Weakened by illness, Britain’s world record holder Irene Gilbert only finished fifth in the 200 metres breaststroke in the 1924 Olympics, but in a major upset her second string Lucy Morton became the first British woman to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual swimming event. Lucy Morton had a long career at the top of British swimming. She won her first Northern Counties title as a 15-year-old in 1913 and three years later set the inaugural world records for both the 150 yards backstroke and the 200 yards breaststroke. After winning both these events when they were added to the ASA championship schedule in 1920, she was denied a chance of Olympic honors as there were no backstroke or breaststroke events for women at the Antwerpen Games.
After a four-year wait, in February 1924 Morton was invited for a trial with the British swimming team for the Paris Games. In an effort to encourage her, Blackpool Council opened their Cocker Street baths, which were normally closed at that time of the year, and Morton trained there daily after finishing work at nearby St. Anne’s Post Office. Lucy was a surprise winner of the breaststroke event in Paris when she broke the monopoly of the American women, who won the other four swimming events and both diving competitions. Morton married Post Office clerk Harry Heaton in 1927. He later went on to become head postmaster at Blackpool, while Lucy became a well-known swimming coach and official.
Athlete Olympic Results Content