Cathy Carr West
Cathy Carr West was the first University of New Mexico athlete and the first athlete in the state of New Mexico to win an Olympic gold medal.
In July of 1972, the Albuquerque native and Highland High School grad won the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100-meter breaststroke by tying the then-existing world record of 1:14.2. Most of the swimming world did not take Cathy seriously and considered her win at the trials a fluke, but she was to prove them wrong again.
On the evening of Sept. 2, 1972, in Munich, Germany, the 18-year-old swimmer won the gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke. Carr's victory over three-time Olympian and former gold medalist, Galina Stepanova of the Soviet Union, was by two body lengths and established a new world record time of 1:13.58.
With this victory, Carr automatically qualified as a member of the USA's 400-meter medley relay team. On Sept. 4, 1972, the U.S. women's team won gold by setting a new American and Olympic standard with a time of 4:20.75. Carr's 100-meter breaststroke on the medley relay was an extraordinary 1:11.9, or 1.68 seconds faster than her original record.
While attending UNM, Carr was an honor student and the first female athlete to receive an athletic scholarship under the Provisions of Title IX of the Higher Education Act of 1972.
As a collegiate swimmer at UNM, Carr established Inter-Mountain Conference, national collegiate and American records in the 50 and 100-yard breaststroke. She was also the first American female swimmer to break the one-minute barrier in the 100-meter individual medley.
Representing UNM at the World University Games in Moscow in 1973, Carr was elected by her peers as the American flag bearer at the opening ceremonies. She went on to set three World University Games records, win a silver medal in the 100-meter breaststroke and achieve high-point honors against the world's best collegiate swimmers.