ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.
Mary T. Meagher was only 16 when she pulled off what Sports Illustrated would later recognize as one of the greatest sports performances ever.
It was August of 1981 at the U.S. long course championships when "Madame Butterfly" set a pair of world records that would stand for nearly two decades. In the 100-meter butterfly, Meagher knocked an incredible 1.33 seconds off her old world mark. In the 200 fly, she finished nearly 10 meters in front of her nearest competitor and broke her own record by nearly half a second.
Meagher, who was born the 10th of 11 children into a strict Catholic family in Louisville, Ky., is No. 32 in ESPN's countdown.
Earlier in this series:
No. 40: Diver Fu Mingxia
No. 39: Jockey Julie Krone
No. 38: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton
No. 37: Hockey player Cammi Granato
No. 36: Soccer player Kristine Lilly
No. 35: Basketball player Diana Taurasi
No 34: Volleyball player Flo Hyman
No. 33: Soccer player Abby Wambach