Ann Curtis

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Ann Curtis
Ann Curtis 1948b.jpg
Curtis in 1948
Personal information
Full nameAnn Elisabeth Curtis
National team United States
Born(1926-03-06)March 6, 1926
San Francisco, California
DiedJune 26, 2012(2012-06-26) (aged 86)
San Rafael, California
Height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
ClubCrystal Plunge

Ann Cuneo (March 6, 1926 – June 26, 2012) was an American competition swimmer and two-time Olympic champion.

Ann Elisabeth Curtis was born in San Francisco, California, and began swimming at the age of 9 under the teaching of nuns while she and her sister spent two years at the Ursuline Convent boarding school in Santa Rosa.[1][2][3][4] Eventually, she began training under Charlie Sava as a member of the San Francisco Crystal Plunge swimming club.[4] In 1944, at age 18, she became the first woman, as well as the first swimmer, to receive the coveted James E. Sullivan Award, recognizing her as the outstanding American amateur athlete of the year.[4]

Curtis competed at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England, winning a medal in every freestyle swimming race in which women were allowed to enter at the time.[4] She won her first gold medal in the women's 400-meter freestyle, setting an Olympic record on the way to winning by a margin of nearly four seconds. In her next race, she received the silver medal for her second-place finish in the women's 100-meter freestyle, a disappointing finish for her. She would later say she felt like she "had let down the world."[2]

However, her favorite moment of the Games came during the third event, when she won her second gold medal as a member of the women's 4×100-meter freestyle relay team.[2] The United States was not favored to win, in part because she had placed second in the 100-meter individual event. When she took the water for the anchor leg in the relay, the United States team was in third place; she passed Johanna "Hannie" Termeulen of Holland and then Fritze Carstensen of Denmark to win the gold medal for the US by four-tenths of a second, setting another Olympic record in the process.[2] When she returned to San Francisco, she was honored in a parade along Market Street.[5]

During her career she set five world and 56 U.S. records.[4] By the time she swam at the 1948 London Games, Curtis was engaged to be married to Gordon Cuneo, a former basketball player for Cal; they were married in 1949, and she chose not to train for the 1952 Games,[2] also in part because she had accepted a car from the City of San Francisco upon her return from London, which made her a professional swimmer.[1]

In 1959, after retiring from the sport, she opened the Ann Curtis Swim Club and School of Swimming with her husband.[2] She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1966,[6] and the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1983. Curtis died at her home in San Rafael, California on June 26, 2012, aged 86.[7]

Records set in 1943–1944[4]
Date Distance Pool Time Location Record
15 May 1943 220 yd (200 m) short pool 2:32.4 Crystal Plunge National Junior
12 June 1943 100 yd (91 m)   1:02.5 Fleishhacker Pool American
13 June 1943 220 yd (200 m) long pool 2:33.6 Fleishhacker Pool American
30 July 1944 800 m (870 yd)   11:08.6 Fleishhacker Pool World
8 August 1943 440 yd (400 m) long pool 5:25.0 Fleishhacker Pool American
15 August 1944 440 yd (400 m) short pool 5:21.7 Athens Athletic Club National Championship

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chapin, Dwight (April 1, 2001). "'48 Olympian Has Never Strayed Far From Swimming Pool". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Berry, Robyn (August 9, 2002). "Marin swim school a passion for former Olympian/Champ Cuneo has taught kids for 43 years". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  3. ^ Chapin, Dwight (July 11, 2012). "Gold-medalist Ann Curtis Cuneo dies at 86". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Kamiya, Gary (January 30, 2015). "Odd apartments mark pool site where famed female swimmer trained". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 13, 2017. (subscription required)
  5. ^ Crumpacker, John (May 15, 2008). "Filling a fast lane for San Francisco". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  6. ^ "Anne Curtis (USA)". International Swimming Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  7. ^ "Ann Curtis Cuneo Obituary: View Ann Cuneo's obituary". Retrieved July 3, 2012.

External links[edit]