SPORTS

Former Olympic swimmer and Pan Am Games champ Elizabeth Whittall dies at age 78

05/01/2015 07:31 EDT | Updated 05/01/2016 05:12 EDT
CALGARY - Elizabeth Whittall, who won two swimming gold medals at the 1955 Pan American Games and represented Canada at the Summer Olympics the following year, has died. She was 78.

Her death was confirmed Friday in a statement by Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, which plans to induct her into its Legends Class later this year.

"Canada's Sports Hall of Fame is deeply saddened by the death of Beth Whittall, a legendary Canadian swimmer," said Mario Siciliano, president and CEO of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. "Our sympathy goes out to all of her family at this difficult time. Beth was preparing to be officially inducted in Canada's Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony to be held in Calgary on June 17, 2015. Beth was informed only days before her passing that she was to receive Canada's highest sporting honour and was very humble and honoured to be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

"Beth's posthumous induction will proceed as planned so that her tremendous contribution to her sport and country will be shared with future generations of Canadians."

Whittall set several Canadian swimming records throughout her long and successful career. She was only 17 when she won the silver medal in the 4x100-yard freestyle relay at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

In 1955, she won four medals at the Pan Am Games in Mexico City. She took gold in the 400-metre freestyle and 100-metre butterfly events and added silver in the 4x100 freestyle and 4x100 medley relays.

Whittall represented Canada at the 1956 Summer Games in Melbourne and retired the following year.

There was no immediate word on the cause of death or funeral arrangements.

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