Celebrating the great women of Australian Swimming - Carlile Swimming

Celebrating the great women of Australian Swimming

Today, International Women’s Day we celebrate some of the greatest women in the history of swimming. We are in a golden era right now, Ariarne Titmus, Emma McKeon, Mollie O’Callaghan and Kaylee McKeown are setting the world of swimming alight.

But just think back for a moment of the legends Australia has produced.

The first woman ever to receive a gold medal for a woman’s event at the Olympics was none other than our own Fanny Durack. Fanny and team-mate Mina Wylie fought sexism at home. So much so they were still in Australia when the boat left with the men of the team.

Fanny and Mina were desperately raising money to afford to go by staging swimming and diving exhibitions. They got there and promptly finished with gold and silver in the historic 100m freestyle in Stockholm.

Wind the clock forward to another golden era, of world record holders Lorraine Crapp, Ilsa Konrads and the incomparable Dawn Fraser.

Dawn and the team trained in what is now Carlile Swimming’s Castle Cove pool before the 64 Tokyo games where Dawn became the first person ever to win the same event at three successive Olympics.

Then of course, who can forget the mighty Carlile woman of 1972. What an Olympics it was. The high point in the careers of two ground-breaking Australians who helped lay the foundations for those who followed, Ursula Carlile and Shane Gould.

Shane and Ursula Carlile

The pair will be forever linked by the unprecedented events of the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Ursula had made history by being named in the team. The first woman to coach Australia at an Olympic Games. She would go on to be the only woman to be the head coach of the Australian swimming team.

In a world of dominate men, it was a remarkable milestone and even on the team she had to fight for the respect that was rightfully hers.

“Most of the coaches were pretty good, but there was one who always thought he was right. Even when he was wrong,” Ursula quipped years later.

Ursula who we sadly lost last year and Forbes who passed in 2016 had shaped the careers of both Gould and her team-mate Gail Neall, who would win the 400IM Gold in Munich.

15-year-old won Shane won five individual medals at the one Olympics. For perspective, even our most successful Olympian Emma Mckeon cannot match that record.

Amongst Shane’s five medal haul in Munich were three golds, all in world record time.

Ursula’s timeless career broke down barriers for women across the globe, with Forbes they are the only husband and wife team to be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

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