Lorraine Crapp was a leading member of the Australian swimming team that dominated the sport at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics - and a great early rival of Dawn Fraser. She had been a youthful protégé of Fraser’s mentor Harry Gallagher, but at 16 switched to the coaching of Frank Guthrie. Under him, she set the first of 23 world records in January 1954, and later that year won the Empire Games 110 and 440 yards titles. With Fraser, she set world records during the 1956 national championships, and both hit their best form during winter training with the Olympic squad in Townsville. Coming into the Games they shared the world 100m record, and Crapp held six others over longer distances. In the Olympic 100m final, Fraser beat Crapp in a tight finish, with both under world-record time. Faith Leech made it a 1-2-3 victory for Australia. In the only other individual women’s freestyle event, over 400m, Crapp drew away from Fraser after two laps to win easily in Olympic record time. Fraser finished second.
Australia’s squad of Fraser, Leech, Sandra Morgan and Crapp, swimming in that order, set a world record to win gold in the 4 x 100m relay. That gave Crapp and Fraser each a 1956 haul of two gold medals and a silver. On the eve of her departure for the 1960 Rome Games, Lorraine Crapp married Dr Bill Thurlow, a medical officer attached to the Australian team. She won a silver medal with the 4 x 100m relay team, and retired afterwards.
Harry Gordon, AOC historian