Who is Greta Andersen?

Quick (and way too brief) highlights of Greta's swimming career:

  • 1948 - Wins gold and silver at the Olympic Games in London
  • 1949 - Greta is the fastest swimmer in the world holding the world record for the 100m freestyle
  • 1952 - Two months before the Olympic Games, Greta has knee surgery and is told she'll never swim again.
  • 1956 - Wins the 25-mile Atlantic City World Championship. Greta goes on to win it 7 more times in a row.
  • Lake Michigan - Chicago to Kenosha - 55 miles - beat all men and women. 2nd place finisher was 5 miles behind!
  • 1957 - Wins first English Channel race
  • 1958 - Wins 26-mile Professional Marathon Swim in Guaymas, Mexico
  • 1958 - Wins second English Channel race
  • 1959 - Third English Channel race
  • 1964 - Inducted into the National Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame
  • 1969 - Inducted into the National Swimming Hall of Fame

Greta Andersen has been acclaimed throughout the world as one of the greatest swim champions who ever lived. As an amateur swimmer, Greta won 72 championships in Scandinavian and European swimming events.

In 1948, she competed for Denmark in the Olympic Games held in London, where she won gold in the 100 meter freestyle and silver in the 4 x 100 meter relay.

After the Olympics, Greta turned to marathon swimming-distances of ten miles or more. She broke 18 world marathon records. She was the first woman to complete five crossings of the English Channel (and set speed records in both directions) and the first person to swim the Santa Catalina Channel both ways...nonstop (a feat that took almost 27 hours)!

In all of Greta’s marathon competitions, she earned first, second, or third place in every event with men, and she always placed first in every event with women.

In 1969, Greta was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and has also been honored as Athlete of the Year twice.

Pretty impressive for someone who, as a child, was fearful of the water and did not learn to swim until the age of fifteen!

Greta has devoted over 30 years to teaching children how to be water-safe and confident swimmers. "Teaching toddlers to be unafraid of water ... introducing them to the fun of swimming, has been my fond ambition from the beginning.”

And she adds: "The younger they learn, the better."

Articles and Links:

Sports Illustrated, May 20, 1968
International Swimming Hall of Fame
Open Water Swimming website

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