Karen Moe

Karen Moe

Karen Patricia Moe-Thornton (now Karen Moe Humphreys) (born January 22, 1953) is a former butterfly swimmer from the United States, who won the gold medal in the 200 m Butterfly at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany.

Born in the Del Monte, the Philippines, Moe and her family settled in Orinda, California. At the age of eight she started swimming and after joining the Orinda Aqua Bears Swim Team, she competed for the next eight years as an age group swimmer. In the late 1960s she had to overcome two spinal deformities, for which she was required to wear a corrective back brace at all times, except when in the water. In 1970 she set the world record in the 200 m Butterfly, taking the record from the legendary Ada Kok of Holland, and overcoming a bout with shoulder tendinitis attributed to the many yards swum in practice sessions. Soon after, she and her family moved to Santa Clara where she swam for coach George Haines at the Santa Clara Swim Club.

Her greatest individual achievement was at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games where Moe won the 200 m Butterfly in world record time of 2:15.56 seconds. It was a clean sweep by the American women with Lynn Colella (second) and Ellie Daniel (third). Moe also placed fourth in the 100 m Backstroke.

She returned home to a heroine's welcome and soon enrolled at UCLA in kinesiology. She took a two year layoff, but the Bruin's coach Colleen Graham convinced her to swim for the team. They were contenders for the women's collegiate national championship, and Moe became the national collegiate champion in the 200-yard butterfly, training the collegiate season from October through March only.

It was after graduation in 1976 that she married fellow student Mike Thornton and again began training for a second Olympic Games, even though she was considered an "old lady" at age 23. She made the team to 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, was elected the team captain and placed fourth in the 200 m Butterfly in an Olympics, that saw the women from the German Democratic Republic win every event but two.

Moe then retired from swimming, but not for long once again. She coached with her husband at the Beverly Hills YMCA for two years and in 1978 became the head women's coach at the University of California, coaching forty-nine All-Americans and nine Olympians. She is a three-time conference "Coach of the Year" and "1987 NCAA Coach of the Year".

In 2004, when Assistant Athletics Director there, she was laid off by the University in what she said was retaliation for her whistle-blowing about a hostile work environment for women in the athletics department. In 2007, the University settled the case with reinstatement and a payment of $3.5 million in addition to back pay. [ "U. of California to Pay Former Coach $3.5-Million to Settle Sex-Bias Lawsuit" [http://chronicle.com/news/index.php?id=2721 Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2007] ]

In total, Moe set seven American Records and four World Records. She was a member of the first U.S. Sports Team to make the Goodwill Trip to the Peoples Republic of China following the Ping Pong Exchange in 1973. In 1992 Moe was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer.


External links

* [http://www.ishof.org/92kmoe.html Karen Moe on the ISHOF-website]

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