NORTH SMITHFIELD – A former olympian and three-time national champion, who set hundreds of national and world swimming records, died this week at an assisted living facility in North Smithfield this week at the age of 94.
Clara Lamore Walker swam for the U.S. at the 1948 Olympic Games in London participating in the 200-meter breaststroke at the age of 22. According to her biography on the International Swimming Hall of Fame website, she swore after her last heat that she was giving up competitive swimming for good.
Walker took a job with the telephone company, joined a cloistered religious order, became one of the first women to graduate from Providence College, and worked as an English teacher and guidance counselor in Cranston schools.
She didn’t swim again until the age of 54, when her doctor recommended it to relieve back pain.
Walker set a national record in the 50-yard breaststroke in the 50-54 age group in her first meet, which reportedly inspired her to start training again.
Over the years that followed, she set 184 world records and 468 national records as a masters swimmer.
She was married to the late Naval officer Doneal Walker, who died in the 1970s.
In 1973, Walker received a bachelor’s degree in secondary special education from Providence College, and she completed her master’s of education from the school in 1978.
Walker was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1968.
Walker died Friday, April 2 of natural causes.
Funeral arrangements are pending.