Host City: Stockholm, Sweden
Venue(s): Swimming Stadium, DjurgÃ¥rden Bay, Stockholm
Date Started: July 8, 1912
Date Finished: July 12, 1912
Women had never competed internationally in swimming prior to the Stockholm Olympics, so it was difficult to choose favorites. The British ASA title had been won in 1909, 1911, and 1912 by Britainâs [Jennie Fletcher]. The world record at the beginning of 1912 was held over 110 yards by [Daisy Curwen] (GBR) with 1:24.6, set in Liverpool on 29 September 1911. In preparation for the Olympics, Curwen herself broke that mark on 10 June 1912, posting 1:20.6 at Birkenhead.
Australia was to be represented by [Fanny Durack] and [Mina Wylie], but not without some effort. Originally the Australian sports authorities did not wish to âwasteâ money on sending women to the Olympics. Finally, the New South Wales Ladiesâ Amateur Swimming Association voted to allow the two to go to the Olympics, providing they paid their own way. A fund was raised which paid Durackâs expenses and Wylieâs family and friends provided her support. Durackâs sister, Mary, served as their chaperone on the long boat trip.
Mina Wylie had been the better of the two swimmers up to a year before the 1912 Olympics, and she had never lost to Durack to that time. But Durack changed to the new crawl stroke, from the Trudgeon, and after that, Wylie never defeated Durack. Prior to the 1912 Olympics, Durack posted world records over 50 yards (27.0), 100 yards (66.0), and 220 yards (2:56.0). In her first round heat at Stockholm, she broke Curwenâs world record for 100 metres with a time of 1:19.8.
The final came down to Durack, Wylie, and Fletcher. Daisy Curwen competed in Stockholm and qualified for the final, but had to withdraw when she was rushed to hospital for an emergency appendectomy. It is unlikely she would have challenged Durack in the final, who won easily in 1:22.2. A few days later, in an exhibition in the Stockholm Swimming Stadium, Durack broke the world record for 300 metres with a time of 4:43.6. She eventually set 11 world records between 1906 and 1921. Although she planned to compete at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, that was derailed when, shortly before the Games, she suffered the same fate as Daisy Curwen, and missed the Olympics recovering from an appendectomy.