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Swimming at the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Games:

Women's 200 metres Breaststroke

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Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Olympic Park Swimming Stadium, Los Angeles, California
Date Started: August 7, 1932
Date Finished: August 9, 1932

Gold: AUS Clare Dennis
Silver: JPN Hideko Maehata
Bronze: DEN Else Jacobsen

Summary

The one Olympic swimming title that did not go to either Japan or the United States fell to sixteen year old Clare Dennis of Australia. Clare’s older sister Thora had been picked for the 1928 Olympic team but was prevented from competing on the grounds that she was too young to travel overseas. Any possibility that the Australian authorities would reach a similar decision about Clare was removed when she set a world record in early 1932. The young Australian still had the cost of the trip to America to worry about but her journey was eventually financed by colleagues of her late father in the Sydney police. One swimmer who did not make the trip to the USA was Lisa Rocke of Germany who, despite having beaten the Aussie’s world record earlier in the summer, was not selected by Germany. Clare Dennis was ill on arrival in California, suffered a toe injury before the heats and then, after cruising into the semi-final, suffered an anxious wait as officials debated whether to disqualify her from wearing an “inappropriate swimsuit”, the debate centring on how much of the shoulders she was allowed to expose. After being cleared of any misdemeanour, she swam in the final and kept a narrow lead throughout the course of the race. At the end she finished .1 of a second ahead of Hideko Maehata, Japan’s first female swimming medallist, to become Olympic champion. Dennis latter married George Golding, who represented Australia in athletics at these same Olympic Games.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Clare Dennis 16 Australia AUS Gold OR
2 Hideko Maehata 18 Japan JPN Silver
3 Else Jacobsen 21 Denmark DEN Bronze
4 Margery Hinton 17 Great Britain GBR
5 Peg Hoffman 21 United States USA
6 Ann Govednik 16 United States USA
7 Jane Cadwell 17 United States USA
3 h1 r1/2 Dorothy Prior Canada CAN
3 h2 r1/2 Cecelia Wolstenholme 17 Great Britain GBR
4 h2 r1/2 Janet Sheather 19 Canada CAN
4 h3 r1/2 Maria Lenk 17 Brazil BRA