Helene Madison

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 3
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 3
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameHelene Emma•Madison
Used nameHelene•Madison
Born19 June 1913 in Madison, Wisconsin (USA)
Died25 November 1970 in Seattle, Washington (USA)
AffiliationsWAC, Seattle (USA)
NOC United States


Helene Madison was born in Wisconsin but, while still a child, her family moved to Seattle where she had her first success as a competitive swimmer, winning the Northwest High School Championship in 1928. In the early 1930s she dominated women’s freestyling to an extent that is rarely seen at the highest levels. Swimming for the Washington AC, she won every AAU freestyle title in 1930, 1931, and 1932 with the solitary exception of the 1932 100m, in which she did not compete. She set a total of 26 world records, three of which came at the 1932 Olympics, and although she retired after the Los Angeles Games, many of her records remained on the books for years to come. After giving up amateur swimming, Helene Madison had a brief fling at a Hollywood career, playing a minor role in the film, “The Warrior’s Husband.” She had a similar lack of success as a nightclub entertainer and, after the failure of three marriages, she lived alone in Seattle and in her later years particularly regretted that she had not succeeded in her ambition to become a registered nurse.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1932 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) USA Helene Madison
100 metres Freestyle, Women (Olympic) 1 Gold
400 metres Freestyle, Women (Olympic) 1 Gold
4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay, Women (Olympic) United States 1 Gold

Special Notes