A report from The Goa Spotlight.
The queen of the Central American and Caribbean Games in San Juan in 1966, Ann Lucile “Anita” Lallande, died on December 19, in Annapolis, Maryland.
She was 72 years old.
The decorated ex-athlete died of complications after surgery on one of her legs, it was reported.
Sports historian Carlos Uriarte González confirmed the death of the Puerto Rican legend with several friends of Lallande, especially those they shared with her during her sports career at Caparra Country Club.
Likewise, the president of the Puerto Rican Swimming Federation, Fernando Delgado Sellas, confirmed the death.
“I heard this bad news today from a friend in the United States this morning. Very unfortunate. But the most important thing here is that people meet the pioneers of our sport. The Federation had just been founded and she achieved a deed. unprecedented, with ten gold medals in 1966, something that no one has managed to approach in any other sport in Puerto Rico, “Delgado Sellas told THE SPOKESMAN.
At just 17 years old, Lallande made history for Puerto Rican swimming by winning ten gold medals and two bronze medals in swimming in the 1966 regional tournament.
In two Central American games she accumulated 17 medals, ten gold, three silver and four bronze. She also participated in two Pan American Games and the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Lallande was born in San Juan on June 24, 1949 and began competing in swimming at the age of nine.
Her first participation in an international event representing Puerto Rico was at the age of 13 at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Jamaica in 1962, where she won five medals, three silver and two bronze.
However, her greatest feat was in San Juan 1966, in the Escambrón pool, where she won ten gold medals in 100, 200, 400, 800 meters freestyle, 100 and 200 meters in backstroke, 100 and 200 meters butterfly style and the 4×100 freestyle and medley relays. In addition, she won bronze in the 200 and 400 meters combined.
Thanks to this performance, Lallande became the Puerto Rican athlete with the most gold medals in the history of the Central American and Caribbean Games.
At the age of 16, she participated in the 1964 Olympics and together with Margaret Harding were the first Puerto Ricans to participate in Olympic swimming.
Upon retiring from swimming at the age of 19, Lallande earned a degree in Political Science from Marymount College, according to Uriarte González. She was a columnist and journalist for Fortune, Newseek, and Business Week Magazine.
She was married to Robert Giffen, a senior United States naval officer, limiting her profile to sports and social activities.