The 47-year-old, three-time Olympic gold medalist grew up in St. Matthews and still visits her hometown regularly. She lives in Peachtree City, Ga.
This article appeared in the August 2012 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
Your greatest accomplishment?
“Probably my two world-record swims in 1981. Oh, and graduating from Cal Berkeley is a huge feather in my cap.”
Who are your favorites for this summer’s Olympics?
“Yikes — not sure. I really don’t keep up with it enough.”
Could you win another swimming title if you got in the pool today?
“There’s no way. I don’t have the mental discipline that I used to, nor the pain tolerance — not to mention a young-enough body.”
If forced to get a tattoo today, what would you get?
“A butterfly — the stroke I swam and a reminder that change is good.”
Earliest childhood memory?
“Running in our yard in my diaper.”
What song’s been stuck in your head lately?
“Thank goodness it’s not the Barney ‘Clean Up’ song anymore. I used to run to that song even though I’d be running to take a break from my kids.”
Your perfect meal?
“Seven small courses of dynamic flavors, all perfectly matched with great wine.”
Last live performance you saw in Louisville?
“The Veri**on Play at Actors Theatre during the Humana Festival.”
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“I actually thought about becoming a nun and teaching and doing mission work.”
The weirdest place somebody has recognized you in public?
“A few years ago I was at Target in St. Matthews, and someone said, ‘Hey, you’re Mary T. Meagher, right?’ And then after passing and getting a few yards away, he yelled, ‘I almost didn’t recognize you with your clothes on!’”
“Red wine. Or mojitos in the summer.”
“I really like my clothes and feel they express me well — fashionable, sporty, conservative.”
All-time favorite Louisville restaurant?
“I loved the flavors at Basa on Frankfort Avenue when I went a few visits ago.”
Local sports team?
“Louisville Bats. My husband works for the Atlanta Braves (he oversees the stadium, concessions, security, etc.), so we’ve come to know baseball. We love the intimacy of Slugger Field and watching the sun set over the bridges during the game.”
“Bourbon and orange juice. It’s what my dad loved to drink, and now I drink it in his memory.”
All-time favorite Kentucky Derby winner?
“Sea Hero, 1993. It’s the Derby that was my first date with my husband. Also, Unbridled in 1990. It was a fun Derby with several college friends who came all the way from California to see what I had made a fuss about all those years.”
Best book you’ve read over the past year?
“Just finished Fearless, the story of Navy SEAL Adam Brown, on the plane yesterday. Even though I knew the ending, I couldn’t control my tears.”
Can’t-miss TV show?
“My daughter and I TiVo Castle. I also watch Huckabee on Fox News, and I wish Mike Huckabee were running for president.”
Your biggest Louisville guilty pleasure?
Where do you go to be alone?
“Church. Or I walk around the lake near our home.”
What makes somebody a Louisvillian?
“Must be there for at least five years and think it’s the greatest place to live.”
Photo: courtesy of Rachel Koops