Gold Medal, 4 x 100-Meter Relay
Gold Medal, 200-meter Backstroke
1964 Olympic Games
Lillian, nicknamed “Pokey”, Watson set her first national age group record (9-10) in 1960, and her first world record when she was only 13, as a member of the Santa Clara Swim Club’s 400-meter medley relay team.
During the next five years, she won 26 national AAU titles and set 42 American records in the freestyle, backstroke and relays.
In 1964, at age 14, she earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic 400-meter medley relay team by winning the 100-meter freestyle tryouts in 1:01.2, setting an American record. She swam the anchor leg on the relay during the Olympic preliminary heat, with a time of 1:01.9, second fastest of all relay swimmers. She did not swim in the medley relay finals, which the U.S. won. However, she swam the third leg on the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay which the U.S. won in 4:03.8, a new world record, and won her first Olympic gold medal.
Pokey continued to swim post Olympics, breaking the world record for the 200-meter freestyle in 1967. By the time the 1968 Olympics rolled around, she decided to change strokes and competed in the 200-meter backstroke where she turned in the best time in the prelims of 2:29.2 and won the Gold medal and set an Olympic record in the finals with a time of 2:24.8.
At age 18, she retired from competitive swimming. She married Allen Richardson and they moved to Hawaii where he began his medical practice. They joined the Outrigger Canoe Club in 1972.
Lillian was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1984, the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation Waterman Hall of Fame in 2018.
200 Meters Freestyle, 2:11.6, Los Angeles, 7/29/1966
200 Meters Freestyle, 2:10.5, Lincoln, 8/19/1966
400 Meter Freestyle Relay, 4:08.5, Santa Clara Swim Club (second leg) 7/31/1964
400 Meter Freestyle Relay, 4:03.8, US, Tokyo (third leg) 10/15/1964 (Olympic Record)
400 Meters Freestyle Relay, 4:03.5, Santa Clara Swim Club (anchor), 8/19/1967
400 Meters Freestyle Relay, 4:01.1, Santa Clara Swim Club (second leg), 7/6/1968
400 Meter Medley Relay, 4:38.1, Santa Clara Swim Club (freestyle) 7/4/1964
440 Yards Medley Relay, 4:37.4, U.S. London, (backstroke) 9/30/1967
800 Meter Freestyle Relay, 9:08.8, Santa Clara Swim Club, (third leg), Los Altos 1/8/1964
800 Meter Freestyle Relay, 9:13.4, Santa Clara Swim Club, (first leg), Los Angeles, 7/11/1964
* World records provided by ISHOF 2019