Passages: Joan (Langdon) McLagan, Canadian Swimmer from 1936 Olympics, Age 99

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Photo Courtesy: Andy Ross

Passages: Joan (Langdon) McLagan, Canadian Swimmer from 1936 Olympics, Age 99

Canadian Olympic swimmer Joan (Langdon) McLagan died on March 15 at age 99. She was one of only two surviving Olympians from the 1936 Berlin Games.

The death was first reported by Olympedia via the Oldest Olympians project. McLagan is believed to be the second-to-last surviving athlete from the 1936 Games, leaving only American swimmer Iris Cummings. (Coincidentally, both swam the same event in Berlin.)

McLagan was born in California in 1922. She competed in Berlin at just the age of 13, finishing last in her heat of the women’s 200 breaststroke. She had earned the spot by finishing second at Canadian Olympic trials but earning the spot in Berlin after the winner, Monica Trump, wasn’t allowed to travel to Europe by her father. She had already set a Canadian record by that time.

McLagan’s Olympic opportunities were curtailed by the outbreak of World War II, which created a 12-year Olympic hiatus. She continued to compete through 1944, winning the Velma Springstead Trophy as Canada’s most outstanding female athlete in 1942 and 1943. She won a bronze medal in the 220-yard breaststroke at the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney and finished fourth in the 3 x 110-yard medley relay. (This was before butterfly was regarded as a distinct stroke.) McLagan also set what was regarded as a world record in the women’s 50-yard breaststroke in 1940.

Limited to provincial and national competitions, McLagan set records over a variety of disciplines, primarily breaststroke and the individual medley.

McLagan was inducted to the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. Upon her retirement, she became a teacher. She lived in Chilliwack, B.C., at the time of her death.

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