Denise Norton

People of Adelaide

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Denise Norton (1933-) was the first South Australian woman to represent Australia at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

Born in Adelaide, Norton’s career began as a five-year-old splashing around in the shallows of Glenelg Beach where her dad taught her to swim. Aged 15 she competed in the annual “Swim-Through Adelaide” race in the River Torrens/Karrawirra Parri, narrowly missing first place to a man who beat her by just four seconds.

In 1950 Norton won gold in the 4 x 100-yard freestyle relay and bronze in the 440-yard freestyle at the British Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games). Her swimming career peaked when she was selected for the Australian Olympic team at the 1952 Helsinki Games, aged 18.

In 2019 the City of Adelaide named Denise Norton Park/Pardipardinyilla (Park 2), the site of the Adelaide Aquatic Centre, to honour this swimming legend. Pardipardinyilla is the Kaurna word for swimming place.

Celebrating 125 years of women's suffrage in South Australia.

Image: Collection of Denise Norton's family