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Norelius, Marthalocked

(20 January 1910–23 September 1955)
  • Bill Mallon


Norelius, Martha (20 January 1910–23 September 1955), swimmer, was born in Stockholm, Sweden, the daughter of Charles Norelius, a swimmer; her mother’s name is unknown. Norelius was originally coached by her father, who swam for Sweden in the 1906 Olympics. After the Norelius family emigrated to the United States, however, Louis de Breda Handley took over as her coach, and Norelius soon made an impact in U.S. swimming circles as the top U.S. swimmer from 1924 to 1929, with her fame resting primarily on her Olympic accomplishments. She won the 400-meter freestyle event in 1924 at Paris, leading an American sweep in an Olympic record time of 6:02.2. In 1928 she defended that Olympic championship at Amsterdam, winning the final with a world record of 5:42.8. The mark broke the world record of 5:45.4, which she had set in winning her heat at the 1928 Olympics. Her 15-second victory margin in 1928 has remained the most dominant Olympic swim victory, as she was the only woman to have defended the 400-meter event at the Olympics. At the 1928 Olympics, Norelius won her third gold medal by participating on the 4 × 100-meter freestyle relay team....

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