ONE OF THE BEST: Rosemary Lassig poses in her Olympic swimmers.
ONE OF THE BEST: Rosemary Lassig poses in her Olympic swimmers.

Bundaberg Olympian was a trail blazer

BUNDABERG has lost one of its sporting greats with Olympic silver medalist Rosemary Lluka (nee Lassig) passing away in Sydney after complications caused by Alzheimer's disease.

Rosemary Lassig was born on August 10,1941, and passed away peacefully in Sydney on November 1.

The red-head beauty was born and raised in Bundaberg.

The daughter of Fred and Linda Lassig, she began her swimming career at eight to manage her asthma.

Her talent was spotted while attending Bundaberg South Primary School and her skills progressed at the Fairymead Swim Club, training at the Anzac Pool under the tutelage of her coach Tom McIntyre.

Mr McIntyre went on to coach her at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

They weren't easy days in the pool either, when Bundaberg Memorial Baths closed for major maintenance, Rosemary's swimming squad had to train in the Elliot River.

Rosemary represented Bundaberg for seven consecutive years from 1954 to 1960 at the state titles and Queensland for five years at the national titles (1956 to 1960).

Along the way she broke an amazing 14 state and nine national records across multiple disciplines.

She became the first Queensland woman to hold a world swimming record by breaking the 110 yards breaststroke record in 1960 with a time of 1.21.22. in the Bundaberg Olympic Pool.

Her breaststroke kick was so powerful that at one time, prior to the Australian trials, a protest was made against her leg action which was eventually cleared.

She then went on to set a second world record the same year in the 4 x 110 yards medley relay at the Australian Olympic teams pre-games training camp in Townsville.

The pinnacle of her career was a silver medal in the inaugural 4x 100M medley relay at the Rome Olympics.

Alongside teammates Dawn Fraser, Marilyn Wilson and Jan Andrew, Rosemary accepted her medal.

Unfortunately in 1960 the Olympic calendar only had five events for women.

Rosemary's pet event, the 110 yards individual breaststroke, was not an Olympic event until 1964.

Rosemary's family said she was always proud of her Bundaberg heritage and had a passion to remain physically active throughout her life.

She was an avid tennis player in Sydney and a keen snow skier in Australia and overseas.

In 2000 she was a torch bearer at the Sydney Olympic Games.

Rosemary's son Guy Lluka said his mother was the most successful Bundaberg athlete of any sporting discipline at a summer or winter Olympics since 1896.

Rosemary is survived by her two children Trudy and Guy Lluka, grandson Max as well as cherished sister to Keith and Margaret Lassig, Ray and Valerie (dec'd) Lassig, Bill Lassig and loved aunt of their respective families.

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