Four years before the 2004 Athens Olympics, Jodie Henry used to become ill with fright at the thought of competitive swimming. It was an affliction which cost her the chance of swimming as a 16-year-old in the Sydney Games, and provoked arguments with her coach Shannon Rollason. By Athens she had overcome the problem, so well that when the defending champion Inge de Bruijn attempted to stare her down before the 100m freestyle final, she laughed and waved at friends. Henry had a symmetrically perfect record in Athens: three final swims, three gold medals, three world records. She won that 100 metre freestyle final, setting a world record on the way to it, to become the first Australian in 40 years to win the premier sprint event, and the third in history to do so.
In the 4 x 100m freestyle relay, which the Australian squad won in world record time, Henry swam the fastest 100 metres of any woman ever in her anchor leg, with an extraordinary split of 52.95 seconds. Along the way she humbled the greatest female relay swimmer in history, America’s Jenny Thompson, winner of eight relay gold medals over four Olympics. In the 4 x 100m medley relay final, Henry swam the anchor leg after Petria Thomas had turned a deficit of 1.68 sec. into a lead of 0.46 sec. on her butterfly (third) leg. Henry completed the package with a fabulous freestyle leg to set a world record. She and Thomas became the first Australian women since Shane Gould to win three gold medals at a single Olympics.
Harry Gordon, AOC historian