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Denise Norton

Denise Norton Park / Pardipardinyilla (Park 2)

photo-icon Shirley Strickland (left), Denise Norton (centre) & Judy Joy Davies (right)
photo-icon Start of the 'swim through Adelaide', State Library of South Australia, B 7798/553, circa 1941
photo-icon Competitors swimming in the Torrens River during the 'Swim through Adelaide' competition, State Library of South Australia, PRG 280/1/24/184, circa 1920
photo-icon City Baths, City of Adelaide Archives, 1461ITEM0020[05], circa 1910s
photo-icon King William Road, City of Adelaide Archives, HP0292, date unknown
photo-icon Adelaide Aquatic Swimming Centre, City of Adelaide Archives, 3554.114.056, circa 1970
photo-icon Adelaide Aquatic Swimming Centre, City of Adelaide Archives, 3554.114.066, circa 1970
photo-icon Adelaide Aquatic Swimming Centre, City of Adelaide Archives, 3554.114.071, circa 1970
photo-icon Adelaide Aquatic Swimming Centre, City of Adelaide Archives, 3554.114.073, circa 1970

Park 2 honours the achievements of Denise Norton, the first South Australian woman to represent her country at the Olympics Games.

Born in Adelaide in August 1933, Denise’s career began as a five-year-old in the shallows of Glenelg beach, where her father taught her strokes, and peaked at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki.

Her natural athleticism and enthusiasm for a challenge saw her dominate swim events at Woodlands School. As a 15 year-old she was second in the annual “Swim through Adelaide” raced in the River Torrens – the first-placed man beat her by just four seconds.

Denise also won gold in the 4 x 100 yard freestyle relay and bronze in the 440 yard freestyle in the 1950 British Empire games (later Commonwealth Games) and set many Australian records.

Denise returned to swimming at the age of 50 where she set more records and won gold in Masters Championships. She also raced sailing dinghies at an international level and won the Australian 420 class National Championships with her medical husband, Professor Anders Wangel.

The centre for swimming in Adelaide used to be the City Baths on King William Street (where the entrance to the Adelaide Festival Centre is now). The City Baths were built in 1861 and demolished in 1969 to make way for the Festival Centre. For 100 years, the baths were an important social institution for the City.

The Adelaide Swimming Centre (now Adelaide Aquatic Centre) was built in Park 2 in 1968-1969, and enclosed with a roof in 1985.

Pardipardinyilla is the Kaurna word for swimming place. The Kaurna people are the traditional owners and custodians of the Adelaide Plains.

Park 2 has evolved from Colonel William Light’s 1837 Plan of the City and Park Lands of Adelaide. Adelaide’s planning legacy is recognised by the inclusion of the City and Park Lands Layout on the National Heritage List. Adelaide is the only city in the world surrounded by a planned and largely intact system of Park Lands.

The Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout is widely regarded as a masterwork of urban design and signifies a turning point in the settlement of Australia. Adelaide was the first city in Australia to be planned and developed, not as a penal settlement or military outpost, but as a place for free settlers.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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