Rio De Janeiro:Maria Emma Hulda Lenk, the first South American woman to swim in the Olympics and a pioneer in the development of the butterfly stroke, died on Monday. She was 92.
Lenk fell ill while swimming at the Flamengo club pool and was taken to Copa D'Or Hospital still conscious.
But she suffered a heart attack as doctors were preparing to operate to remove an aneurism, the hospital in Copacabana said in a statement.
The Brazilian Olympic Committee declared three days of mourning in her honor.
The daughter of German immigrants, Lenk was born in Sao Paulo on Jan. 15, 1915, and competed at her first Olympics in 1932 at Los Angeles.
Her best showing was the semifinals of the 200-meter breaststroke. She also raced in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
Lenk returned for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, swimming the new fly arm stroke with breaststroke kick, which later developed into the butterfly. Her best effort was again the semifinals in the 200 breaststroke.
Although she never won an Olympic medal she did over the course of her career set three world records in the 200 and 400 breaststroke, and another in relay.
Lenk had hopes of winning an Olympic medal at the 1940 Games, but it was canceled because of the Second World War.