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Tracy Caulkins
Personal information
Full name Tracy Ann Caulkins-Stockwell
Nationality  United States
Stroke(s) Freestyle, IM, and Butterfly
Club Nashville Aquatic Club
College team Florida Gators
Date of birth January 11, 1963 (1963-01-11) (age 47)
Place of birth Winona, Minnesota (USA)
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)

Tracy Anne Caulkins Stockwell, OAM[1] (born January 11, 1963) is a 3-time Olympic gold medalist and former World Record holding swimmer from the United States. Her adeptness and abilities in all 4 swimming strokes has led to her being considered one of the greatest swimmers of all time.

Caulkins is perhaps best remembered for her adeptness at all four major competitive swimming strokes: the butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke, and freestyle. Caulkins won 48 national championships and set American Records in all four strokes over a range of distances as well as in the individual medley (IM) events, which combine all four strokes over the course of a single race. This versatility brought Caulkins many titles and awards, and as a result she is considered one of the greatest swimmers of all-time. By the time she retired from swimming, Caulkins had set 5 World Records and an incredible 63 American records (more than any other American swimmer, male or female).[2]


Early life

Caulkins was born in Winona, Minnesota, on the same day as Petra Schneider, the East German who would break the last of Caulkins' world records. Caulkins swam for the Nashville Aquatic Club (NAC), where she was coached by Paul Bergen.[3] Caulkins might be considered one the greatest female athletes to ever be from or live in Tennessee. She attended the all-girls Harpeth Hall School in Nashville and would go on to compete at the collegiate level for the University of Florida. Another notable NAC teammate, Joan Pennington, became a great swimmer at the University of Texas,[4] and like Caulkins won gold in Berlin in 1978 but was denied a chance to compete in the 1980 Olympic Games by the U.S. boycott.[5][6]

Into and after the 1980 Olympic boycott

In 1978 at the age of 15, Caulkins won the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award given by the Amateur Athletic Union: making her the youngest ever recipient of the award. Also that year, in perhaps her most impressive performance, she won five gold medals and a silver medal at the 1978 World Championships in West Berlin, West Germany.

Following her success at the '78 Worlds, and like many other American athletes, she was expected to put in a great performance at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, USSR. However, the USA eventually boycotted participating at the 1980 Games, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and then U.S. President President Jimmy Carter announcement that the United States would not be sending an Olympic team to the Games in protest to the invasion.

Fortunately, Caulkins was able to maintain her competitive level through the next four years. At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California, Caulkins won individual golds in the 200m individual medley and the 400m individual medley. She also won a relay gold by swimming the breaststroke on the women's 400m medley relay.

Post swimming career (post 1984)

Caulkins retired from the sport after the 1984 Games and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1990.[2]

She married Mark Stockwell, a swimmer from Australia and a fellow University of Florida alumnus, and has lived in Australia since shortly after the 1984 Olympic Games. They have four children, twins Maddison and William born in 1995, Emily born in 1999, and Annie born in 2003. At last report, they lived in Brisbane. Caulkins is involved with a series of physiotherapy clinics in Tennessee that bear her name.

On June 9, 2008, Caulkins (under her married name, Tracy Ann Stockwell) was recognized for "For service to sport as an administrator and proponent of sporting opportunities for women" with the Australian award of the Medal of the Order of Australia.[1]

Caulkins' ultimate legacy may be that of the best all-around swimmer in American history. While her career did not have the longevity of Jenny Thompson or the Olympic medal talleys of Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps, Caulkins is highly regarded in American swimming history.

The gold medals won by Caulkins are represented in stone on the walk of Tennessee history, which is located at the Bicentennial Mall State Park in Nashville. The pool at Nashville's Centennial Sportsplex is named after her, as well.


  1. ^ a b Tracy Anne Stockwell's entry from the Australian Honours list. Published 2008-06-09 Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  2. ^ a b Caulkins's bio page from the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  3. ^ "Straight Talke: A Chat with Coach Paul Bergen".  by Phil Whitten from Swimming Technique magazine, Jul-Sep 2004. Found via "Find Articles at". Retrieved 2008-04-25.
  4. ^ Pennington's entry from the Longhorn Hall of Honor. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  5. ^ "Docudharma: Boycott the Olympics? Here's a better idea". Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  6. ^ "Return of the Water Sprites".,9171,912129-1,00.html. Retrieved 2008-04-25.  from TIME. Published 1978-09-04.
Preceded by
East Germany Ulrike Tauber
Women's 200 metre individual medley
world record holder (long course)

August 2, 1978 – May 24, 1980
Succeeded by
East Germany Petra Schneider
Preceded by
East Germany Ulrike Tauber
Women's 400 metre individual medley
world record holder (long course)

August 23, 1978 – March 30, 1980
Succeeded by
East Germany Petra Schneider
Preceded by
East Germany Rosemarie Ackermann
United Press International
Athlete of the Year

Succeeded by
East Germany Marita Koch
Preceded by
Swimming World
American Swimmer of the Year

1980 – 1982
Succeeded by
Tiffany Cohen
Preceded by
Tiffany Cohen
Swimming World
American Swimmer of the Year

Succeeded by
Mary T. Meagher
Preceded by
John E. Frank
Beth Heiden
Terrell L. Hoage
Stefan G. Humphries
Steve Young
NCAA Top Five Award
Class of 1985
Gregg Carr
Tracy Caulkins
Doug Flutie
Mark J. Traynowicz
Susan E. Walsh
Succeeded by
Todays Top VI Award
James A. Dombrowski
Edward D. Eyestone
Timothy J. Green
Susan K. Harbour
Kathryn L. Hayes
Lauri A. Young


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