Amy Van Dyken competes in the women's 100-meter butterfly during the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Van Dyken won the gold with a time of 59.13 seconds.
Six-time Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken Rouen remains in intensive care in an Arizona hospital following an accident on an all-terrain vehicle Friday.
According to the Associated Press, a letter from the Van Dyken and Rouen families said she severed her spinal cord at the T11 vertebra and that the broken vertebra came within millimeters of rupturing her aorta.
Van Dyken Rouen, 41, had been air lifted to the Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center. Van Dyken Rouen is married to former NFL punter Tom Rouen, who told The Denver Post that she was in “good spirits.”
Van Dyken Rouen had been riding an ATV vehicle near her Arizona home when she hit a curb and her vehicle hit an embankment, news reports have said. Tom Rouen told The Denver Post that his wife was not breathing at the time of the accident.
"She needed about three days before she is out of the woods," Tom Rouen told The Denver Post. "She is strong and has a great attitude."
USA Swimming issued a news release on Monday: “The USA Swimming family is devastated to learn of Amy Van Dyken’s unfortunate accident this weekend. We’re happy to hear that she escaped and is now in great care. That she is already ‘acting like her typical spunky, boisterous, ebullient self shows she’s on a great path.
“Amy is a champion who has proven throughout her life that she is a fighter who takes on challenges and comes out on top. We know Amy will tackle her rehabilitation with vigor.”
Van Dyken Rouen had been inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008. She was the first U.S. woman to win four gold medals in one Olympic Games (in Atlanta in 1996) and followed up on that feat by winning two more gold medals in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
The swimming community reacted with many postings via social media.
Wrote Olympian Summer Sanders: Sending @amyvandyken and her family strength, love and prayers. She is tough as nails! @USA_Swimming
Added Janet Evans via Twitter: Thoughts, prayers and love to @amyvandyken.
Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. A former sports reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, she covered her fifth Olympic Games in Sochi. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today. Material from various news services and press releases from National Governing Bodies was used to compile this report.