Only 17 years of age, Rie Mastenbroek was second only to Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in terms of medals won, and she was named the “Empress of Berlin.” Mastenbroek competed in four of the just five events on the women’s swimming program, and won the 100 freestyle, 400 freestyle and 4 x 100 free relay, while placing second in the 100 metre backstroke. That last event was not only remarkable for Mastenbroek losing to compatriot Nida Senff, but also for the fact that Senff had missed the turning point and had to swim back to touch the wall. She nevertheless caught up with Mastenbroek and passed her to win the gold. Two years earlier, Mastenbroek had competed in the same four events at the European Championships in Magdeburg, and had won the same four medals – the only difference being that she won the backstroke, but lost to another compatriot (Willy den Ouden) in the 100 free.
After her Olympic exploits, Mastenbroek started working as a swim teacher, which according to the day’s stringent amateur regulations disqualified her as an amateur. During her short career, she had won four Dutch titles (400 m free in 1934-35, 100 m free and 100 m back in 1936), and had set nine new world records, in the backstroke (100 m, 200 m, 400 m) and freestyle (440 y, 4 x 100 m). Mastenbroek was later honored with induction into the Swimming Hall of Fame (1968) and received the Olympic Order in Silver in 1997.