Passages: Per-Ola Lindberg, Two-Time Swedish Olympian, Age 82

USA Swimming
Photo Courtesy: Competitor

Passages: Per-Ola Lindberg, Two-Time Swedish Olympian, Age 82

Per-Ola Lindberg, a Swedish swimmer who excelled at the University of Southern California, died on Dec. 19. He was 82 years old.

Lindberg competed in the 1960 Olympics in Rome and the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He won an NCAA title with USC and picked up three European Championships medals, including silver in the 100 freestyle. In his later life, he split his time between Southern California, where he’s listed in the USC record books as Perry Lindberg, and his native Sweden.

Lindberg made finals in three of his four Olympic swims. He finished eighth in the 100 free in Rome in 1960, jumping from 12th in prelims. His finals time of 57.1 seconds was well back a crazy top four separated by four tenths, Lance Devitt of Australia winning in 55.2 despite sharing the same time (and Olympic record) as silver medalist Lance Larson. He anchored the Swedish men’s 800 free relay to sixth place. (In an odd mismatch, there was neither an individual 200 freestyle nor a 400 free relay at the Rome Games.)

Four years later, Lindberg was sixth in prelims of the 100 free but finished 10th in semifinals, missing out on the final by two tenths in 55.1 (i.e., faster than the goal-winning time of four years prior). He anchored the 400 free relay to fifth place with a team-best split of 54.6 (even with Jan Lundin). The Swedes were 1.6 seconds back of bronze medalist Australia.

In between, Lindberg assembled a stellar career for USC. He was a five-time All-American, the capstone coming in his junior year when he won an NCAA title in the 100 free in 1963. His time was 47.1 seconds. He also won Pacific Coast Conference titles in the 50 free and 400 free relay that year and was an All-American in the 400 free relay as a senior in 1964.

Lindberg, a native of Kalmar, won gold in the 800 free relay at the 1962 European Championships in Leipzig, Germany. He anchored the 400 free relay to bronze and won silver in the 100 free in 55.5. Those were the nation’s only three men’s swimming medals at that event.

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