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Obituary Archive

Danish Swimmer Ragnhild Hveger Dies at Age 90


Danish swimmer Ragnhild Hveger, who set 44 world records and won silver in the 400 freestyle at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, has died. She was 90.


Hveger is one of four Danes in the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale. Her career peaked in 1937-43 during the Second World War.


At age 15 and still too young for the 1936 Olympic Games, she won the silver medal behind Holland’s Hendrika Mastenbroek in the 400 meter freestyle in Berlin. Hveger was only one second behind Mastenbroek.


Her timing was incredibly bad in that there was no Olympic competition for a twelve year period from 1936 to 1948, when Hveger was in her prime. Perhaps she could have dominated the 1948 Olympics in which the Danish girls did so well spearheaded by Hall of Famer Greta Anderson, but she was married, retired and out of shape.


But incredibly she returned in 1952 at age 32 to help her team to the Olympic finals in the relays.


Hveger is considered by many to be “the most extraordinary swimmer to have ever existed”. She held World Records in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle and the 200m backstroke. Not until Shane Gould in the 1970’s did any other swimmer come close to setting all the freestyle world records (Gould also set the 100m record).

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