With the 1968 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team gathered in Colorado Springs for training prior to the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games, high school junior Debbie Meyer received a card from her father. It included a motivational message:
Meyer, a precocious 16-year-old who grew up with asthma, had developed into an elite athlete. She had set world records in each event as she qualified for the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle races in The Olympics.
Meyer also had a quick wit — just as fast and snappy as her strokes — as she amended the card and sent it back to her parents in Sacramento:
Happiness is three gold medals.
Debbie Meyer was confident. And with good reason. A few weeks later, Meyer set Olympic records as she took gold in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle events.
“The whole experience and my career leading up to it and after it, I describe it to kids by using the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” Meyer said in an interview 40 years later. “There’s no explanation for it. There’s no word to describe the momentum, the magic, the desire, the determination, the dedication it took to get there.”
But while Meyer knew the hard work and dedication necessary to win Olympic gold, she decided not to make a run at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games. In January 1972, at age 19, she decided to retire.
“I just don’t seem to have the drive anymore,” she said at the time. “I have been to The Olympics and don’t want to work that hard to get there again. My mind tells me to get moving, but my arms won’t go.”