Cecil Healy

Athlete Biography

1881 - 1918

Cecil Healy is a revered figure in the Australian Olympic movement - not only because of the gold and silver medals he won at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, but for his extreme sportsmanship. Healy, who was killed during in battle during World War I, was a member of the Manly surf lifesaving club. He performed many rescues, and was decorated for bravery by the Royal Humane Society. A devotee of the new Australian crawl stroke, Healy was credited in 1904 with swimming the fastest time ever for the 100 yards freestyle. In 1911, he inflicted the first defeat the young Frank Beaurepaire ever suffered. He swam in the interim 1906 Olympics in Athens, winning bronze in the 100m freestyle.

In Stockholm in 1912, Healy shared gold with other members of the 4 x 200m Australasian relay team --- which defeated a US team led by the legendary Hawaiian Duke Kahanomoku. He also performed an act of chivalry which cost him individual gold. In the 100m freestyle, he qualified for the semi-finals - as did Kahanamoku. Due to a team management error, the Hawaiian and his team-mates failed to show up for the semi-finals. The races were held, with the Americans absent, and Healy won his semi. After the qualifiers for the final were named, though, Healy intervened. He claimed that it would unsportsmanlike to deprive a swimmer of the calibre of Kohanamoku of the chance to swim. Due to his advocacy, the Americans won an appeal to be granted a special semi-final. Kohanamoku swam in it, qualified for the final, and went on to win gold. Healy won the silver. 

Harry Gordon, AOC Historian