Despite her small size and unorthodox swimming style, Janet Evans utterly dominated women’s long- distance swimming.
A natural talent
Janet Evans was a natural born swimmer who was swimming laps in the pool at the age of two. In 1987, aged just 15, Evans broke the world records in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle events. Her achievements were all the more remarkable given her small stature, slight build and unorthodox windmill stroke.
At the 1988 Seoul Games, Evans dominated every event she entered, winning the 400m individual medley, the 400m freestyle and the 800m freestyle. She broke her own world record in the 400m freestyle and finished almost three metres ahead of her nearest rival in the 800m freestyle.
Defending her titles
Evans entered the 1992 Barcelona Games on a six-year winning streak at 400m. However, she was caught in the last laps and beaten into second place by just 30 centimetres. Two days later, Evans made amends in the 800m, leading from start to finish and winning by eight metres to defend her title.
Between 1986 and 1995, Janet Evans won 25 out of 27 major international races at 400m and 22 out of 23 at 800m. Her world record for the 800m freestyle lasted through four Olympic Games until it was finally broken at the 2008 Beijing Games.