Melvin Stewart

Melvin Stewart
Medal record
Men’s swimming
Competitor for the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold 1992 Barcelona 200 m butterfly
Gold 1992 Barcelona 4×100 m medley
Bronze 1992 Barcelona 4×200 m freestyle
World Championships (LC)
Gold 1991 Perth 200 m butterfly
Silver 1991 Perth 4×200 m freestyle
Pan Pacific Championships
Gold 1987 Brisbane 200 m butterfly
Gold 1989 Tokyo 200 m butterfly
Gold 1989 Tokyo 4×200 m freestyle
Gold 1991 Edmonton 200 m butterfly

Melvin Monroe ("Mel") Stewart (born November 16, 1968 in Gastonia, North Carolina) is a retired American swimmer who won two gold medals and one bronze medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Stewart graduated from Mercersburg Academy and the University of Tennessee.


Stewart was a prominent 200m butterfly swimmer of his era. A 14-time national champion, he won the 200 m event at the 1991 World Championships in Perth, defeating Hall of Famers Michael Groß of Germany and Tamás Darnyi of Hungary. Next year he became the gold medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Olympic record time, 1:56.26. Stewart, the world-record holder since 1991, won a second gold as a preliminary heat member of the 4×100m medley relay and a bronze on the 4×200m freestyle relay. In his first Olympic Games at Seoul in 1988, he was placed fifth in the 200m butterfly. Stewart held the world record at 1:55.69 from 1991 to 1995 when it was broken by Denis Pankratov of Russia.

It all began for Stewart in 1974. Under the direction of Coach Frankie Bell at the Johnston Memorial YMCA pool in Charlotte, North Carolina, he won National YMCA titles. Bell taught him stroke technique and built his love for the sport, motivating the already inspired youngster with a banana split every time he won. By age 10, he was ranked among the top 10 in the nation in his age group in sixteen events. “Little Melvin,” as he was called, grew up on the grounds of Heritage USA, the PTL Ministries Theme Park and religious retreat where his father was recreation director of Jim and Tammy Bakker’s Heritage Church and Athletic Director of his school, Heritage Academy.

Stewart became a butterfly side-breather, preferring this unconventional breathing technique to the more traditional head up breathing common to most butterfly swimmers. At 6’1”, 180 lbs., he had flexibility, quick hands and feet, remarkable turning ability and kicking power. His arms reached from lane rope to lane rope.

In need of some academic tutoring, his mentor, George Baxter, enrolled Stewart at Mercersburg Academy, a small boarding school known for its academics and competitive swimming teams. In his three years there, Mel became an honor student and a leader.

He followed his Mercersburg coach John Trembley to the University of Tennessee in 1985 and won the 200m butterfly at the Goodwill Games of 1986. He repeated with Goodwill Game wins in 1990 and 1994 in Moscow, and at the Pan Pacific Championships of 1987, 1989 and 1991. While at Tennessee, he won two NCAA titles in the 200m butterfly.

Stewart holds the record in United States Swimming for winning the most national championships (14) in one event (200m butterfly).

After failing to qualify for the 1996 Olympic Team, Stewart began to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He appeared in plays, movies and television shows. He served as an ABC Sports field reporter, hosted ESPN’s “American Outback” and appeared in several films. Stewart has written several films, including a new version of the Lee Falk's The Phantom (called The Ghost Who Walks).


He is currently an ambassador to the United States Swimming Foundation and hosts the show 'Gold Medal Minute' on He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Tiffany, and daughter, Bayley.

External links

Preceded by
West Germany Michael Groß
Men's 200 metre butterfly
world record holder (long course)

January 12, 1991 – June 14, 1995
Succeeded by
Russia Denis Pankratov

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