Betsy Mitchell is an American competitive swimmer who was a world record-holder, world champion and Olympic gold and silver medalist.
She began competitive swimming at the age of five, as a member of the Marietta, Ohio YMCA’s Marietta Marlins swim team. Later, Betsy attended Mercersburg Academy, in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, where she continued competitive swimming during her high school years. She graduated from Mercersburg in 1983 and remains passionately involved with the Academy having served as a longtime member of its Board of Regents.
Following high school, Betsy attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she competed for the North Carolina Tar Heels swimming and diving teams during her first year there, for the 1983–84 NCAA season.
At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Betsy won a silver medal for her second-place performance in the women’s 100-meter backstroke, finishing with a time of 1:02.63. She also earned a gold medal by swimming the backstroke leg for the winning U.S. team in the preliminary heats of the women’s 4×100-meter medley relay.
After the 1984 Olympics, Mitchell transferred to the University of Texas at Austin and swam for the Texas Longhorns swimming and diving team from 1985 to 1988. She won nine NCAA titles and was a member of the Longhorns NCAA national championship teams in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
She received the Honda Sports Award for Swimming and Diving, recognizing her as the outstanding college female swimmer of the year in 1987–88. She was inducted into the Texas Longhorns Hall of Honor in 2000.
Betsy set an American and world record in the 200-meter backstroke at the 1986 World Championship Trials (2:08.60). That world record stood for five years. The American record stood for 19 years. Swimming World Magazine named her as its American Female Swimmer of the Year in 1986.
She again competed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. She received a silver medal for swimming the backstroke leg for the second-place U.S. team in the women’s 4×100-meter medley relay in the preliminary heats. Individually, she also swam in the final of the women’s 100-meter backstroke, finishing fourth in the final with a time of 1:02.71.
Betsy was also was a member of the United States 1994 Rowing World Championship team. In 1998, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an “Honor Swimmer.”
She began her career in the academic arena as the women’s swimming coach at Dartmouth College from 1990 to 1996. She then served from 1997 to 2003 as the Director of Athletics at Laurel School for Girls in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Mitchell was then the Director of Athletics and Recreation at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania from 2005 to 2011.
She is currently the Director of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation – the first female to hold that position – at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in Pasadena, California.