Mina Wylie (AUS)
Honor Swimmer (1975)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1912 silver (100m freestyle); AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: For 20 years in a row she won at least one Australian National Championship; 1911, 1922 and 1924 won all Australian swimming championships in breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle; WORLD RECORDS: (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke).
Harry Wylie could swim 120 yards underwater and he kept his daughter Mina holding her breath almost as long while he decided whether to let her go to the Olympics at age 14. He decided by going with her to the Stockholm 1912 Games where Mina finished second to her Australian teammate Fanny Durack in the 100 meters freestyle.
Before and after those Olympics, 20 years in a row Mina Wylie won at least one Australian National Championship. Three times she won every women’s event at the Australian Championships setting world records in trudgeon freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. In 1910 at Rushcutlers Bay Baths, Mina Wylie set a world record, 1 min. 15 and 4/5 seconds, for the 100 yard freestyle. It beat by 1 1/2 seconds the record of English Hall of Famer Jenny Fletcher who had held the record five years.
Mina Wylie beat Fletcher again at the Stockholm Games but the English Women’s Team won the relay “team race” when the Australians had only 2 girls at the Games. “We wanted to swim twice,” says the crusty Australian, “but they wouldn’t let us do it.”
In 1911, 1922 and 1924, Mina won everything in Australia which included the 100 yard breaststroke, 50 yard backstroke, and the 100, 220, 440 and 880 yards freestyle events. Mina, at age 5, became part of her family’s aquatic act with her father and brothers. Little Mina’s part of the act was to swim with her hands and feet tied. “My father kept me out of trouble by tying me up a little earlier each time we performed,” Miss Wylie laughs. Now in her late 70s, Mina Wylie lives with one of her brothers in their old family home in the “dress circle’ of Coogee-Neptune Street. Her view of more than 40 years overlooks Coogee Bay and “Sunset Strip”, formerly “Wylie Baths”, a family business her father built in 1909 just in time to train his swimming daughter the first of her 20 years as a State and National Champion.