Sandy Neilson-Bell

From Openwaterpedia
(Redirected from Sandy Neilson)
Sandra Neilson-Bell, triple Olympic gold medalist and open water swimming race director

Sandy Neilson-Bell (born 20 March 1956 in Burbank, California) is an American world-class freestyle competitive swimmer, open water swimmer, and open water swimming event organizer from Austin, Texas.

Competitive Swimming Career

  • Neilson-Bell won three gold medals as a 16-year old high school sophomore at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. One of those gold medals came in the 100-meter freestyle, where Neilson defeated favorites Shane Gould from Australia and her USA teammate Shirley Babashoff.
  • She also won a gold in the 100-meter freestyle and 400-meter relay and a silver in the medley relay at the 1971 Pan American Games. She set 3 world records in relays during her career and 4 American records. She won 2 AAU National Championship titles and 2 AIAW Championship titles.
  • Whether it was in the pool or open water, she helped redefine what an adult swimmer can do in the pool and open water swimming. At the age of 28, she swam more than a second under her 1972 Olympic record time of 58.59. "I want to swim as fast as I can for as long as I can."
  • She manages the pool competitions and open water swimming events sanctioned and organized by the American Swimming Association together with her husband Dr. Keith Bell.


In 1986 she was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer and was a nominee for the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

  • 1972 Olympic Triple Gold Medalist
  • Pan American Games Gold Medalist
  • American & World Record Holder
  • International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer, Class of 1986
  • International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer, Class of 2005
  • Helmʼs Hall of Fame
  • University of California Santa Barbara Athletic Hall of Fame
  • El Monte High School Hall of Fame
  • USA Swimming Comeback Swimmer of the Year 1984
  • Texas Swimmer of the Century for 20th Century
  • 1988 Olympic Trials Finalist at age 32
  • First swimmer ever to rank internationally in 3 different decades
  • First 30 & 35-year-old and only 39-year-old ever to qualify to swim U.S. National Championships
  • First woman over 30 and first woman over 35 to break one minute in the 100m freestyle
  • Over 75 Masters National Championships, 72 Masters National Records, 38 Masters World Records

American Swimming Association Open Water Events

Do It For The Oldies

External links