Aquadynamics and the Athletocracy: Jennie Fletcher and the British Women's 4 x 100 metre Freestyle Relay Team at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games
This article considers the part played by aquadynamics, or a concern for the technical properties of swimming costumes, in the career of Jennie Fletcher (1890–1968) who won Britain’s first individual Olympic female swimming medal (bronze) at the Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912 and contributed to the first women’s team gold in the 4 × 100 metre Freestyle Relay. Her light silk one-piece racing swimsuit represented a new kind of modernity: the revealed sporting body enabled competitive principles, rather than modesty, to define the appearance of the female swimmer. The article also examines the place of the working-class competitor in our understanding of the early Games, an ‘athletocracy’ where performance, not background, enabled individuals to compete. The work therefore also explores the relevance of Fletcher’s birthplace, Leicester, in the development of amateur and professional swimming and in the production of swmming costumes for both sport and leisure.
Citation:Williams, J. (2012) Aquadynamics and the Athletocracy: Jennie Fletcher and the British Women's 4 x 100 metre Freestyle Relay Team at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games. Costume, 46 (2), pp. 145-164
Research Group:International Centre for Sports History and Culture
- School of Humanities