Remembering Ann Curtis
Master of the 400 free
1948, 400-meter Olympic champion, multi-U.S. championships
Ann Curtis won more national AAU swimming championships than any other woman. Her incredible 34 national gold medals included eight relays, seven of which she anchored. Only Katherine Rawls won more individual golds, 30 to 26 for Ann, but Rawls' medals included five in diving so Curtis won more for swimming alone. Her medals were all won in the crawl as compared to Rawls in all strokes, and Eleanor Holm's 21 in backstroke and individual medley.
Ann Curtis was the star freestyler of Hall of Fame coach Charlie Sava's Crystal Plunge teams that won nine straight AAU National Women's titles (four indoor and five outdoor) from 1944 through 1948. Curtis was the National Meets High Point Trophy winner seven times, another something no other American girl has ever done.
Cover girl Curtis was on the front of Colliers, Newsweek, and many other magazines, She was in the front of the 400-meter freestyle and the 800-meter freestyle relay, her two gold medals in the 1948 London Olympics. Neither our nationals nor the Olympics had as many events for girls in Ann Curtis' time or her times might have resulted in several other gold medals at London—certainly the 800 meters and probably the 200, at least one of the 400 relays and maybe the 1500.
Ann Curtis was certainly the premier freestyler of her era. She was a middle distance swimmer and not a sprinter, yet she won the U.S. 100-yard, 100-meter crown six times and finished second in the world to the Danish Hall of Famer Greta Andersen in the Olympic 100 meters.
Curtis won all nine of her nationals in the 400 and was undefeated leading up to her Olympic 400 win. She won all her outdoor 800-meter (half mile) races and all her indoor 220's. She won the 1500 meters twice. Her teammates Marilyn Sahner and Joan Mallory won it the rest of the time. Ann Curtis won the Sullivan Award, given once a year to the top amateur athlete in the U.S.A.
An additional article about Ann Curtis Cuneo appeared in a 1996 edition of the "Berkeleyan," University of California at Berkeley. It is titled "She Was Queen of the Crystal Plunge."