Six-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen is in critical condition in the ICU in Scottsdale, Arizona, after an ATV accident that gave her a life-threatening back injury. Watch the video above to see her win the 50-meter freestyle in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Here’s what you need to know about this world-class athlete and her crippling condition:
1. She Severed Her Spinal Cord
Van Dyken-Rouen crashed a four-wheeled ATV on Friday near her home in Scottsdale. After she and her husband, former NFL player Tom Rouen, went out to dinner, Van-Dyken was riding an ATV back when she hit a curb on the road and crashed, falling off her vehicle and ending up in an embankment. It is not known if the vehicle rolled over her.
Her husband was riding a motorcycle behind her and rushed her to the hospital immediately.
Rouen told the Denver Post:
She wasn’t breathing. I raised up the back of her neck with my hand, she started gasping for air.
A paramedic who had also been out to dinner saw the accident and raced to help Rouen. Van-Dyken was conscious when the EMT arrived on the scene but was struggling to breathe, according to police on the scene. Van Dyken was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Scottsdale.
A police officer at the scene reported that she was unable to move her toes or feet and could not feel her legs.
2. She’s Showing Signs of Improvement
Husband Tom Rouen says Van Dyken-Rouen is showing improvement. She had surgery immediately after her arrival in the ICU to attempt to save her severed spinal cord.
Rouen told the Denver Post after the surgery:
She needed about three days before she is out of the woods. She is strong and has a great attitude.
3. She’s a Six-Time Gold Medalist Swimmer for the U.S.A.
Van Dyken-Rouen, now 41 years old, competed in both the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics. In 1996 she struggled with asthma but swam through it and won the 50-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly, along with being a part of two winning relays to tally four gold medals in the same Olympics. In 2000, she added two more Olympic gold medals in two relays.
4. Her Husband Is Former NFL Punter Tom Rouen
Tom Rouen played in the NFL as a punter with the Seahawks, Panthers, 49ers and Broncos. Rouen and Van Dyken have been married for 13 years and reside in Scottsdale.
5. She Worked for Fox Sports Radio
Van Dyken swam for the University of Arizona in her freshman and sophomore years, then transferred to her home state to represent Colorado State for her final years in college. In 2008, she was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame.
Van Dyken created quite a ripple in the sports world during her swimming era and continued on to a career in broadcasting. She started working in a local radio in Arizona and eventually ended up with Fox Sports Radio.