Helene Madison

Helene Emma Madison (June 19, 1913 – November 27, 1970) was an American competition swimmer, Olympic champion, and former world record-holder.

Madison won three gold medals in freestyle event at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, becoming, along with Romeo Neri of Italy, the most successful athlete at the 1932 Olympics: women's 100-meter freestyle, 400-meter freestyle, and 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

She was born in Madison, Wisconsin.

In sixteen months in 1930 and 1931, she broke sixteen world records in various distances. Following the 1932 Olympics she appeared in the films The Human Fish and The Warrior's Husband and hence, as a professional, was not allowed to participate in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. After her swimming career, she had odd jobs as a swimming instructor, department store clerk and a nurse. Divorced three times and living alone, she died of throat cancer in 1970 in Seattle, Washington.

She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1966, and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1992.

By Dean Hanley

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