Dolfin Swim of the Week: Shane Gould’s First WR Came On This Day in 1971

Disclaimer: Dolfin Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The  Dolfin Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Australia’s Shane Gould is still the only person in history to hold world records in the 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 freestyles at the same time. And she nabbed the first of those records on this day in 1971.

At the Coca Cola International in London, England, the 14-year-old Gould went 58.9 to tie the standing world record in the 100-meter freestyle. Gould tied fellow Aussie Dawn Fraserwho had become the first person under 59 seconds seven years prior.

The very next day, Gould would show her range, adding the 200 free world record in 2:06.5. She’d break the 400 free record later in 1971, going 4:21.2 at the Santa Clara Invitational in July. Distance freestyle only eluded her until late in the year, when she went 8:58.1 in the 800 on December 3 and 17:00.6 in the 1500 a little more than a week later.

That means over a six-month span in 1971, Gould broke world records in all five freestyle races from 100-meters to 1500 meters – like Thanos, steadily and inevitably collecting infinity stones.

At the Olympic Games in the summer of 1972, Gould added the 200 IM world record record (2:23.07), but by that point, she had lost the 200 and 800 free records to Americans Shirley Babashoff and Jo Harshbarger, respectively. Gould did strike back at the 200 free, blasting a 2:03.56 late in the 1972 Olympics to take nearly two seconds off of Babashoff’s record.

That would be Gould’s longest-standing world record, lasting until August of 1974.


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1 year ago

She was one of the best! Had a relatively short career and retired at 16 with 5 Olympic individual medals from Munich.

1 year ago

She’s very intelligent too. Also , she won Australian Survivor with a very clever strategy and she always has an interesting take on things . . I could listen to her talk for hours .

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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