Apr 152008
 
Authors: Nick Hubel

Amy Van Dyken, former CSU standout swimmer and the first American female athlete to win four gold medals in one Olympic Games, has been selected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced Tuesday.

Van Dyken is one of nine inductees in this year’s class and joins just 97 other individuals and seven teams already enshrined in the Hall.

“It’s been kind of a crazy day,” Van Dyken said in a phone interview from Modesto, Calif., where she is making an appearance. “My phone has been ringing off the hook . it’s a good interruption.”

Van Dyken brought home six gold medals over the course of her illustrious career, with four coming during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games (50-freestyle, 100-butterfly, 400-freestyle relay, 400-medley relay) and two in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games (4×100-freestyle relay, 4×100-medley Relay).

As a Ram, she set seven school records, along with one NCAA record in the 50-freestyle, and became the first CSU swimming national champion in 1994.

“When I was at CSU, I didn’t think that my accomplishments were as big as they were,” Van Dyken said.

“I was talking to a reporter (Tuesday) and I started to tear up. It’s actually starting to hit me that people are appreciating what I did. Having people appreciate something that you worked so hard for is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Van Dyken’s former CSU coach and current swimming and diving coach John Mattos said that he was infinitely proud of her accomplishment.

“It’s such an honor and yet such an incredible achievement,” Mattos said. “You can’t quite ever put it into a true picture of what it took to get there. It’s incredible.”

Mattos said that he still stays in touch with Van Dyken through e-mail and phone calls, remaining a close friend to his former pupil.

“You just wish you had an Amy around for every team that you coached,” he said.

The class of 2008 will officially be elected at a ceremony on June 19 in Chicago.

Van Dyken is joined by figure skater Brian Boitano, boxer Ocsar de La Hoya, basketball star David Robinson, marathoner Joan Benoit, equestrian J. Michael Plumb, volleyball great Karch Kiraly, shooter Lones W. Wiggert Jr. and Paralympic swimmer John Morgan.

Induction into the Hall was based on votes by U.S. Olympians and Paralympians, members of the Olympic family and the public.

Van Dyken is currently working as a correspondent for 850 KOA sports radio in Denver.

She is also training for the Ironman Triathlon and makes appearances around the country to share her Olympic story.

Sports writer Nick Hubel can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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