"Her performance was the equivalent of a footballer being the best in the world in every position from half-back to front-row, from goalie to striker, from full forward to mid-field."
Her natural athleticism was unheard of "it’s like an athlete being fast enough to win the Olympic 100 metres sprint and durable enough to win a marathon."
This tug of war was the force behind her retirement at the too-young age of 17 "ending a swimming career that flared with the brilliant intensity and brevity of a spectacular firework."
The spotlight took its toll on Gould. It wasn't until decades later that she confessed to having "anxieties about her place in the world outside of swimming that confused and distracted her."
To this day Gould is the only female swimmer to ever win three gold medals in world record time and five individual medals overall at an Olympics.
This is an extract from issue 2 of the Australian Sporting Heroes series. For more inspiring stories that shaped our nation, purchase the full collection at austsportingheroes.com.au.