On the eve of this summer’s Olympics, some Greenbrier Countians may recall the time they were taught by former Olympian Katherine (Katy) Rawls to swim and dive. Rawls, who dominated women’s swimming in the 1930s, was the swimming instructor and pool manager at The Greenbrier for twenty years. She offered lessons to local children. Growing up in Florida, Rawls set a new world record in the 300-meter individual medley when she was 14. She was the first athlete to win four national swimming championships at a single meet in 1937 in the 440- yard, 800-yard, one-mile free style and individual medley. She took silver and bronze medals at the 1932 and 1937 Olympics. Undoubtedly, she would have won a gold medal in the individual medley, but the event was dropped from the program.
Following her career as a competitive swimmer, Rawls became an aviator and was one of the first 25 women to join the Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron (WAFS). During World War II, she ferried planes to combat zones for the Air Transport Command. She began working at The Greenbrier after the war. Rawls died from cancer in 1982 in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Photo: From Wikimedia.
Sources: Ft. Lauderdale News, New York Times, Wakulla Area Times, www.olympics.com