Rothhammer, Keena : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Rothhammer, Keena


Country Represented:
United States

Years Competed:

Medals Received:
gold, bronze

Olympic Info:
Rothhammer was a member of the United States swimming team at the 1972 Munich Olympic. She competed in three events and won two medals. In her first event, the 400-meter freestyle, she finished second in her preliminary heat (4:24.82) and advanced to the final, where she finished in sixth place in 4:24.22 (1.11 seconds behind the third place finisher). In the 200-meter freestyle, she broke the Olympic record in her preliminary heat, and then finished third in the final (2:04.92) to capture the bronze medal.

Rothhammer's greatest triumph at the Munich Games was in the 800-meter freestyle, the longest women's swimming race. During the competition, she broke the world record twice and captured the gold medal. In her semifinal heat, she finished in 8:59.69 and then demolished her own record the following day in the final with a time of 8:53.68. In the process, Rothhammer upset the favorite, Australian Shane Gould, and became the last American woman to win an Olympic gold in the 800-meter in a world record time.

Career Highlights:
Rothhammer was one of the top freestyle swimmers in the world in the early 1970s. Following her triumph at the Munich Games, she won the gold medal in the 200-meter freestyle (2:04.99) and the silver in the 400-meter (4:21.50) at the 1973 World Championships. That year, she was named the North American Athlete of the Year. During her career, Rothhammer set two world records, ten individual American records, and won 10 American national championships. In 1991, she was Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Birth and Death Dates:

Santa Clara, California

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New York Times, August 28-September 10, 1972