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Amy Van Dyken

Category: Olympians, Women in Sports
Fee Range: $10,000 – $20,000

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Biography:

At the recommendation of her doctor, Olympic athlete and Sports Speaker Amy Van Dyken originally began swimming to help manage the severe asthma she coped with throughout childhood. However, it turns out that her doctor’s advice became a career changing decision at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, in which Van Dyken made history and became the first female athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympic games. In Atlanta, Van Dyken placed first in the 100m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley relay, and 50m freestyle, in which she also broke a world record. With her impressive 1996 Olympic performance to show for, Van Dyken received a wide range of honors from the ESPY award for Female Athlete of the Year to USA Swimming Swimmer of the Year. She became a household name among adults and adolescents alike, being identified in Glamour magazine’s Top Ten Women of the Year, and gracing the covers of magazines such as Time and Sports Illustrated. Prior to the 1996 Olympics, she also won two silver medals and one bronze medal at the FINA World Championships in 1994, a precursor of what to expect from her upcoming years.

Refusing to allow the spotlight to faze her, Van Dyken swam in the 1998 FINA World Championships, placing first in three different events. After qualifying for the 2000 Sydney Olympics two years later, Van Dyken managed to successfully compete despite injury setbacks during her training. As she continued strive for the gold, Van Dyken placed first in the 4x100m medley relay, as well as in the 4x100m freestyle relay, in which the team set a new world record — a total of six Olympic gold medals now attached to her name.

Following her retirement from the pool, Van Dyken traveled as a keynote speaker to venues as diverse as schools to national corporations. Also jumping to the broadcasting realm of sports, she has worked as a sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, as well as a morning drive-time host in Phoenix and a co-host on Fox Sports Tonight with Rob Dibble. She works with humanitarian organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as well as her and her husband’s annual celebrity fundraiser to raise money for disadvantaged children. As evidence of Van Dyken’s contribution to the sport of swimming, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2007, and the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008.

A less joyful date, Van Dyken was in a serious ATV crash on June 6, in which she severed her T11 vertebra, just millimeters away from rupturing her aorta. Despite a prognosis of paralysis, Van Dyken remains hopeful and optimistic, even managing to independently move one of her legs. A voice of inspiration with an Olympic champion’s perseverance, Van Dyken is truly an embodiment of hope.