Faith Leech | Australian Olympic Committee

Faith's Story

1941 – 2013

Faith Leech, from Bendigo, Victoria was just 15 years old when she finished third in the 100m freestyle at Melbourne 1956 behind Dawn Fraser and Lorraine Crapp. In the 4 x 100m freestyle relay she teamed with Fraser, Crapp and an even younger Sandra Morgan to become the first Australian women's swimming team to win an Olympic gold medal. Within a few months of the Olympics, and before she turned 16, she retired from competitive swimming and so at her only international swimming competition she had come away with gold and bronze medals.

Leech's success was made even more remarkable by the fact that she took up swimming to help deal with two serious birth defects as a child, having been born with double curvature of the spine and digestive problems that meant she had trouble retaining foods. As there was no pool in Bendigo at the time, her parents drove her to Melbourne once a week to learn to swim.

After retiring, Leech continued to contribute much to the sport of swimming, as a teacher and also through her involvement with the Victorian Paralympics and the Special Olympics. She passed away in 2013, aged 72.

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