The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Elaine Tanner

Swimming

1966


Photograph of Elaine Tanner in the water

Photograph of Elaine Tanner in the water

Date
1960’s
Collection
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

“Mighty Mouse”

“Elaine Tanner, the 15-year-old Vancouver Grade 10 student who came here under the pseudonym of “Mighty Mouse,” leaves with a rightful claim to the title of “Golden Torpedo.” Dunnell, Milt. (1966, August 13). 7-Medal Elaine – She’s Our Best Ever!. Toronto Star, Front Page.

Just prior to leaving for Kingston, Jamaica, for the 1966 Commonwealth Games, a reporter asked Elaine Tanner what she was bringing back, she coyly answered, “a tan!”

The Jamaican sun did shine on young Elaine Tanner, and she brought home a great deal more than a sunny complexion. The versatile swimmer singlehandedly matched the gold medal count by all athletes at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Australia. By the time it was over she had collected four gold and three silver medals and had set two world records in the 220 yard Butterfly and the 440 yard Individual Medley. It was the biggest medal haul by a female swimmer in the 36 year history of the games.

Tanner also took part in another historic moment. After claiming gold in the 4X110 yard relay, she was honoured to stand alongside her teammates and watch the new National Flag of Canada, the Maple Leaf, raised for the very first time at an International Games.

While Elaine captured the hearts of Canadians with her superlative Commonwealth outing she had already made herself known to our neighbours below!

Elaine caused some bewilderment less than four months earlier when she slid into the U.S. National Indoor Swimming Championships in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, as a little known underdog. Neither Elaine nor her beloved coach Howard Firby received funding, so Coach could not make the trip. Determined to go, she went anyway, with only her mother there for support. She promptly sent American swimmers, spectators and the Press into a tizzy by setting two U.S. records that were rewarded with gold medals. She took home a bronze medal to boot. She overheard their chatter…“Who is she…where did she come from?” Even ABC’s Wide World of Sports venerable announcer Jim McKay hunted down the surprising little star of the meet for an interview.

At 96t pounds and well under five feet tall, Elaine’s size belied her stature. With her prowess in the pool she demonstrated just why “Mighty,” preceded “Mouse!”

‘Gee whiz. Me? Winning something that Rocket Richard and those people have won.’ Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

1966
Commonwealth Games, Gold medals – 110yd. butterfly, 220yd. butterfly, 440yd.
1966
Lou Marsh Memorial Award
1966
Bobbie Rosenfeld Award
1967
Pan-American Games, Gold medal, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke
1968
Mexico Olympic Games, Silver medal, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke
1968
Mexico Olympic Games, Bronze medal, 400m freestyle relay