As part of the public outrage, a public campaign was started (before Headstart was even invented!) to raised money to send Durack and Wylie to Stockholm – whether the National Swimming Association liked it or not. The message was: if they didn’t want to pay to send women to the Olympics, we don’t need them, we can do it without them, as long as we get a medal.
The money was raised quickly, and the National Swimming Association wasn’t left with any choice but to cancel the ban.
The public outcry only made Durack arrive at the Olympics even more determined. Durack didn’t just win the gold medal, she also set a new world record – and beat her runner-up by three whole seconds. Coincidentally, or not, her runner-up was her Australian competition, Wylie. It turned out that despite the fact that Australia initially didn’t want to send women to the Olympics, it came out of the events with a gold and silver medal. All in all, Australia returned from the Olympics with 7 medals. With the exception of one tennis medal, they were all from swimming events.
Durack kept her position at the top of the international swimming charts, even after the Olympics. She set 12 world records between 1912 and 1918. The Australian record that she set during those years was 52 seconds faster than the men’s record at the time.
In 1920, shortly before the Antwerp Olympics, she underwent a surgery to remove her appendix. While recovering from the surgery, she became ill with typhus and pneumonia (which wasn’t caused by Coronavirus). She didn’t have any choice but to cancel her participation in the Antwerp Olympics, which prevented her from winning any additional Olympic medals. She retired from competitive swimming a year later.
After she retired, she became a swimming coach, and died of cancer in 1956. Over the years, she was inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame. In 2000, the Olympics came to Sydney, and one of the streets in the city’s Olympic Park was named Sarah Durack Avenue, in her honor. Not bad for someone Australia initially didn’t want to be represented in the Olympics by.