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Dennis, Clare (1916 - 1971)

Commonwealth or Empire Games Gold Medalist, Olympian and Swimmer
Alternative Names
  • Dennis, Clara (legal name)
  • Golding, Clara (married name)


Clare Dennis dominated breast-stroke swimming from 1931 to 1935, becoming the first Australian woman to win a gold medal in the British Empire Games in 1934. An outstanding junior swimmer, she broke the world record at 15 years of age in the 220 yards breast-stroke, ensuring her selection in the team to represent Australia at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She was the youngest member of the team, but still came home with the gold medal in her event - the first female Olympic Champion since Fanny Durack in 1912 and the last Australian swimmer, male or female to win Olympic Gold until 1956. She was the youngest Australian to win Olympic Gold until Shane Gould in 1972. She was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.



Gold Medalist at the Los Angeles Olympic Games - Swimming - 200m backstroke
Gold Medalist at London Empire Games - Swimming - 200y Breaststroke

Sources used to compile this entry: Raszeja, V. M., 'Dennis, Clara (Clare) (1916-1971)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,; Vamplew, Vray; Moore, Katharine; O'Hara, John; Cashman, Richard; Jobling, Ian (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Australian Sport, Revised Second edn, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1997.

Nikki Henningham

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ISSN 2207-3124