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Swimming at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games:

Women's 100 metres Butterfly

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Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Olympic Swim Stadium, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Date Started: August 2, 1984
Date Finished: August 2, 1984

Gold: USA Mary T. Meagher
Silver: USA Jenna Johnson
Bronze: FRG Karin Seick


The greatest female butterfly swimmer of all-time was in Los Angeles, so the gold medal went to [Mary T. Meagher]. Mary T would have been favored to win both butterfly events at Moscow, as the world record holder, but the boycott put paid to those hopes. In 1981 she had won the US Nationals in 57.93, a stunning Beamonesque mark that broke her world record by 1.33 seconds and would last as the world record until 1999. In 1982 she won the World Championships in the 100 fly. Swimming World magazine wrote “From 1979 through 1982, Mary T. Meagher dominated the 100 butterfly probably more than any other swimmer has in any event.” But by 1983 Mary T had grown up, was a college freshman at U Cal Berkeley, gained the requisite freshman-15, did not make the US team for the 1983 Pan Ams, and had only the seventh fastest time in the world that year.

But wanting to prove herself at the Olympics, and to the East Germans, Mary T dropped out of school and moved to Mission Viejo to dedicate herself to Olympic gold. In January 1984 she swam 59.63 at the USS International, her best time since 1982, but she was beaten at the US Trials in June by [Jenna Johnson]. She and her coach, Mark Schubert, were concerned but he convinced her that she had overtapered for the Trials. In the prelims in Los Angeles, Mary T qualified first with 59.05, the second-fastest performance ever, followed by Johnson with 59.99. The third-fastest qualifier was the Netherlands' [Annemarie Verstappen], but she was 1½ seconds behind Johnson.

In the final Johnson went out suicidally in 27.18 – Meagher had recorded only 27.75 in her 57.96 world record. Meagher also bettered than, turning in 27.47, and she had more left. But it took 90 metres for Meagher to finally get past Johnson, who was by then struggling. The gold medal time for Meagher was 59.26, Johnson coming home in 1:00.19, with West German [Karin Seick] outlasting Verstappen for bronze.

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