Saturday, 12 December 2009

Flying the Flag

Chris at Lazy Swimmer drew my attention to Australian women swimmers at the turn of the last century. I had to include the photo of this feisty pair on my blog. They are Fanny Durack and Mina Wylie, the first women to represent Australia at swimming in the 1912  Stockholm Olympics. Initially they were refused permission to attend, but after some wrangling they were allowed to take part - on condition they paid their own expenses. They organised their odyssey to Europe and went on to win gold and silver medals for their country. 
Mina's love of swimming was obviously a family affair - her father Henry Alexander Wylie was a champion swimmer himself and established Sydney's well-loved ocean pool - Wylie's Baths - in 1907.


  1. Yes, I really like how this photo captures a certain spirit of independence (perhaps even of defiance). The Australian swimming establishment seems to have always had problems with strong independent women. Not only the two above and Annette Kellerman in the early 20th Century, but closer to the modern day too. You may have read my blog about swimming at Balmain Baths which is also called the Dawn Fraser pool. You may know that Dawn Fraser was a very accomplished swimmer who won 8 Olympic golds and swam 27 world record times. She had to quit the sport prematurely however, after being banned for 10 years by Australian swimming officials. Reasons seem to be swimming in a non-official swimsuit (she said the official one was less comfortable) and marching in the opening ceremony without invitation (both at the Tokyo Olympics). More at and

  2. Thanks Chris, I look forward to reading up about Dawn!