Puerto Rico swimming legend dies

Ann “Anita” Lallande passed away on Sunday December 19 in Annapolis, Maryland, of complications from surgery to treat a broken leg. He was 72 years old.

Anita Lallande, as she was known, represented Puerto Rico in two Pan American Games and one Olympic Games. To date, she continues to hold the record for the most swimming medals won by a Puerto Rican swimmer (male or female) -17 medals (10 gold, three silver and four bronze) – in Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) .

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she began swimming at the age of eight for the Caparra Country Club team. He began to compete internationally at the age of 13, in the IX CAC of 1962 in Kingston, Jamaica; There he was awarded five medals.

Lallande’s historical harvest was 12 medals in the X CAC of San Juan 1966. There she was the winner in four freestyle events: the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meters. In addition, gold was hung in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke as well as in the 100 and 200 meter butterfly stroke, and in the 4×100 meter freestyle and 4×100 meter medley relays. As if that were not enough, in those Central American and Caribbean Games held in his own courtyard, he also won bronze medals in the 200 and 400 meters combined.

Also, the speedy mermaid nicknamed ‘La Lancha’ competed in three events in Tokyo 1964 when she was just 15 years old. She and Margaret Harding were the first female swimmers to represent Puerto Rico at an Olympic Games. Anita competed in the 100-meter freestyle, 400-meter freestyle, and 100-meter butterfly; he would not advance out of the qualifying heats in any of the three events.

He would study political science at Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY. He returned to the Island of Enchantment for two years only to teach high school and then moved to the United States for the rest of his life.

Lallande began her journalism career in New York City. He wrote for such magazines as Newsweek, Fortune, and Business Week.

She married the love of her life, Robert C. Giffen, III, a Naval officer, and the couple first lived in Alexandria, VA. Given the frequent moves required by her husband’s career, and the births of their children Kyle and Nicole, she would limit herself more to being a freelance journalist.

With her characteristic dedication, Anita served from 1993 to 2001 as a consultant to Carlos Romero Barceló, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico to the United States Congress.

The great Puerto Rican swimmer Anita Lallande retired from the pool at the young age of 18 years old. How much more could he have achieved with a longer sports career? It’s hard to guess, but the truth is that more than half a century later, his feats, his brands and his legacy still impress.