Aileen Riggin Soule, 96, a swimmer and diver who was the nation's oldest female Olympic gold medalist, died Oct. 17 in a nursing home here. The cause of death was not disclosed.
The oldest living American to have won an Olympic gold medal is 100-year-old James Stillman Rockefeller, who won a rowing gold at the 1924 Olympics.
Ms. Soule won her Olympic gold in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1920 at age 14. Four years later, she competed in the Paris Olympics and won the silver in the springboard, as well as a bronze in the 100-meter backstroke.
Ms. Soule, who was born in Newport, R.I., spent her childhood in New York. She moved to Hawaii in 1957 and swam daily at a pool or at Waikiki Beach well into her nineties.
She had attributed her longevity to swimming. She barely survived Spanish influenza as a child, but swimming made her into an athletic teenager.
She and her 17 female teammates almost didn't get a chance to compete in the 1920 Olympics, because officials were concerned about their traveling with the team's 331 men. Heavy chaperoning softened those fears, and the young women took care of any concerns that they weren't athletically prepared.
Ms. Soule spent her early childhood in the Philippines before moving back to New York, on the recommendation of a doctor who treated her for anemia. She studied ballet at the Metropolitan Opera School of Ballet and joined a girls swim team, coached by Louis de B. Handley of the New York Athletic Club.
Her training partners included future Olympic medalists Helen Wainwright and Gertrude Ederle, who in 1926 became the first woman to swim the English Channel.
In war-impoverished Belgium in 1920, the aquatic events were held in a muddy canal. After earning 539.9 points in the springboard competition to beat Wainwright, she received a victory trophy from King Albert.
Ms. Soule traveled the world on her own in the 1930s, putting on diving exhibitions and teaching clinics. She also danced in the movie "Roman Scandals" and skated in Sonja Henie's film "One in a Million."