Sandy Neilson

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameSandra Lynn "Sandy"•Neilson (-Bell)
Used nameSandy•Neilson
Born20 March 1956 in Burbank, California (USA)
Measurements173 cm / 63 kg
AffiliationsEl Monte Aquatic Club
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 3
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 3


Although she finished only third in the U.S. Final Trials and third in the Olympic semifinal, 16-year-old Sandy Neilson was a surprise winner of the 100m freestyle at the München Olympics. She also won a gold medal in both relays, the U.S. posting a new world record in each. Neilson, from El Monte, California, won her only AAU title in 1971 when she won the 100y indoor championship. She also won the Pan-American Games 100m freestyle in the same year. She later attended U Cal Santa Barbara, where she won the 1977 AIAW 50 and 100 yd freestyle championships. In 1986 she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Neilson married Keith Bell, PhD, a sports psychologist and the two settled in Austin, Texas, where they founded the American Swimming Association. She coaches local swim teams and masters swimmers at various local pools in the Austin area.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1972 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) USA Sandy Neilson
100 metres Freestyle, Women (Olympic) 1 Gold
4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay, Women (Olympic) United States 1 Gold
4 × 100 metres Medley Relay, Women (Olympic) United States 1 Gold

Special Notes