Helene Madison (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1966)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1932 gold (100m, 400m freestyle; 4x100m freestyle relay); WORLD RECORDS: Held all official world records in freestyle in 1932; U.S. NATIONAL RECORDS: 100m, 220yd, 500yd, 800yd freestyle.
Helene Madison, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., 1932 double Olympic champion, has the distinction of having swum way ahead of any other woman at that time. She is the first woman to have swim the 100 yard freestyle in one minute flat. She won every freestyle event in the U.S. Women’s Nationals in 1930, 1931, and 1932, winning high point honors in all three years.
She retired undefeated after the Los Angeles Olympics. Her U.S. National Championship records lasted for many years (100 meter freestyle, 15 years; 220 yard freestyle, 6 years; 500 yard freestyle, 23 years; 880 freestyle, 5 years).
Hall of Famers Helene Madison and Jack Medica were the star swimmers of Ray Daughters at the Washington Athletic Club. Not only did they dominate the freestyle swimming of their era (Helene 1930, 1931, 1932 and Jack 1934, 1935, 1936), but they stood atop the Olympic victory stand during an era otherwise pretty well dominated by the Japanese.
Helene Madison’s three year career was one of the shortest in swimming history but no one else has ever retired with every available goal conquered–all available Olympic freestyle events, all available National Championship events three years in a row and all 17 official World freestyle records in 1932. No other swimmer has been able to equal this record.