Lorraine Crapp (AUS)
Honor Swimmer (1972)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1956 gold (400m freestyle; 4x100m freestyle relay), silver (100m freestyle); 1960 silver (4x100m freestyle relay); WORLD RECORDS: 23 (110yd, 200m, 400m, 440yd, 800m, 880yd freestyle).
Lorraine Crapp, with 23 world records, was and is the first great swimmer of the modern era of Australian swimming; this in spite of the fact that her style resembled the traditional body flat on the water, six-beat kick American crawl that the Australians were replacing with their rolling perpetual motion center line crawl with a two-beat kick.
Miss Crapp burst into prominence in 1954 with her eleven-minute 880, and heralded the coming of a new wave of Aussie world record swimmers to dominate their own 1956 Melbourne Olympics. In 1954 at fifteen she won two gold medals at the Vancouver British Commonwealth and Empire Games. These were the same games that featured Track’s “Mile of the Century” with England’s Roger Banister, and Australia’s John Landry. She added silver and bronze Empire medals in 1958.
At one time, Lorraine Crapp held all recognized long-course world records in freestyle, from 100 meters to the half-mile. She was the first woman in the world to break five minutes for 400 meters. In the 1956 Olympic Games, she won two golds, a silver, and a bronze medal, adding another silver at Rome in 1960.
Lorraine Crapp’s greatest period of swimming achievement has to be the period just prior to the 1956 Olynpics when she broke eighteen world records during training. In one afternoon, Oct. 20, 1956, Lorraine broke 6 world records. This was the second time in her career that she set four world records in one race by establishing the zoom, 220 yds., and 400m freestyle records on her way to a world busting 440 yd. record. By the end of 1956, she held world records for 100 yards, 200 meters, 400 meters, 440 yards, 800 meters, and 880 yards. Her swimming career lasted 10 years, from 1950 to 1960. She later married Dr. Bill Thurlow, a physician most interested in physiological testing, especially on their four age-group swimming children.