Kathy Ellis (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1991)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1964 gold (400m freestyle relay, 400m medley relay); bronze (100m freestyle, 100m butterfly); WORLD RECORDS: 4 (100m butterfly, 3 relays); AAU NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 4 (100yd & 100m butterfly); 1963 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (100m butterfly), bronze (100m freestyle); AMERICAN RECORDS: 7 (100yd & 100m butterfly, 3 relays).
Coach Gene Lee developed many champions at the Indianapolis Athletic Club during the 50s and 60s, but none as aspiring as the young Kathy Ellis, who won her first National Championships at age 14 in the 100 yard butterfly in 1961. She was a freestyler/butterflyer combo and performed equally well in both strokes.
1963 was her “take-off” year when she won the Gold Medal in the 100 meter butterfly at the Pan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil, followed by the bronze medal in the 100 meter freestyle. At the U.S. Nationals that same year, she set the world record mark for the 100 meter butterfly with a 1:06.5.
1964 was Kathy’s most successful year. At the 15th Olympiad, in Tokyo, Kathy again proved her dominance in two strokes by winning gold medals in the 400 medley relay as the “flyer” and as the anchor of the 400 meter freestyle relay, both world record finishes. Individually, she captured the bronze medals in the 100 meter freestyle and butterfly.
Ellis retired after the Olympics to enroll at Indiana University. She returned to swimming in 1977 as a coach of the Riviera Team, left vacant by the death of her coach, and then assumed the coaching position of the men’s team at Butler University, a position held by few women in a Division I school.
Kathy lives in Carmel, Indiana, with her husband and two children, both of whom are star soccer players.