vintage, nostalgia and memories

April 16, 2017

In 1954, This 9-Week-Old Baby Became the 'World's Youngest Swimmer'

The "world's youngest swimmer," 9-week-old Julie Sheldon, cruises underwater next to her grandmother, Mrs. Jen Loven, a children's swimming instructor in 1954 Los Angeles. (Ed Clark—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

In January 1954, LIFE magazine introduced its readers to a remarkable nine-week-old baby named Julie Sheldon, who lived in Los Angeles and was, according to LIFE, the "world's youngest swimmer." Coached by her grandmother, a children's swimming instructor, "Julie practices once a day," LIFE wrote, "faithfully following her morning nap with a 20-minute dip."

A year-and-a-half later, in June 1955, LIFE published a follow-up story on Julie, lettings its readers know that the then-19-month-old had moved on from mere swimming to intently playing with toys—from a tricycle to a teeter-totter—that her grandmother kept "on the bottom in the 4-foot depths" of the pool.


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