Nancy Riach (deceased)

Date Of Birth: 06 April 1927
Place Of Birth: Motherwell, Scotland

Discipline: Swimming (All strokes)

Inducted to Hall of Fame: 2010

NANCY RIACH was a member of Motherwell Amateur Swimming and Water Polo Club and was described as the finest swimmer in the British Empire and excelled at all of the swimming strokes.

In 1945, Nancy held twenty-eight Scottish and British records, an amazing feat. In 1946, Riach was British champion in the 100 yards, 220 yards and 440 yards Freestyle categories, and a year later she the 100m freestyle title in the World Student Games in Paris.

Tragically, while competing at the European Swimming Championships in Monte Carlo she contracted polio. Against doctors' advice she continued to race and was pulled unconscious from the pool at the end of the 100 yards freestyle event. She never regained consciousness. She died on the morning of 15 September 1947 before her parents arrived from Scotland. Riach was buried, in her swimming costume, in Airdrie on 20 September 1947. It was estimated more than 10,000 people attended the funeral processions to New Monkland Cemetery. 

On her death The United Nations Swimming Committee chairman, S.T. Hurst, said of her: "She was undoubtedly the finest swimmer the British Empire has ever produced. Nancy Riach has been the finest ambassador of sport that Scotland or any other country within the British Empire has ever turned out."

In 1949, SASA established The Nancy Riach Memorial Medal, which is still going today. The medal is awarded annually to the person who has done the most to enhance or uphold the prestige of Scottish swimming in any of its disciplines.

She was also inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.


World Student Games
1947100m FreestyleGold
European Championships, Monte Carlo
19474x100m Freestyle RelayBronze