Sippy’s 200-meter freestyle, world record


Cynthia “Sippy” Woodhead is one of the greatest swimmers that most kids today have never heard of.

Triple gold medalist at the ‘78 World Championships at a mere 14 yrs old, she was expected by many to star at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, but was denied up to 6 medals due to the US-led boycott.

During her career, Woodhead dominated the 200m freestyle, holding the world record from 1978 to 1984.

Her ‘78 WC win and WR in the 200 free came at the expense of the East German world record holder and confirmed doper Barbara Krause. Unfortunately, Sippy was slowed by illness and injury following the 1980 Olympic Games, but was able to overcome and achieve a silver medal in 1984 at Los Angeles in her signature event.

Lethal in events from the 50 up to the 800m free, Sippy set the world record in the 50 free in 1980, which at that time was not an Olympic event. She was one of the rare athletes that could swim world-leading times in both sprints and distance simultaneously.

Video of Sippy at the 1978 world championships. Skip ahead to 3:25 to watch her smash the world record in the 200-meter free.

The 1978 World Record swim has been taken off of YouTube, it seems. 

Article on SwimSwam as her record turns 40-years old.

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