Chris von Saltza

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameSusan Christina "Chris"•von Saltza (-Olmstead)
Used nameChris•von Saltza
Born13 January 1944 in San Francisco, California (USA)
Measurements178 cm / 63 kg
AffiliationsSanta Clara SC, Santa Clara (USA)
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 3
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 4


After winning five golds at the 1959 Pan American Games, 100 m freestyle, 200 m freestyle, 400 m freestyle, 4×100 m freestyle (with Molly Botkin, Joan Spillane, and Shirley Stobs), 4×100 m medley (with Carin Cone and the non-Olympians Anne Bancroft and Becky Collins), Chris von Saltza lived up to her advance billing by taking three Olympic golds in 1960. Her 400 m freestyle victory ended the long-standing Australian domination of this event, but her victory at Rome was not unexpected because at the U.S. Trials she had set a world record of 4:44.5 to become the first American woman to break the five-minute barrier. Von Saltza swam for the Santa Clara SC and led them to many team victories at the nationals, in addition to winning 19 individual AAU titles.

After she retired from competitive swimming, she entered Stanford, majoring in Asian history. In 1963-64, while on a state department grant, she served as a coach/consultant in Asia with the American Specialist Program. She later taught swimming in Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Von Saltza served the U.S. women’s swim team as an assistant coach/chaperone at the 1968 Olympics. Her business career was as a systems engineer for IBM for 30 years, and later with her own technology and business consulting company. Miss Von Saltza was more properly the Baroness von Saltza as her grandfather, Count Philip, came to America at the turn of the century and she is still recognized by her titled name in the Who’s Who of Swedish Nobility.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1960 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) USA Chris von Saltza
100 metres Freestyle, Women (Olympic) 2 Silver
400 metres Freestyle, Women (Olympic) 1 Gold
4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay, Women (Olympic) United States 1 Gold
4 × 100 metres Medley Relay, Women (Olympic) United States 1 Gold

Special Notes