Sydney’s Mina Wylie is best remembered as the first Australian woman to win a silver medal in Olympic swimming, She achieved this at the 1912 Olympics, where she came second to Australian Fanny Durack, the first Australian woman to win a gold medal in Olympic swimming.
Mina came from a family of swimmers and was a more than competent swimmer by the age of five. Her father H. A. Wylie created and operated Wylies Baths at Coogee and both her father and her brothers gave exhibitions of ‘trick and fancy swimming’ at Sydney swimming carnivals.
After being defeated by Mina Wylie in the 100 yards breaststroke and the 100 yards and 220 yards freestyle at the Australian Championship in 1910-11, Fanny Durack began practising the new Australian Crawl stroke. Mina then also switched to the crawl stroke.
Public demand for Fanny and Mina to compete in the 1912 Olympic Games held at Stockholm led the New South Wales Ladies Amateur Swimming Association to change the rule which forbade their members to appear in competitions when men were present. Fanny and Mina had to raise their own funds to cover their involvement in the Olympics and be accompanied by an appropriate chaperone. Mina’s father went with her to the 1912 Olympics.
Mina Wylie and Fanny Durack later toured the United States in 1919.
A statue of Mina Wylie by Eileen Slarke now stands at Sydney’s Wylies Baths.
Canberra has a street named after Mina Wylie.
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