At 48.5kg, Violet Walrond was a tiny thing - but she was also New Zealand’s first female Olympian. Not the first to win a medal (that was Yvette Williams) but the first girl to go to the Olympics.
She was also only 14-years-old when selected for the 1920 Antwerp Olympics games. She was 15 by the time the games happened.
Violet Ethel Mary Walrond was born on February 27, 1905, in Auckland to Cecil and Ethel.
Cecil - usually called Tui - was her swimming coach and her chaperone to the games as she was not allowed to go alone.
It took a nine week sea journey - delayed several times by bad weather - for them to arrive.
It was the first official New Zealand team (often New Zealand had been with a joint Australian team) and there was no Olympic uniform. There were only four of them.
The men wore suits and Violet had a cream dress. They did however have the fern leaf on their hats.
Violet was not even able to leave the hotel room by herself and could not go and watch her teammates.
Violet competed in two events, the 100 metre freestyle and the 300 metre freestyle. They were held in an outdoor pool in chilly weather.
She was one of the few using the crawl, a new style that she had copied from a Wellington men’s champion.
In the 100 metre she came fifth and in the 300 she came seventh.
Once the games were over, she set her sights on going to the Paris Olympics in 1924 but it wasn’t to be.
Only three years later, she and her sister Edna - also a competitive swimmer and a top diver - retired on her father’s orders - he didn’t like them in the public eye.
Violet married Harold Robb in 1933 and died 1996 aged 91. She was cremated at Purewa Cemetery.
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