Carolyn Wood (swimmer)

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Carolyn Wood
Carolyn Wood 1960.jpg
Wood at the 1960 Olympics
Personal information
Full nameCarolyn Virginia Wood
National teamUnited States
Born (1945-12-18) December 18, 1945 (age 75)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.[1]
Height5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Weight132 lb (60 kg)
StrokesButterfly, freestyle
ClubMultnomah Athletic Club
Medal record
Representing the United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1960 Rome 4×100 m freestyle relay

Carolyn Virginia Wood (born December 18, 1945) is an American former competition swimmer, Olympic champion, and former world record-holder.

Early years[edit]

Wood was born in Portland, Oregon, and swam for the Multnomah Athletic Club and for Beaverton High School, where she won seven individual state championships in butterfly, freestyle and the individual medley.[2]

1960 Olympics[edit]

At the 1960 U.S. Olympic Trials, Wood finished first in the 100-meter butterfly event and was favored to win the gold medal in the event at the Olympics. At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, however, during the women's 100-meter butterfly finals, she accidentally swallowed water during the turn and did not finish the race. She did win a gold medal as a member of the winning U.S. team in the women's 4×100-meter freestyle relay, together with teammates Joan Spillane, Shirley Stobs and Chris von Saltza. She swam the crucial third leg of the relay, during which she caught up to and passed Australian swimmer Lorraine Crapp and gave a two-foot lead to anchor swimmer von Saltza, who finished the relay in first place to give the Americans the gold medal. The U.S. relay team set a new world record of 4:08.9 in the event final—nine seconds faster than the previous record. Wood also swam for the gold medal-winning U.S. team in the 4×100-meter medley relay, but under the international swimming rules in effect in 1960, she did not receive a medal because she did not swim in the event final. Individually, she competed in the 100-meter freestyle, and finished fourth in the event final with a time of 1:03.4. Wood, at 14 years old, was the youngest member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team to win a medal.[3][4][5]

Life after swimming[edit]

Following the Olympics, Wood returned to her hometown of Portland, Oregon, where she attended Beaverton High School. During one summer, she worked as a lifeguard and was ruled a professional, and was therefore ineligible to swim in college or in subsequent Olympic Games.[3][6] Wood attended the University of Oregon[7] and graduated Phi Beta Kappa[8] before becoming an English teacher. She taught at both Beaverton High School and Wilson High School in Portland.[9][10] She was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.[6][7] Wood's autobiography, Tough Girl: An Olympian's Journey, was released in the autumn of 2016.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Carolyn Wood". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on April 17, 2020.
  2. ^ "OSAA Girls Swimming Championships" (PDF). Oregon School Activities Association. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Cluff, Carl (September 16, 1988). "Oregon's Olympians Look Back". The Oregonian.
  4. ^ Danzig, Allison (August 31, 1960). "Collegian Victor in Breast-Stroke". The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  5. ^ "U.s. Women Break Swim Relay Mark". The New York Times. September 4, 1960. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Schneidermann, Floyd (August 2, 1992). ""Giant Killers" Highlight of Oregon Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies".
  7. ^ a b "Hall of Fame Roll of Honor Members". Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Wendy Owen (May 18, 2013). "Long-time Beaverton swim coach Rod Harman named to the National High School Hall of Fame". The Oregonian. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  10. ^ "English Channel Awaits Wilson Swimmer". Karen Gaffney Foundation. 2015. Archived from the original on January 2, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  11. ^ "Drexler swings with Obama, Portland stars' Ali memories, a new home course for Ducks golf, and more". Portland Tribune. Retrieved July 20, 2016.