Tammy Thomas Ammons
Tammy Thomas Ammons
Born: September 17, 1961 (Fort Knox, KY)
Graduated: Lawton (OK) H.S., 1979 / University of Kansas, 1983
If you asked someone why they chose the sport they played or the career they are in, most will tell you it is because of someone else in their life. For Tammy Thomas Ammons, her swimming career all started because of her older brother did it and he was someone she looked up to. That humble beginning is what leads Ammons to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame today.
Swimming was the one aspect of her life that gave Ammons a sense of normalcy throughout her childhood. A child of a military family meant multiple moves throughout her childhood. She changed schools and friend groups multiple times but the one constant was her time in the pool.
Ammons would practice her craft at the local YMCA and she never had formal training. For the most part, it fell to her parents coach her.
While she grew up all over the country, she went to Lawton High School in Oklahoma. While there, she went on multiple recruiting trips to different colleges for swimming. In the end, Ammons picked the University of Kansas as the place she would swim competitively and get a college degree over the next four years.
The minute that Ammons arrived on the campus in Lawrence, Kansas, she knew that was where she wanted to be. “The people I met were super nice and it was a beautiful campus,” said Ammons.
After arriving on campus, Ammons discovered how different the next level of competition was going to be. From weight training, to running, to watching what she ate more carefully. Ammons developed an entirely new training regimen. But through all of that she learned, “if you do dedicate all your time to one endeavor, you can do anything you want to with it.”
The results of that training dedication were nothing short of astounding. She was a 17-time All-American and was the first KU swimmer to earn All-American honors four consecutive years. She was named the 1983 Co-Big Eight Athlete of the Year during her senior year while winning twelve Big Eight conference titles.
Although she graduated in 1983, her competitive career wasn’t over as the Olympic trials for the 1984 games were just on the horizon. Ammons trained for a year and competed at the trials in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ammons remembered that challenge vividly because her grandmother was able to make the trip to Indianapolis. “It meant the world to me that she was able to come,” Ammons said about the experience.
As she has gotten older, Ammons recognized the impact her brother and parents had on her life. Afterall, her parents gave a lot so that she could pursue her dreams. She realized that there was only one way to repay them: do the same for her son and for him to pass it on to his kids someday.
When Ammons remembers everything that she has done and accomplished throughout her life, she said, “I wouldn’t change a thing, because it might change who I am today.” And today, she is an inductee of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Written by: Julia Jorns