Anna McCleary Marriott – Honor Athlete

As early as 1921 (at age 15) we have a certificate of excellence for Anna McCleary in the 1921 outdoor season of the Public School Athletic League in Baltimore, MD.

Names and pools forgotten by many today are reborn as we follow Anna McCleary’s two-decade long career in swimming. Crowds of up to 10,000 spectators attended meets at Clifton Park, Patterson Park and Lakewood. Teams such as the Maryland Swimming Club, Bay Shore Swimming Club, Collegiate Swimming Club, Patterson Park and Baltimore YWCA in the early twenties gave way to Knights of Columbus, Meadowbrook and Lakewood Clubs of the thirties. Teams from the Police and Postal Service, cheered on by their leaders such as Postmaster Woelper, made adult attendance at swim meets a must. Swimming parents must have been a bit older!

Anna McCleary swam for the Maryland Swimming Club in the twenties and later for the Lakewood Club in the thirties. Pool lengths varied, but Miss McCleary’s command of swimming events, particularly the Backstroke, never deviated. In 1922 Anna was “Miss Maryland” in the Baltimore News Druid Hill Meet. In 1923 she was congratulated by a U.S. Senator for her feats at Patterson Park.

In 1924, then 18, she was chosen to go to the Olympic Team Swimming Trials in Briarcliff Lodge, NY. But once there she developed tonsillitis and was unable to compete. Swimming experts who had seen Miss McCleary break records at South Atlantic Meets, however recognized her as one of the finest Backstrokers in the country. Because of these records she was chosen to travel to Paris with the Olympic Team. Once in Paris she again was taken ill and unable to compete.

Unlike most Olympic swimmers, Anna McCleary Marriott continued to reach a new peak every year, in fact, for the next fifteen years. In 1928 at the Evening Sun Meet she dropped her time from 39 to 38 seconds for the 50 yard Back. By 1939, swimming in the same meet as her fourteen year-old-son, she was swimming the 100 Back ten seconds faster than her 1924 time.

After years of dominating swimming meets, Mrs. Marriott became a life master of duplicate bridge. She raised two children, survived two husbands and reigns forever as Maryland’s first Olympian.