Lala Sjöqvist was a leading Swedish diver for a period towards the end of the 1920s during which she also achieved international success.
Lala Sjöqvist was born in Madesjö, Småland in 1903. She was probably inspired to begin diving by her elder sister Vivi, albeit the latter was primarily a gymnast. Lala Sjöqvist joined Kalmar Simsällskap (swimming association) at an early stage. She went on to become a dominant figure within diving, and was also prominent within the breast-stroke. She won the straight dive event at the Swedish championships three years in row, from 1927–1929. Svenska Simförbundet (the Swedish swimming federation) selected Lala Sjöqvist to compete in the straight dive at the 1927 European championship, which was held in Bologna. She achieved fourth place, immediately preceded by fellow Swede Eva Olliwier. According to Sim Simson’s article in Idrottsbladet it was the ‘sheer politicking’ of a couple of judges which led to a French woman being ranked ahead of both of the Swedes. Two years later, namely in 1929, Lala Sjöqvist was selected to represent Sweden at the Nordic championship which was decided at Eriksdalsbadet in Stockholm. She won the gold medal at this competition, in which her younger sister Ingeborg Sjöqvist also competed and came fourth.
Lala Sjöqvist’s greatest success came at the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928. Sweden had sent three women to compete in the high dive event. Lala Sjöqvist was in the second qualifying group, which she won. “The girl from Kalmar performed with great confidence and rightfully won her heat”, Nils Backlund wrote in IX Olympiaden in 1928. However, B. Pinkston from the USA won the final, ahead of G. Coleman, also from the USA. Lala Sjöqvist had to settle for the bronze medal. “The American women and the Swedish woman performed brilliant dives and were incredibly evenly matched. The result was fair, even though it would not have been a surprise had Sjöqvist achieved second place”, was how it was recorded in the aforementioned book.
Lala Sjöqvist married Fridolf Larsson in 1930. A year later the couple had their first child. This put a definitive end to Lala Sjöqvist’s active sporting career. She then went on to work as a public school teacher.
Lala Sjöqvist died in Ryssby in 1964. She is buried at the Södra cemetery in Kalmar.