Rica Reinisch (GDR)
Honor Swimmer (1989)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1980 gold (100m, 200m backstroke; relay); WORLD RECORDS: 5 (100m, 200m backstroke; relay); EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1981 gold (100m, 200m backstroke; relay); EUROPEAN RECORDS: 5 (100m, 200m backstroke; relay).
Even when half the world stays home the stopwatch can sometimes make the whole world believers. So it was when the watch was on, 15 year old Rica Reinisch backstroked her way to glory in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. By the time the week of Olympic Swimming was over Rica had Reinisched her way to five backstroke world records.
For good measure, she tied the four year old Olympic and world record of Hall of Famer, Ulrike Richter, a blazing 1:01.51 while leading off the medley relay. Two days later, Reinisch swam the 100 meter backstroke preliminaries and lowered the record to 1:01.50. The following day in the Olympic finals she did it again, gold medaling with a time of 1:00.86. In the 200 meter backstroke she got another gold with a time of 2:11.77, breaking Linda Jezek’s world record of 2:11.93. She performed the same two backstrokes and medley relay hat trick in the European Championships. The next year she set three European records to match her three Olympic records.
Reinishc made believers for her Coach, Uwe Neumann. This Dresden sensation joined teammates Richter, a triple winner in the 1976 Montreal Olympics and Birgit Treiber – two silver and bronze in 1980. All three were coached by Neumann.
Doping Disclaimer: In a German court of law, after this swimmer was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, team officials confessed to administering performance enhancing drugs to this swimmer, who therefore obtained an illegal and unfair advantage over other athletes. For more information, click here.