- 10 Aug 1948
- London 1948
Greta Andersen - Swimming
Greta Andersen's sporting origins were unusual. Her father, Carl, was a gymnast who had won a silver medal when representing Denmark in the 1906 Intermediary Games yet Greta's fame came in swimming, where she will go down as one of the most versatile athletes the sport has known.
In 1948, she was specialist at the 100-metre freestyle and was pitched against the American Ann Curtis. At the end, there was just 0.2 seconds between them, with Anderson just touching first. Curtis was to get some measure of revenge, though, at the 4x100m Relay, when Denmark's early lead was cut back on the final leg. Denmark, though, still finished second to leave Andersen with a gold and a silver medal in her possession.
She returned to the Olympic pool in 1952, despite having just undergone surgery on her knee, but her relay team missed out on a medal by a place. By then, though, Andersen's attention had begun to turn away from short distances, and on to vast ones.
This Olympic speedster eventually became one of the world's best known marathon swimmers. Having set a world record for the 100 yards in 1949, she didn't see that broken until 1956, by which time she was setting a world record for swimming 10 miles in California and then a 25-mile record around Atlantic City. She even set a record for covering 50 miles, and earned great renown for setting women's world records for swimming the English Channel in either direction.