Today, November 23 we celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest swimmers the world has ever seen, the incomparable Shane Gould.
Coached by Forbes and Ursula Carlile, Shane was born in 1956, the same year that Dawn Fraser won the first of her three successive 100m freestyle Olympic Gold Medals.
Shane would go on to break Dawn’s 100m freestyle world record. At the time Dawn had held the record for longer than 15-year-old Shane had been alive.
That record also sealed a unique accomplishment, giving Shane every freestyle world record from 100m to 1500m simultaneously. A feat that will surely never be matched. For good measure Shane also held the 200IM world record.
Shane would go on to win three Gold Medals at the Munich Olympics all in world record time and was named Australian of the year. Her record of five individual gold medals at the one Olympics has never been matched, not even Ian Thorpe or more recently Emma McKeon could match that individual tally at the one Olympic Games.
More recently Shane was also the winner of Australian Survivor.
On November 25, we also celebrate the birthday of the late great Terry Gathercole. Terry, another Carlile coached swimmer, was a dual Olympian who broke ten world records.
Despite those magnificent achievements it is fair to say Terry’s influence on swimming exceeded what he achieved in the water. Terry coached Australia for 28 years, producing Olympic Gold medallists such as Ian Obrien and Bev Whitfield. He later became the president of Australian Swimming. His funeral in 2001 was attended by a who’s who of world swimming and the then Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
We don’t know what it is about November, but it is a stellar month for Australian swimming champions.
Along with the two Carlile stars above, there is an extraordinary list of champions born in November. All of whom are also in the International Swimming Hall of Fame
Michael Wendon, who won the 100m and 200m freestyle double at the Mexico Olympics, both in world record time.
Robert Windle, a three time Olympian and world record holder who won the 1500m freestyle Gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Jodie Henry, who won three Gold medals and broke three world records at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Jodie was the first Australian woman since Dawn Fraser 40 years before to win the 100m freestyle Olympic gold.
Cecil Healy, the man credited with taking the Australian Crawl to the world. He won Olympic gold in Stockholm in 1912. Cecil is also the only Australian Olympic champion to be killed in action. He was lost at the Somme in 1918.
Tracy Wickham a two-time world champion and world record holder. How good was Tracy? Her world record in the 400m freestyle at the 1978 World Championships, stood as the championship record for the next 29 years. The time of 4.06.28 would have won the gold medal at four of the next five Olympic Games.