Meet Maritza Correia, an American Olympic gold medal swimmer and girlfriend to Olympic gold medalist swimmer Cullen Jones. See photos, video and a biography of Maritza here.
Although Maritza Correia retired from swimming in April 2008 (citing injuries and her father’s recent death), her heart was definitely in Beijing as she cheered on her boyfriend, Cullen Jones, in the gold medal 4×100 free relay Sunday.
As a biography, Maritza Correia was born on December 23, 1981 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Maritza’s parents, Vincent and Anne, hail from Guyana, but moved to San Juan before Maritza was born.
After Maritza was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 7, her doctor urged her to take swim lessons as her course of treatment. The family moved to Tampa, Florida when she was 9 years old. She attended Tampa Bay Technical High School and was a member of the school’s swim team. She became the U.S. National Champ in the 50m freestyle in 1999, in the under 18 category.
Upon graduation from Tampa Bay Technical, she moved on to the University of Georgia, where she was a member of the Swim and Diving team. She had a storied career as a Lady Bulldog, having been an 11 time NCAA champ and named All-American 27 times.
Maritza went to the Olympic Trials in 2000, but did not make the team. She went through a bout of depression, but was able get help and would win the gold medal the following year at the 2001 World Championship in Japan as part of the 800m freestyle relay.
Maritza was part of the silver medal 400 m free relay team at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She became the first African-American woman to be part of the U.S. Olympic team, as well as set records in swimming for the U.S. and the world. She won the bronze medal at the 2006 Shanghai World Championships in the 100 m freestyle and silver in the 4 x 100 medley relay.
She won gold in the 4 x 100 m freestyle relay at the 2007 Pan American Games.
She retired from swimming in 2008.
More photos and video of Maritza Correia are below.