Rick Carey (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1993)
FOR THE RECORD: 9 WORLD RECORDS: 100m backstroke (3), 200m backstroke (2), 400m medley relay (4); OLYMPIC GAMES: 1984 gold (100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 400m medley relay); WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1982 gold (200m backstroke, 400m medley relay), silver (100m backstroke); PAN AMERICAN GAMES: 1983 gold (100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 400m medley relay).
During a sixteen year period from 1967-1983, only three men held the world 100-meter backstroke record: Hall of Famers Roland Matthes, John Naber and Rick Carey. A five-time world record holder in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke and the 400 meter medley relay.
A native of Mt. Kisco, New York, Rick Carey was the exception to the rule among the majority of American swimmers–he never left home for the bluer waters of the West Coast or the balmy weather in Florida after reaching the national level. Rather, Carey chose to remain with the Badger Swim Club in Larchmont, New York, where he first began swimming at age 12 under the tutelage of Coach John Collins.
A natural swimmer, Carey set the first of his many national backstroke records beginning in 1977, just two years after joining his local swim club. Although Carey made the 1980 Olympic team, it wasn’t until 1981 that his career sky-rocketed. That year, he not only captured his first national titles in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke, but he also established his first American record in the 200 backstroke.
That same year, Carey began his college career at the University of Texas under coach Eddie Reese. At Texas, Carey won three consecutive NCAA 200 yard backstroke championships (1982-1984) and two 100 yard backstroke championships (1983-1984).
Of all Carey’s record performances, perhaps his biggest claim to fame is that he is the man who broke John Naber’s 1986 world backstroke records in 1983. That same year, at the Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, Carey swam on the world record breaking 400 meter medley relay team which consisted of four current world record holders–Rick Carey (backstroke), Steve Lundquist (breaststroke), Matt Gribble (butterfly) and Rowdy Gaines (freestyle).