It is quite possible that the greatest women’s butterfly swimmer ever was USA Mary T Meagher…..known affectionately as Madame Butterfly….who is a former competition swimmer, Olympic champion and world record-holder. In 1981 she bettered her own existing world records in the 100-meter butterfly and 200-meter butterfly….as these times would stand as the respective world records for 18 and 19 years….and are considered to be among the greatest sports performances ever.
Meagher gave one of the most memorable performances in competitive swimming at the U.S. Swimming National Championships held in Brown Deer, Wisconsin in 1981…..where she set world records in both the 200-meter and 100-meter butterfly….as the two primary distances at which the butterfly is contested in competitive swimming. The times for both records were considered astonishing, especially the record of 57.93 seconds that Meagher set in the 100-meters….which was a drop of over a second below the previous world record….as both times would stand as the world records for nearly two decades….when American swimmer Jenny Thompson lowered the 100-meter record in 1999….while Susie O’Neill of Australia set the record in the 200-meter a year later. Some have argued that Meagher’s records in the butterfly were among the most impressive records ever set in sport….much less swimming alone….as it ranks among such noteworthy records as Bob Beamon’s long jump world record set at the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968. These two swims led Meagher to being named Female World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World Magazine….which she repeated by winning again in 1983…..as this video seen herewith so aptly exhibits her swimming prowess four years later.
Simply put, as with all footage of Madame Butterfly….this video is proof in the puddling that she was history in the making…..which makes this video another “nugget of gold” in our treasure chest of vintage memories here at ImaSportsphile as we salute Mary T.