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Daisy Curwen

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameMargaret "Daisy"•Curwen (-O'Brien,-Wright)
Used nameDaisy•Curwen
Born6 December 1889 in Liverpool, Merseyside, England (GBR)
Died25 June 1982 in Wallasey, Merseyside, England (GBR)
AffiliationsWestminster Ladies Swimming Club, Liverpool (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


Liverpool’s Daisy Curwen went to the 1912 Stockholm Olympics as holder of the women’s world 100 metres freestyle record and, as such, was favourite to win the gold medal. However, fate intervened and she returned home without a medal of any colour.

Curwen broke the world record twice within a year leading up to the Olympics. She set a new mark of 1:24.6 at Westminster Road Baths, Liverpool on 28 September 1911, and at Birkenhead on 10 June the following year, she reduced it to 1:20.6. Having won her opening heat at Stockholm in an Olympic record 1:23.6 Curwen then finished second to Australia’s Fanny Durack, who had broken Curwen’s world record in winning her opening heat, to qualify for the final.

Shortly before the Olympic final, Curwen was rushed to hospital with an appendicitis, and had to undergo emergency surgery and therefore miss the final. Unfortunately for Curwen, her hospitalisation also deprived her a chance of being part of the Great Britain gold-medal-winning 4x100 free relay squad.

Curwen started swimming as a 13-year-old with the Prima Dolphins SC in Liverpool. She won the Liverpool and District 100 yards freestyle title a record 14 consecutive years from 1903-17 (there was no race in 1914). Curwen also won three ASA titles, at 220 yards in 1912-13, and after finishing runner-up in the 100 in 1905, 1911 and 1912, she won the title for the only time in 1913. In addition to her two 100 metres freestyle world records, Curwen also set six world records from 100 to 300 yards. She did not return to competitive swimming after World War I.

Curwen was the daughter of a Liverpool publican, whose establishment was adjacent to the Everton FC ground. Her brother Willie was a three-times Merseyside swimming champion who later became superintendent of the swimming section of the largest sports club in Philadelphia. Another brother, Tom, was killed in action in 1916, and Daisy’s first husband James O’Brien was also killed in action, in 1918.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1912 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) GBR Daisy Curwen
100 metres Freestyle, Women (Olympic) 2 h1 r2/3

Olympic Records

Records may have been broken subsequently during the same competition.
Games Date Sport Event Phase Mark Pos
1912 Summer Olympics 8 July 1912 Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Freestyle, Women Round One, Heat Two 1:23.6 1

Special Notes