Anita's international career started in 1958 when she won two Gold medals at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Later the same year she collected Silver and Bronze at the European Championships in Budapest. Two years later she won Gold at the Rome Olympics.
In 1962 she completed the clean sweep of all the major titles available at the time when winning Gold at the European Championships in Leipzig. She added another Silver and Bronze at the championships. In Perth, Australia she added another three Commonwealth Golds and a Silver.
In 1963, she was honoured with an MBE for her services to swimming. In 1962 Anita became the first woman to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. She was twice voted the Sports Woman of the Year by both the Sports Writers' Association and the Daily Express.
In 1964, she became the first woman to carry the flag for Britain at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.