Kansas Swimming Great Tammy Thomas-Ammons Visits Practice
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas school record holder and 1983 NCAA Champion in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, Tammy Thomas-Ammons was back on campus and paid a visit to Robinson Natatorium Friday to meet the swimming and diving team. Ammons, who will present the True Blue Award at Sunday’s Rock Chalk Choice Awards themed “History Makers and Record Breakers,” urged the swimmers to make the most of every day in a brief talk before practice.
“This is such an unbelievable university and the opportunities these girls have are incredible,” Thomas-Ammons said about her message. “They have put in the work, obviously, because they’re here – it took them a lot to get here. They’ve only got four years and if you waste that four years, for the rest of your life you’re going to wonder about the what ifs. That’s one of the most painful things as you get older, you should never have what ifs.”
The meet-up also allowed the All-Big Eight and All-America performer to tour the facility where she once trained and formed a bond with her now husband, Jim Ammons, a former swimmer on the Kansas men’s team. Thomas-Ammons records are still highlighted at the top of the Jayhawks’ record board in the competition pool.
“It takes me back,” Thomas-Ammons said. “All the old memories, all the old feelings – it makes me want to get in the pool and work out. That was what I always did when I came in this room, I think it’s almost like Pavlov’s dogs, your conditioned response when you come into this room – all those memories came back. There have been a lot of those memories as we’ve been through all the venues, that on a day-to-day basis, I probably wouldn’t have remembered. There was so much that happened here, but coming back brings everything back to the surface and it’s a really neat experience.”
Now a successful business woman in the Houston area where she runs a landscaping company and materials yard with Jim, Thomas-Ammons remains KU’s only NCAA individual champion in swimming and helped the 1982-83 squad to a seventh-place finish at the national meet, still the program’s best.
“What I did here has a direct impact on who I am now,” Thomas-Ammons said. “I’m successful now because I was successful here, it travels with you. Everything that those girls do, every day that they’re here – success or not, everybody has a bad day – if you mentally make it your best day, you got something out of it and that transfers later into life.”
The Jayhawks conducted team practice Friday in preparation for the Crimson and Blue meet on Oct. 2 and later, the season-opening double dual with Denver and Missouri State (Oct. 23-24), both with free admission and at Robinson Natatorium. The team will attend Sunday’s Rock Chalk Choice Awards, an Academy Awards-like celebration of the best academic and athletic performances of the previous school year at the Lied Center of Kansas, where All-American Chelsie Miller is nominated for KU’s Female Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season.
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