Full Name: Rosemary Lassig (Lluka after marriage)
Birth Date: August 10th, 1941
Death Date (if known): November 1st, 2017
Rosemary Lassig (surname Lukka after marriage) was an Olympic swimmer born in Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia on August 10th, 1941. Rosemary began swimming at the age of 8 years old as a way to treat her asthma. Rosemary didn’t just learn how to swim; she also exceeded the expectations of many. After Rosemary’s skills were spotted, she began training with Tom McIntyre at the Fairymead Swim Club. McIntyre would then go on to coach Rosemary at the Olympic level.
Before Rosemary’s Olympic career, she found success on both the state and national level. Between 1958 and 1960, Rosemary had a winning streak in the Australian Championships 100 and 200m breaststroke. Many consider Rosemary’s specialty the 110-yard individual breaststroke event. Although it was not an Olympic event until 1964, Rosemary was the first Queensland woman to set a world record with a time of 1.21.22 for the 110-yard breaststroke. In the same year, Lassig also broke the world record in the 4 x 110-yard medley relay while at the Team Australia training camp.
When Rosemary competed at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, she was 19 years old. Rosemary contributed to the medley relay as a breaststroker alongside Dawn Fraser, Marilyn Wilson, and Jan Andrew. The group of women earned a silver medal with teammates for their tireless and impressive efforts. Along with others, these women opened the door for more women’s events.
In addition to her Olympic success, Lassig broke fourteen state records, nine national records, and her share of world records throughout her career. Rosemary was celebrated for her role in the history of her sport and her significance as an Australian athlete through the honor of bearing the Olympic Torch at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Even after her athletic career had officially “retired” she still maintained an active lifestyle, enjoying tennis and skiing. Rosemary passed in 2017 after her struggle with Alzheimer’s, leaving behind her two children, grandson, siblings, and a legacy as a prominent Australian athlete.