Ann Fairlie - world record holder

Ann Fairlie of Johannesburg set three backstroke world records in 1966. She burst into the South African swimming scene at age 13 when she set a South African record for the 100m backstroke in late 1962. At the 1963 South African championships in Pretoria Ann Fairlie became the youngest swimmers to be awarded Springbok colours when she was selected to compete against a visiting Dutch team that year. 

She won this event at the next three South African championships 1963 -1965 - until the great dual with Karen Muir, Cathy Ferguson and Kiki Caron ended her run at Durban  in 1966.

Ann was coached by Cecil Colwin until they she moved to Frank Gray briefly in 1967. She did set a new South African record for the 220 yards freestyle in February 1967, but by then Karen Muir was at the height of her powers, and there was little chance for Ann to win any more South African titles. After nationals in Johannesburg Ann was chosen for the Springbok team in 1967, to swim against the visiting Canadian team, and again to tour overseas in July. She did compete against the Canadians but did not join the Springbok tour to Europe. 

Ann married fellow Transvaal swimmer dr. Otto Thaning, who is famous for being the oldest person to swim the English channel at age 73, in 2014.


On the 11th December 1962, at an inter-district gala at the Hillcrest pool in Pretoria, Ann Fairlie beat the South African record for 110 yards backstroke held by former Olympic record holder Laura Ranwell. Ann's time was 1:14,9, beating Ranwell's record of 1:15,5 by over half a second. Due to the peculairties of South Africa record keeping, Ranwell's time of 1:11,4, which was the equal third place time at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, was not recorded as the South African record.


Ann Fairlie with coach Cecil Colwin
Like Karen Muir, Ann Fairlie never had the opportunity of competing in the Commonwealth or Olympic Games and there is no knowing to what heights this courageous and talented swimmer might have risen if she had had the opportunity of regular international competition. Greater fame and more world records would undoubtedly have come her way if she had not been a contemporary of the legendary Karen Muir. Nevertheless, Ann did break three world records and the rivalry between her and Karen were instrumental in creating a 'golden era' in South African swimming. Technically her backstroke was near perfection and undoubtedly watching and competing against her was of inestimable benefit to Karen.

Like Joan Harrison and Karen Muir, she was also a talented freestyle swimmer and annexed the 110 yards freestyle titles at both 1965 and 1966 South African nationals.

The great rivalry between Ann and Karen is well illustrated by the fact that her world record of 1:08,6 achieved at Kimberley on 21st February 1966 was eclipsed five days later by Karen at Durban with a time of 1:08,3 and reduced to 1:08,0 at the same venue three days later.

The year 1966 stands out as the 'peak' of a great career, for in addition to her three world records, Ann won a 100m freestyle event at Beziers against some of the world's best and then went on to win the American 100m backstroke title in an AAU record time of 1:07,9.

Like Karen, she has been the proud recipient of the State President's Sports Merit Award, an honour thoroughly deserved be a fine swimmer who epitomised all that is best in sport.

Ann with Karen Muir at Durban in 1966, and below - Ann before nationals in 1967. 

In January 1967 Ann Fairlie moves to Kimberley to train with Frank Gray. By the Karen Muir had moved to Pretoria, and Ann had broken with her coach Cecil Colwin.


In February 1968 Ann Fairlie announces her retirement by withdrawing from the South African championships due to begin in March.

Ann Fairlieā€™s first world record - Kimberley, 21 February 1966


Ann Fairlie's second world record - Beziers - 23 July 1966



Ann Fairlie's third world record - August 26, 1966


Ann Fairlie's swimming achievements

Springbok Colours

   

First awarded Springbok Colours aged 13, against Dutch Girls' Tour

1963

 

Springbok Colours vs West German Team

1965

 

Springbok Colours for a tour of Spain and England

1965

 

WORLD  RECORDS

   

110 yards Backstroke

01:08.6

21/02/1966

     

100 metres Backstroke

01:07.4

23/07/1966

     

110 yards Backstroke

01:07.9

26/08/1966


SOUTH AFRICAN RECORDS

   
     

Junior Women's 220 yds

01:16.6

07/12/1962

     

Junior Women's 110 yds Backstroke

   

Junior Women's 100 m Backstroke

01:14.9

10/12/1962

     

Women's 11O yds Backstroke

   

Women's 100 m Backstroke

01:13.0

05/01/1963

     

Junior Women's 110 yds Backstroke

   

Junior Women's 100 m Backstroke

01:13.0

05/01/1963

     

Women's 220 yds & 200 m

02:40.0

01/03/1963

Jnr. Women's 220 yds & 200 m "

   
     

Women's 110 yds & 100 m    "

01:11.3

07/12/1964

     

Women's 110 yds & 100 m    "

01:10.6

12/12/1964

     

Women's 220 yds & 200 m    "

02:37.6

23/01/1965

     

Women's 110 yds & 100 m Freestyle

01:04.0

29/01/1965

     

Women's 220 yds & 200 m Backstroke

02:37.6

26/02/1965

     

Women's 440 yds Indv. Medley

05:45.0

24/01/1966

     

Women's 110 yds Freestyle

01:02.5

27/01/1966

     

Women's 100 m Freestyle

01:02.5

27/01/1966

     

Women's 110 yds Freestyle - S.A.

 

04/03/1966

Championship

01:02.3

 
     

Women'  220yds   Freestyle

02:21.4

27/02/1967

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