Tracy Caulkins Stockwell ranks among Tennessee’s most successful Olympians. She began swimming at age eight and, under the aegis of the Nashville Aquatic club, qualified for the Olympic Trials five years later. At fourteen, Caulkins won her first national title, and Swimming World named her American Woman Swimmer of 1977. She broke or tied twenty-seven world and U.S. swimming records in 1978. European sports editors voted her UPI Sportswoman of 1978, and less than a month after turning sixteen, Caulkins became the youngest recipient (and only Tennessean besides Wilma Rudolph) selected for the Sullivan Award, given annually to the nation’s top amateur athlete.
Though the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow slowed Caulkins’s momentum, she graduated from Harpeth Hall in Nashville, entered the University of Florida, and set five world records and over sixty U.S. records, and won forty-eight national titles. In the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles she captained the U.S. swim team. Caulkins won gold medals in the 400- and 200-meter individual medleys and the 400-meter medley relay. Her time of 2:12.64 in the 200-meter event set an Olympic record. Though she held sixty-three individual national titles, more than any other swimmer in U.S. history, Caulkins did not develop the professional persona upon which some athletes have capitalized.
A member of the Halls of Fame for Tennessee Sports, Women’s Sports, International Swimming, and the U.S. Olympics, she resides in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and their twins.