Frank Beaurepaire

Athlete Biography

1891 - 1956

The Olympic career of Frank Beaurepaire covered 16 years, embracing the Games of London (1908), Antwerp (1920) and Paris (1924). He won six medals, a tally that remained a record for a male until equalled by Murray Rose in 1960 and bettered by Ian Thorpe in 2004 - but sadly he never won gold. The finest Australian swimmer of his time, he learned the hard way - being tossed into the water at a Melbourne tidal pool by his father, with a rope knotted around his middle. He suffered severe rheumatic fever at 10, but persevered with his swimming, winning Victorian open titles at 14 and the Australian 440 yards, half-mile and mile championships at 16. Aged 17, he was the youngest member of the Australian team for the 1908 Olympics in London. He contracted a heavy cold before the Games, causing him to swim well below his best. He finished second in the 400m final, third in the 1500m, and was lead swimmer in the squad which finished fourth in the 4 x 200m relay.

Under the rigid amateur rules of the time, Beaurepaire was banned from competition in 1912 because he accepted a job as a physical education teacher. The ban, which lasted until 1920, kept him out of the Stockholm Games. In the Olympics of both 1920 and 1924, he won silver in the relays and bronze in the 1500m. Beaurepaire, who was gassed during war service, was a hero in a 1922 shark attack. He was later knighted, and became Lord Mayor of Melbourne.        

Harry Gordon, AOC historian