Editor's note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today's list: The top 10 female swimmers in Tucson history.
On an otherwise slow Wednesday morning, July 29, 1992, about 250 people from Benson squeezed into the classroom of Benson High School teacher and coach Leo Ahmann.
A disc jockey from a Tucson radio station and a TV satellite technician made it possible for all in attendance to watch (and listen to) the Olympic women’s swimming 100 meter butterfly championship.
Benson’s own Crissy Ahmann, the American record holder, was the subject of her hometown’s affection.
During her high school days in Benson, Ahmann was mostly the only girls swimmer on the Bobcats’ team.
After driving back and forth from Benson to the UA aquatic center during her high school days — training with coach Dick Jochums and later Frank Busch — Ahmann had become a world-class swimmer, with two NCAA championships in the 100 butterfly.
As Arizona emerged as an NCAA swimming powerhouse; the UA women’s team finished seventh at the 1991 NCAA finals, the first time a Wildcat team cracked the NCAA top 10.
Ahmann — now Crissy Perham — was the force behind Arizona’s move into national consciousness in women’s swimming, one that would ultimately lead to 14 consecutive finishes in the nation’s top 10.
In the finals of the Barcelona Olympics 100 butterfly, Ahmann and China’s Hong Qian appeared to touch the finish line simultaneously. When all the decimal points were in place, Qian won the gold in 58.62 seconds; Ahmann won the silver medal in 58.74.
“Everyone at home will still love me even if I have a silver medal,’’ Ahmann said.
Selecting 10 UA women’s swimmers for this list was, as with most of the Top 10 rankings, impossibly crowded with top choices. Here is our list: