Jenny Turrall is one of Australia’s most under rated swimmers of the last 30 years.
Although never capturing an Olympic medal -she was on the 1976 Montreal team and finished 8th in the 800m freestyle final -Turrall has the honour of being Australia’s youngest ever gold medallist at a Commonwealth Games. She won the 400m freestyle at the 1974 Christchurch British Commonwealth Games swimming a time of 4 min 22.09 seconds. This was a Games record and she was just 13 years and eight months when she accomplished this! She also won three silver medals, in the 800m, the 200m freestyle, and the 4x100m freestyle relay.
Prior to the Games, in 1973, Turrall burst on to the scene and set a new world record for the 1500m freestyle, swimming 16:49.90. She then broke this record four times, in January 1974 with 16:48, July 1974 with 16:43, August 1974 with 16:37, then 16:33.
In 1974, while still aged 13 she established a new world record for the 800m freestyle of 8:50.10. Then in April 1975 she lowered that time substantially to 8:43.48.
In 1974, she won two gold medals (400m and 800m freestyle) at the Coca Cola Championships in England, one gold at the French National Championships (400m), and two golds at the Italian National Championships (400m and 800m). At the USA National Championships she won the 1500m and 200m freestyle and won silver in the 400m freestyle, becoming the first Australian woman to win a USA national title.
Perhaps Jenny Turrall’s greatest victory came in 1975. At the second World Championships held in Cali, Colombia, where she won the 800m freestyle making her Australia’s only gold medallist at the championships and Australia’s first female world champion. Her time was 8:44.75, a time still respectable today. In Cali, she also finished second in the 400m freestyle.
In Australian championships she won eight gold and four silver medals from 1974 to 1976. In 1974 she won on the 400m, 800m and the1500m freestyle and took silver in the 400m individual medley and the 200m freestyle. In 1975 she defended her three titles and won silver in the same events. In 1976 she won the 800m and the 1500m titles. She dominated the New South Wales championships in 1974 and 1975 winning the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle titles each year.
Suffering from shoulder problems, she retired in 1976 after the Olympics.