Hendrika Mastenbroek (NED)
Honor Swimmer (1968)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1936 gold (100m, 400m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay), silver (100m backstroke); WORLD RECORDS: 9 (6 backstroke, 3 freestyle); EUROPEAN CHAMPION: 1934.
In the chronology of great women’s Olympic swimmers, the International Swimming Hall of Fame has recognized the freestyle star of the 1912 Games, Fanny Durack, 1920 Ethelda Bleibtrey, 1924 – ’28 Martha Norelius, 1932 Helene Madison, 1948 Ann Curtis, 1956 Dawn Fraser and 1960 Chris von Saltza. None of these immortals was any more dominant than the Dutch star, Hendrika “Rie” Mastenbroek, sensation of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. 1968 honoree Mastenbroek won 3 gold medals in 100 meter freestyle, 400 meter freestyle and anchoring the 4×100 meter freestyle. She missed a fourth gold medal by 3/10 opf a second to teammate Nida Senff in the 100 meter backstroke. Mastenbroek’s 3 golds and a silver have since been tied by Sharon Stouder at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics but no woman has ever topped the total. Miss Mastenbroek, as the outstanding swimmer of her time, held 9 world records, 6 in backstroke and 3 in freestyle. Ironically, there was no medley relay in the Olympics until 1960 or Mastenbroek rather than Schollander would have been the first swimmer to win 4 gold medals in a single Olympic Games.
Some credit for this must go to relays and to the strong Dutch team that dominated the 1936 Olympics; Willy den Ouden, Nida Senff, Jopi Selbach, Tina Wagner and Johanna Waalbert. All but Waalberg were gold medal winners. They trained in the canal for distance and the pool for sprint work. Rie Mastenbroek’s coach was Hall of Famer Ma Braun in Rotterdam. Miss Mastenbroek’s career was as short as it was sensational. In 1934, her first year beyond Rotterdam regional championship, she was proclaimed European champion and No. 1 woman swimmer in Europe. By 1936 she was, of course, No. 1 swimmer in the world. She is currently a housewife and mother of 3 living and working in Amsterdam.