13 Years Of American Swimming Dominance Came To An End In 1933, Will They Be Able To Regain It?

Published 01/15/2024, 9:30 AM EST

Follow Us

via Getty

USA Swimming’s inquest for the next world leader is taking shape at the TYR Pro Series. Awaiting the final investiture in the Paris Olympics 2024, the nation’s best swimmers are chasing after a Swede. Sarah Sjöström’s dual world records in 50m and 100m freestyle are pricking at the hearts of the U.S. swimming legends. Could fans witness a resurgence of grace after a century?

America’s Favorite Video Today

In the 1920s, the Bohemian flappers from the United States dominated the swimming scene. Especially in the women’s 100m freestyle, where the consecutive nature of the records elicited frenzied queries about the swimming program. Now, with 2024 goggles on, the past glories have once again become the cynosure on social media.

USA Swimming’s past glories under the microscope

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Co-founder and editor-in-chief of SwimSwam, Braden Keith, rewound the time machine and took everyone on a joyride to the early 1900s. In an X post, the media personality highlighted the achievements of the U.S. swimmers from the bygone era. He wrote, “9 consecutive World Records in the women’s 100 meter freestyle were set by American women from 1920 through 1933 after Australian Fanny Durack held the record from 1912 to 1920”. Ethelda Marguerite Bleibtrey broke the Australian’s streak at the 1920 Summer Olympics. She edged the pool of remarkable challengers in the 100m freestyle and comfortably reset the record with 1:13.6 seconds. Next, it was “America’s best girl”, Gertrude Ederle’s turn to carry the nation’s flag on the world stage. On June 30, 1923, she bettered her predecessor’s record with a swim of 1:12.8.

Mariechen Wehselau (1:12.2), Ethel Lackie (1:10.0), Eleanor Garatti (1:09.8), Albina Osipowich (1:09.4) and Helene Madison (1:06.6       ) were the subsequent torchbearers for the U.S. national swimming program. Braden Keith used Helene Madison’s iconic shot alongside Johnny Weissmuller, underscoring the pivotal moment when the glorious era of USA Swimming began to wane.

Trending

Get instantly notified of the hottest Swimming stories via Google! Click on Follow Us and Tap the Blue Star.

Follow Us

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

America’s loss of the crown

The riveting snap from 1932 caught Helene Madison and Johnny Weissmuller engaged in a friendly conversation. The duo had created many swimming records, and their correspondence inked a new chapter in the history of American Swimming. In 1930 and 1931, Helene Madison had successfully laid down two brand-new records in the 100m freestyle. Therefore, the fans anticipated no less from her at the 1932 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

USA Swimming Coaches Reveal Dark Reality of the Sport; Wish for a Better Hope Before Paris Olympics 2024

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

In a surprising twist, the freestyle swimmer floundered and collided against the lane divider. Notwithstanding this debacle, Madison sailed to the top berth of the podium comfortably. However, she could not reset the world record for the third time, ultimately losing it forever to Netherlands’ Willy den Ouden in 1933. Almost a century later, USA Swimming has yet to recover this honor. Will 2024 be any different?

Watch this story: A Look at the Impeccable Performances of USA’s Power Swimmers Katie Ledecky and Katie Douglass in the World Aquatics Championship 2023

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

Written by:

Anchal Ahuja

860Articles

One take at a time

I am Anchal Ahuja, an Olympic Sports writer at EssentiallySports. My love for sports grew when I first watched Olympics when I was 7-years-old. Growing up as I started to delve deeper into the sporting realm, I decided to move on with my new passion with all new hopes to get success.
Show More>

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

EDITORS' PICK

America’s Favorite Video Today