The last time we ran into American swimmer Eleanor Holm, she was being unceremoniously booted off the 1936 Olympic squad for either being catatonically intoxicated or declining to sleep with the president of the American Olympic Committee, kept in mind asshole Avery Brundage. Having actually won gold in women’s 100 m backstroke four years previously in Los Angeles, she was preferred to repeat in Berlin.
The wildest thing about Holm, nevertheless, wasn’t the controversy in Berlin, her numerous (supposedly) riotous affairs or even the movie looks.
Going into the ’32 Olympics, the 100 m backstroke looked like a fight in between Holm, then an increasing star, and the protecting champion, Dutch swimmer Zus Braun. That’s not how things worked out. Here’s what the AP wire needed to state about Holm’s success:
Petite Eleanor Holm, of the New york city Women’s Swimming Association, offered America its 3rd females’s champion by winning the 100- meter backstroke finals from Bonnie Mealing, of Australia, by a foot. Her time of 1.194 was significantly slower than the 1.183 which she set in preliminaries for a brand-new Olympic record.
First of all, the present females’s 100 m backstroke record, set by Reagan Smith in 2019, is now well under a minute. Second, and for our functions far more notably, there’s no Zus Braun in sight.
Braun didn’t emerge again for three weeks, and wasn’t fit enough to travel back house to the Netherlands until mid-October. Here’s one variation of the story, from the Victoria Daily Times:
In the 100- metre backstroke [Braun] won her very first heat in the first round.
Aaaaand here is Braun’s variation of the story, which she informed the Dutch press when she returned house:
It was difficult to swim on the afternoon of the final of the 100 metres backstroke. They offered me extremely hot and extremely cold baths, but that did not assist. I got a heavy fever, 42 degrees[Celsius] A Dutch physician concerned see me and stated that I needed to go to the hospital right away. There, 4 doctors examined my leg. I heard one of them say: ‘However this is not an infection’. They realized that I could comprehend English and walked away to go over the case somewhere else. Unexpectedly, I kept in mind the stab in the swimming stadium and the two American guys It should have occurred there.
Emphasis is mine there, undoubtedly, because THE STAB?! THE TWO AMERICANS ?! Clearly we need more details here.
According to Braun, whose presser was translated by Ruud Paauw in the 2001 Journal of Olympic History, on Aug. 9 she was watching the 400 m males’s freestyle last from an area of stands scheduled for foreign Olympic individuals when she noticed 2 “young Americans” who appeared both out of location and to be monitoring her closely.
Over the course of the next day her leg started seizing up, and by the 12 th– the date of the backstroke final– Braun was in health center.
What about the 2 guys?
Crimes, naturally, need an intention, and in Braun’s version, it’s cash. Obviously– and I’ve tried fruitlessly to validate this in different archives– there was significant money wagered on the 100 m ladies’s backstroke that year, and by eliminating Holm’s closest rival, some people stood to make a great deal of cash.
Is it substantially less plausible that an Olympic swimmer was poisoned to eliminate her from the finals than an Olympics swimmer missing out on the finals through a contaminated insect bite?
Frankly, the story is wild no matter how you take a look at it: either a criminal conspiracy catapulted Eleanor Holm to minor stardom and set her on a path towards both Tarzan’s Vengeance and an altercation with Avery Brundage or an ‘insect bite’ did (with my biology hat on, I ‘d think a spider or maaaaybe a mis-diagnosed staph infection).
Braun, meanwhile, never swam again. And, since there are no time-travelling PIs on the scene, we’ll never really know why.