Jennifer ("Jenny") Beth Thompson (born February 26, 1973) is an American former competitive swimmer, and one of the most decorated Olympians in history, winning twelve medals, including eight gold medals (all relay), in the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 Summer Olympics.
Thompson, a Massachusetts native who calls Dover, New Hampshire her hometown, began swimming at age 7 at a summer country club called Cedardale in Groveland, Massachusetts. She swam there every summer from ages 7 to 12 under coach Nancy Pearson Brennan. During the indoor season, she swam at the Danvers YMCA from ages 7 to 9, and then continued swimming under coach Nancy Pearson Brennan at the Andover-North Andover YMCA from the ages of 10 to 12. At age 12 she began swimming for Seacoast Swimming Association under coaches Amy and Mike Parratto.
She first appeared on the international scene as a 14-year-old in 1987, when she won the 50-meter freestyle and placed third in the 100 m freestyle at the Pan American Games. She won her first world championship in 1991, as part of the USA's winning 4x100 m freestyle relay team, and held the world record in the 50 m and 100 m freestyle when she participated in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
In 2006, Thompson received a medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and is currently working as an anesthesiologist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
World competitions and records
Thought to be at the height of her competitive career at the time, Thompson was expected to win up to five gold medals at those Olympics. However, she failed to qualify for the final in the 200 m freestyle, finished a disappointing fifth in the 50, and finished second in the 100 m, where she was beaten by Zhuang Yong of China. Thompson won two gold medals as part of the 4x100 m free and 4x100 m medley teams. Considerable controversy was raised after the 100 m freestyle when the U.S. team speculated on the loose doping policy standards in Barcelona—at that time the event winner did not have a mandatory doping test—only the second and fourth-place finishers were tested, based on a random draw. Thompson and her teammates believed that the Olympic champion should be tested and that rule was changed a few months later when 9 members of the Chinese swimming team tested positive for steroid use.
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