Debbie Meyer


Rio Americano graduate Debbie Meyer joined Johnny Weismuller, Mark Spitz, and Don Schollander when she was named among the world’s best swimmers of the century by sportscasters across the country. More than 20 years after her phenomenal performance in the Olympics, Debbie Meyer is still considered one of the greatest female swimmers of all time.

For someone who never took a swimming lesson, her accomplishments are impressive.

  • At the age of 16, the first swimmer to win three individual gold medals during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City in the 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle events.
  • Two gold medals, 400m and 800m freestyle, 1967 Pan American Games, at the age of 14.
  • Held five world records simultaneously, 200m, 400m, 800m, 880yd, and 1500m freestyle.
  • Broke 20 world records and 24 American records from 1967 to 1971. Won 19 national championships from 1967 to 1971.
  • 1967 TASS News Agency Award and Cuba News Agency Award, both as world’s best athlete.
  • 1968 James E. Sullivan Award, Genoa (Italy) Outstanding Person Award, Swimming World Swimmer of the Year Award 1967, 68, and 69. Associated Press Athlete of the Year in 1969, L.A. Times Women of the Year, Professional Athlete of the Year (the only amateur or female to receive it), Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame.
  • Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Maryland Sports Hall of Fame, New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame, California Community College Hall of Fame, California Community College Swimming Hall of Fame, the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, the Women’s International Sports Hall of Fame.
  • Named one of the 100 Golden Olympians by Xerox and the United States Olympic Committee.
  • Voted athlete of the century in Sacramento in 1999.
  • She was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Northern California CIF Charter Class in 2010.

After retiring from competition in 1972, one of her priorities continues to be working with young people. “I have had such a rewarding career and I enjoy sharing it with others. Perhaps I may inspire someone else to strive for their best,” said Meyer. She has conducted motivational clinics nationwide and in 10 foreign countries, and has coached from the grass roots level to NCAA Division I schools. She has been color commentator for CBS Sports Spectacular and ESPN. Coca Cola, Sports Illustrated, M&M Mars, Life Savers, Rainbow Bread Iron Kids, Speedo and Xerox are some of the companies she has done promotional work for.

Meyer continues to devote her time to helping youth in the Sacramento area. She owns the Debbie Meyer Swim School working with infants to adults, competitive and adaptive swimmers. She currently resides in Truckee, California with husband Bill Weber. She is coach of the Truckee Tahoe Swim Team.