Sylvia Ruuska

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Sylvia Ruuska
Personal information
Full name Sylvia Eliina Ruuska
National team  United States
Born (1942-07-04) July 4, 1942 (age 74)
Berkeley, California
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight 139 lb (63 kg)
Sport Swimming
Strokes Freestyle, individual medley
Club Berkeley YMCA

Sylvia Eliina Ruuska (born July 4, 1942) is an American former competition swimmer, Olympic medalist, and former world record-holder in two events.

At the age of 14, Ruuska won two medals at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.[1] She captured a silver medal by swimming for the second-place U.S. team in the women's 4×100-meter freestyle relay.[1] Individually, she also received a bronze medal for her third-place finish in the women's 400-meter freestyle.[1]

On June 27, 1958, she became the first woman to set an official world record in the 400-meter individual medley, clocking 5:46.6. Ruuska subsequently broke her own 400-meter record three times in 1958 and 1959, ultimately lowering the world mark to 5:40.2 on July 17, 1959. She also set a new world record of 2:43.2 in the 200-meter individual medley on August 16, 1958, and breaking her own record with a time of 2:40.3 on January 14, 1959. Both her 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley world records were later broken by Donna de Varona. At the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago, she won a silver medal for her second-place showing in the 400-meter freestyle (5:03.4), finishing behind fellow American Chris von Saltza (4:55.9).

At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy, Ruuska swam for the gold medal-winning U.S. team in the preliminary heats of the women's 4×100-meter freestyle relay.[1] Under the international swimming rules in effect in 1960, she did not receive a medal because she did not swim in the event final.

Ruuska was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1976.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d, Olympic Sports, Athletes, Sylvia Ruuska. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
  2. ^ International Swimming Hall of Fame, Honorees, Sylvia Ruuska (USA). Retrieved October 10, 2012.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Becky Collins
Women's 200-meter individual medley
world record-holder (long course)

August 16, 1958 – May 13, 1961
Succeeded by
Donna de Varona
Preceded by
Women's 400-meter individual medley
world record-holder (long course)

June 27, 1958 – July 15, 1960
Succeeded by
Donna de Varona