infamously ejected from the U.S. Olympic Team after vandalizing a bar in post-gold celebrations in Korea.
  • Happy 21st birthday to Providence junior Justin Tse
  • Happy 25th birthday to former Cal swimmer Daniel Smith

There’s surely plenty of other swimmer birthdays to celebrate today. Leave them in the comments below, and we’ll celebrate them together.


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Eric the Eel got his time down to what? I’m pretty sure he wasn’t under 47 seconds…


he meant eric’s time was :57 point, not that he took off 57 seconds

in another note, technically hoogie did NOT swim 47.84 for the gold because he did that in semis. he won gold with a 48.30

cynthia curran

One of my strange thoughts, Orange County Ca has sent someone to the Olympics in Swimming from 1968 to 2012. So, Janet was in the heyday of OC swimming in the 1980’s.


Has anyone else ever gotten gold in the 400 Free/800 Free/400IM? (or 1500 free for men?) I doubt it. That’s quite a feat. I love watching her attack the water ferociously with that crazy freestyle stroke, even though she also lifts her head high out of the water like an age-grouper. But who am I to argue about aesthetics? It was one of the most amazing performances of all time!!


Liquidassets, Shane Gould also won the combo, albeit in the shorter distances: golds in 200/400 free and 200 IM (in addition to silver in 800 and bronze in 100). Interestingly, throughout the years, among female swimmers, there have been a number of middle/distance freestyler greats who also strike success in the IMs, or the other way around: many great IMers were also great in the 400/800 free: These are the great freestylers who have also won golds or silver in the IM events: – – Shane Gould (golds in 200/400 free and 200 IM), – Janet Evans (golds in 400/800 free and 400 IM), – Kornelia Ender (100/200 free, 100 fly golds and 200 IM silver, well maybe this should… Read more »


So the short answer to my question is no, then. Just to clarify, I meant at the same Olympics or Worlds, although it looks like nobody has even pulled it off even at separate ones, from the info I have so far. Given your long list of amazing swimmers who didn’t do it, ASwimFan, I wonder if the feat will ever be equalled. I remember being a little surprised that Evans herself pulled it off as she was a great 200 IMer in high school meets but hadn’t really swum a ton of 400 IM’s prior to that. Would be interesting if Ledecky branched out; I know she has a decent fly but not sure about her back and breast.


Correct, no swimmer male or female has ever equaled Evans’ 400/800 free and 400 IM wins in one olympics or worlds.


Or even in separate Olympics/worlds, from what you’ve reported.


And there is a reason why no male swimmer has ever attempted to do it and will not do it as long as the olympics schedule stays that way:
both 400 free and 400 IM are on the same day (first day).

And that’s why a swimmer like Kosuke Hagino or Thomas Fraser Holmes who are already very good in both events (likely finalists) will have to choose either 400 free or IM in 2016 Rio.

for women it’s not favorable either: 400 IM on the first day and 400 free on the second day, although one swimmer has been brave (or crazy) enough have attempted to do it: Mireia Belmonte

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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