Having already surpassed many records at the senior level in her native province of British Columbia, swimmer Joan Langdon first gained attention throughout Canada when, at the age of 13, she set the national record for the 200 yard breaststroke. Although she came in second to Monica Trump in the 200 meter breaststroke during the Canadian trials for the 1936 Summer Olympics, she earned a spot on the team after Trump’s father refused to allow his daughter to travel to Berlin. Too poor to afford the required formal wear for the Games, she happened upon old family friend Erle Stanley Gardner, known as the author of the Perry Mason series, who paid for her clothes. At the Olympics she finished last in her heat in the 200 meter breaststroke and did not advance.
Langdon was not discouraged, however, and continued competing until 1944, amassing many national records and titles and twice being named Canada’s Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year (1942 and 1943). On the international level she won a bronze medal in the 220 yard breaststroke and finished fourth (alongside Noel Oxenbury and the non-Olympian Mary Baggaley) in the 3 x 110 yard medley relay at the 1938 British Empire Games and set a world record for the 50 yard breaststroke in 1940. Following her retirement from sport she became a teacher and was made a member of the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
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