Former Cardinal Inducted Into International Swimming Hall Of Fame

May 29, 2001

Former Stanford swimmer Jeff Rouse has been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Rouse was one of ten athletes honored in this year's class of inductees.

FOR THE RECORD: 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (4x100m medley relay), silver (100mbackstroke), 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (100m backstroke, 4x100m medley relay),TWO WORLD RECORDS (L.C.): 4x100m medley relay, (S.C.): 100m backstroke, 1994WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (4x100m medley relay), silver (100m backstroke),1996 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (100m backstroke, 4x100m medley relay), FOURU.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1 (100y backstroke), 1 (100m backstroke), 2(4x100m medley relay), SEVEN NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 3 (100ybackstroke), 1 (200y backstroke), 1 (4x5Oy, 4x100y medley relays), 1 (4x100yfreestyle relay).

He loved to swim a lot of backstroke in practice, sometimes going 75% of theworkout on his back. He became better in the 100m backstroke than the 200mbackstroke, but as much time as he spent on his back, he never looked backwhen it came to achieving success. This slow talking, strong kicking swimmerbecame the number one ranked 100m backstroke swimmer in the world from 1989through 1996. Only Hall of Famers Roland Matthes, Krisztina Egerszegi andAdolph Kiefer could claim the same 8-year dominance in this stroke. Along theway, Jeff Rouse won Olympic gold medals, set World Records, and capturedWorld Championship titles. And he did it all with a confident butnon-arrogant style, a reflection of his heart-warming character.

He began at age five in the Ferry Farm Appahannock Swim League where Jeffswam all strokes. The pool in Fredericksburg, Virginia, was only blocks fromhis house. At age nine, we moved to the Quantico Devil Dolphins under thecoaching of Don Regenboghen. He set national age group records at age 11 andwas Swimming World's Age Group Swimmer of the month in 1983. By 1986, Jeffwas chosen Rookie of the Meet at his first U.S. National Championships. Aftergraduation from Stafford High School in 1988 and enrolling at Stanford, Jeffwas on his way to international stardom.

His 6 feet 3 inch, 190-pound body was suited just right for swimmingbackstroke. Long and strong with powerful legs, he could kick 100 yardsbackstroke in 1:07 seconds. His belief was that if you concentrated on theproper stroke technique at all times, you would swim fast. And swim fast hedid. In 1989, his first year at Stanford, he won the Pan Pacifics, 100mbackstroke, the first of four Pan Pacific Championship gold medals in thatevent. He won the NCAA National Championship in the 200m backstroke and overthe next three years he won a total of seven NCAA Championships.

His first backstroke World Record came in 1991 at the Edmonton Pan PacificChampionships. He and the world had watched David Berkoff set the WorldRecord in 1988 at the Seoul Olympics swimming the 100m backstroke. Berkoffwould go 33 meters dolphin kick underwater on his back at the start of therace and come up ahead of his opponents just before the first turn. This'Berkoff Blastoff' was much faster underwater than it was to swim on top ofthe water. After FINA changed the rules limiting the underwater kick to tenmeters, Berkoff's world record time of 54.51 appeared unbeatable. Rouse>proved otherwise when he became the first person under 54 seconds for the100m backstroke.

Jeff Rouse loved swimming. In his 1992 Olympic debut, he was out touched byCanadian and Hall of Famer Mark Tewksbury in the 100m back. Jeff declaredthat loss his catalyst to return in 1996 to win. He did. But in Barcelona,two days after winning the silver to Tewksbury, he won the gold in the 4x100mmedley relay with teammates Nelson Diebel, Pablo Morales and Jon Olsen. Jeffhelped set two World Records in that race, a relay record of 3:36.93 whichstood for four years until his 1996 Atlanta gold medal Olympic team of JeremyLinn, Mark Henderson and Gary Hall, Jr. broke it with a 3:34.8 and the 100mbackstroke World Record of 53.86 as the lead-off swimmer in the relay. Bothrecords stand today - 8-1/2 years later.

Rouse was captain of the USA 1996 Olympic team as well as his StanfordUniversity team. Says Coach Skip Kenny, 'Jeff leads by his work ethics andperformance. He's not a cheerleader, he does most of his talking one-on-one.'He is big on ethics, family and doing the right thing. He spearheaded a driveto put athlete's integrity together by instituting random drug testing of allathletes. He talks to school groups and encourages young students to alwaystry their hardest. He makes public appearances and works to promote thesport. He has appeared in a Sports Illustrated calendar and in numerousmagazines.

courtesy of International Swimming Hall of Fame

Now on Pac-12 Network
6:00 AM PT

Airing on:

  • Pac-12 Network
Get Pac-12 Networks
Pac-12 Networks Channel Finder