FOR THE RECORD: 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (100m breaststroke);
THREE WORLD RECORDS: 1-100m breaststroke (lc), 2-
100m breaststroke (sc); 1994 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze
(100m breaststroke); 1998 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (100m
breaststroke); 1995 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (100m
breaststroke), bronze (200m breaststroke);
At the tender age of eight, this youngster started swimming at the Roeselare
swim club. He was coached by his father for the first eight years of his life.
Once he reached a certain level, his father thought he needed a more experienced
coach, where they found a Dutchman by the name of Ronald
Gaastra. But even when he was competing at the elite levels, he did not
have ideal training conditions. Gaastra lived 100 kilometers from Roeselare
and would communicate work outs by phone and would visit only once a
week, so his father remained his main support and motivator. Much of the
time, he trained by himself. He was the oldest in the club and had no real
peers, especially at
his elite level. This makes his accomplishments
that much more impressive!
Known in Belgium as “Fred Rocket”, Fred Deburghgraeve broke
onto the international scene at the 1990 Junior European
Championships where he won two bronze medals in the 100 and
200 meter breaststroke events. He continued on, competing at the
1994 World Championships, winning bronze in the 100 meter
breaststroke. He won gold in the 100 and bronze in the 200 meter
breaststroke at the 1995 European Championships.
But, it was not until the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games that
Deburghgraeve really made his mark. He swam a 1:00.60 in the
100 meter breaststroke, breaking the world record in the morning, going on to win the gold medal in the final that
evening. This feat made him the first person in history to win a gold medal in swimming for his native homeland,
In addition to his long course world record, Fred also set two
short course world records. He took the Phillips Petroleum
Award home to Belgium after breaking his own world record
in the 100 meter breaststroke with a 58.79 at the US Open at
College Station in late 1998.
Fred Deburghgraeve ended his career on a high note by taking
home gold in the 100 meter breaststroke at the 1998 World
Championships in Perth, Australia.
Fred Deburghgraeve (BEL)
2008 Honor Swimmer.