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Ethelda Bleibtrey

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 3
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 3
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexFemale
Full nameEthelda Marguerite•Bleibtrey (-Schlatke)
Used nameEthelda•Bleibtrey
Born27 February 1902 in Waterford, New York (USA)
Died6 May 1978 in West Palm Beach, Florida (USA)
AffiliationsWomen's Swimming Association
NOC(s) United States

Biography

Ethelda Bleibtrey was the first American woman to win an Olympic swimming title and also the first woman, from any country, to win three gold medals. In each of her Olympic victories in Antwerp, she set a new world record; had there been a backstroke event on the program she almost certainly would have won a fourth gold medal because she was a world record holder in the backstroke at the time. Bleibtrey had a brief career as an amateur before turning pro in 1922, but between 1920 and 1922 she was undefeated and won an AAU title at every distance from 50y to the long distance event. She was often in the news for incidents related to swimming and in 1919 only public opinion prevented her from being jailed for swimming “nude.” She had merely removed her stockings before going for a swim at Manhattan Beach, but in 1919 this was considered “nudity.” In 1928 she did spend a night in jail after swimming in the Central Park Reservoir, but Mayor Jimmy Walker quickly intervened and New York got its first large swimming pool, which was the original object of the publicity stunt. Bleibtrey had a successful career as a pro swimmer, then became a well-known coach in New York and Atlantic City, and later was a nurse in Palm Beach.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) Event Status Team Pos Details
1920 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Freestyle, Women Olympic 1 Gold Representing United States    
  300 metres Freestyle, Women Olympic 1 Gold
  4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay, Women Olympic United States 1 Gold

Olympic Records

Records may have been broken subsequently during the same competition.
Games Date Sport Event Phase Mark Pos
1920 Summer Olympics 23 August 1920 Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Freestyle, Women Semi-Finals, Heat Three 1:14.4 WR 1
1920 Summer Olympics 25 August 1920 Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Freestyle, Women Final 1:13.6 WR 1
1920 Summer Olympics 26 August 1920 Swimming (Aquatics) 300 metres Freestyle, Women Semi-Finals, Heat One 4:41.4 WR 1
1920 Summer Olympics 28 August 1920 Swimming (Aquatics) 300 metres Freestyle, Women Final 4:34.0 WR 1
1920 Summer Olympics 29 August 1920 Swimming (Aquatics) 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay, Women Final Standings 5:11.6 WR 1

Special Notes