About this series
Coming up with a short list and then ranking the 10 greatest athletes in the history of each YAIAA high school was a daunting task. For sure, there is no scientific approach. But after two years of interviews, research and roundtable discussions, we are presenting as fair an attempt as possible to create an objective list on a decidedly subjective topic.
OUR CRITERIA: 1. The only accomplishments considered were those achieved while competing in high school varsity athletics. If an athlete earned a college scholarship, that was also factored in. 2. Accomplishments outside the setting of high school varsity sports and accomplishments after high school were not taken into account. 3. Athletes who attended more than one local high school were only evaluated at the school where they had the most varsity success. 4. Female athletes were rated by how they dominated their own sports not how they would fare going head-to-head against male athletes.

Your turn
If you d like to comment or offer a differing opinion on this list, we d love to hear from you. Each Sunday, we ll present your feedback on opinions on page 2 of the York Sunday News sports section - The Rundown. E-mail your thoughts to Sports Editor Chris Otto at cotto@ydr.com or mail them to: Greatest Athletes, c/o Chris Otto, 1891 Loucks Road, York 17408.

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Once said to have the worst butterfly one of her coaches had ever seen, Fairfield's Amy Roth didn't fare too bad for herself after all in the swimming pool.

Roth fine tuned that butterfly, along with other strokes, well enough to advance to the state tournament all four years of her high school career.

She ended up winning seven gold medals out of the eight events she qualified for during her run.

"It was pretty amazing," Roth said. "I don't think it was overwhelming, it was just amazing.

"There's an energy that goes on in high school swimming that doesn't go on in USS (club) swimming."

The passion for the pool never left Roth through of all her success, whether it was winning her first gold medal in 1994 in the 100-yard backstroke to swimming at Princeton University.

"It's such a unique experience and then to be on top of the podium as a freshman, it was just an amazing feeling, and that word doesn't even do it justice," Roth said of her first gold medal.

The second event of her freshman year would be the only time Roth didn't stand at the highest point on the medal podium during states. She placed fourth in the 200-yard individual medley.

But, the overall success of her freshman year led to her desire to finish out her career on top.

"Once I did it as a freshman, then you set standards," she said. "The second year there was a ton of pressure. My sophomore year, I was seeded fourth going into those events. There was a lot of nervousness from my parents down to my coaches."

But, those uneasy feelings soon subsided as Roth captured gold in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard IM in 1995.

Roth took the familiar walk to the top of the medal podium in both her junior and senior year as well in those two events to complete a remarkable high school career.

She also captured All-America honors in 1995-1997 and set state records at the time in 100-yard backstroke in 1996 and again in 1997. Roth also set the state record in 1995 and broke it again in 1996 in the 200-yard IM.

The fact that she swam as an independent because Fairfield didn't have a swim team only added to her achievements.

"It wasn't that hard for me," Roth said of swimming as an independent. "The club team that I swam for was a mixture of high schools in Pennsylvania, so I really wasn't alone."

The fact that the 5-foot-4 swimmer was able to swim at the collegiate level is also stunning, given the fact she only started swimming on an impulse.

"I was seven or eight, and it was on a whim. My neighbor was recruiting swimmers for the local YMCA team, and my parents said, 'Yeah she can do it for the summer, it will be something to keep her busy', and then I just never gave it up."

She also never let her small stature deter her from reaching her goals in the pool.

Fairfield’s Amy Roth today.
Fairfield's Amy Roth today.

"I'm not really the appropriate size for a swimmer, because I'm so short. A lot of my competition was much taller than I was, but I was often able to overcome them because I had better technique. I was a very technical swimmer," Roth said.

As is the case for some athletes who arrive at college trying to duplicate the success they had at the high school level, injuries take a toll.

Unfortunately for Roth that scenario unfolded in her first two years at Princeton, when herniated discs in her back cut short her freshman year.

The pain in her back returned in her sophomore year at Princeton, forcing her to cut her career short.

"I wasn't able to finish my college career, which was a big disappointment for me," Roth said.

That frustration led Roth to focus even more on her studies at the very prestigious university, where she obtained her major in religion in 2001.

After a few years working, Roth returned to school, this time at Lake Erie College of Medicine in Bradenton, Fla. She will graduate from LECOM in 2011.

"This is always really what I wanted to do," Roth said. "It's far more of a passion to get out of bed when you're working towards medical school, instead of just working for a paycheck."

Now, at 30-years-old, Roth doesn't look back and wonder what may have happened had her career stayed on track at Princeton.

"I can say I have no regrets about my 20s. I feel like I was ready to turn 30. I was ready to embark on a new stage of my life," Roth said.