Olga Dorfner (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1970)
FOR THE RECORD: WORLD RECORDS: 200m freestyle (1918); 100yd freestyle (1918); AMERICAN RECORDS: 40yd, 50yd, 60yd, 80yd, 100yd, 220yd freestyle; NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 50yd freestyle (1916); 100yd freestyle (1916, 1917, 1918); 220yd, 440yd freestyle (1917).
Olga Dorfner was a Philadelphia beauty who brought glamour to the World of Swimming. She was featured in “Vanity Fair” and in the Sunday supplements as the cover girl bathing queen of her day. What Claire Galligan was to early distance swimming. Olga Dorfner was to the sprints. When the two met at the middle distances, all of New York and Philadelphia turned out to see the splash, each winning a 220 in their celebrated duels. Olga Dorfner set a World Record for the 200 meters freestyle in a 100 yard course at Alameda, California on July 21, 1918. That year she and Hall of Famer Duke Kahanamoku were picked as swimmers of the year in the year-end newspaper polls. Her 100 yard freestyle time of that year, 1:06.2, was also hailed as a World Record.
Miss Dorfner was the star of the Philadelphia Turngemeinde, a remarkable group of lady swimmers that included Jack and Grace Kelly’s mother, Margaret, double Olympic winner and Hall of Famer Betty Becker, and 1917 Outdoor 100 yard freestyle champion Gertrude Artelt. This group of beauties, coached by Hall of Famer Fred Cady, a former circus strongman and artist, were the principal rivals of Hall of Famer L. deB. Handley’s New York Women’s Swimming Association. Frequently who won the big ones depended on whether the judges were home or neutral. Under the circumstances of this rivalry. Miss Dorfner cherished most her letters of congratulations, encouragement to break world records and coaching tips from deB. Handley.
Miss Dorfner at various times was this country’s fastest at 40, 50, 60, 80, 100 and 220 yards. She won Nationals in the 50 (1916) in 30.2 seconds, the 100 (1916, ’17, ’18) and the 220 and 440 in 1917. As with her chief rival, New York’s Claire Galligan, Olga Dorfner missed out on a chance at the Olympics due to war (1916) and matrimony (1920).