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Martha Norelius

Full name: Martha (Märta) Maria Norelius (-McAllister, -Wright, -Brown)
Gender: Female
Born: January 22, 1909 in Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden
Died: September 25, 1955 in St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Affiliations: Women's Swimming Association
Country: USA United States
Sport: Swimming

Related Olympians: Daughter-in-law of Joe Wright, Sr.; Wife of Joe Wright, Jr.; Daughter of Charles Norelius.

Medals: 3 Gold (3 Total)

Biography

Martha Norelius was America's first great female swimmer. She was originally coached by her father, Charles Norelius, who swam for Sweden at the 1906 Olympics. She was the top U.S swimmer from 1924-1929 with her fame resting primarily on her Olympic accomplishments. In 1924 at Paris, she won the 400 metre freestyle event, and in 1928 she defended that championship, winning the final with a world record of 5:42.8. She is the only woman to have defended the 400 metre event at the Olympics. At the 1928 Olympics, Norelius won her third gold medal when she swam on the 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay team. Norelius won 11 individual Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles between 1925 and 1929, and between 1925 and 1928 she set 19 world records and 30 American records. In 1929 Norelius was suspended by the AAU for giving an exhibition in the same pool as some professionals. She therefore decided to turn professional herself and won the $10,000 Wrigley Marathon in Toronto. While there she met Joe Wright, one of Canada's greatest rowers. Wright had won an Olympic silver medal for Canada in the 1928 double sculls, and also played professional football with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Norelius and Wright were subsequently married on 15 March 1930.

Results

Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1924 Summer 15 Paris Swimming Women's 400 metres Freestyle United States USA 1 Gold OR
1928 Summer 19 Amsterdam Swimming Women's 400 metres Freestyle United States USA 1 Gold WR
1928 Summer 19 Amsterdam Swimming Women's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay United States USA 1 Gold WR

Women's 400 metres Freestyle

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank T
1924 Summer 15 Paris Swimming United States Final 1 OR 6:02.2
1924 Summer 15 Paris Swimming United States Semi-Finals Heat Two 2 QU 6:26.6
1924 Summer 15 Paris Swimming United States Round One Heat Two 1 QU 6:23.2
1928 Summer 19 Amsterdam Swimming United States Final 1 WR 5:42.8
1928 Summer 19 Amsterdam Swimming United States Semi-Finals Heat One 1 QU 5:58.0
1928 Summer 19 Amsterdam Swimming United States Round One Heat One 1 QU/OR 5:45.4

Women's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Rank T
1928 Summer 19 Amsterdam Swimming United States USA Final 1 WR 4:47.6