Kevin Berry

Athlete Biography

1945 - 2006

Kevin Berry was 14 years old, one of the nation’s youngest Olympians, when he was selected to swim for Australia at the 1960 Games in Rome. He was 15 when he made the trip to the Olympics, where he did well to reach the butterfly final and finish sixth. It was in Rome that Berry met, and was inspired by, the American Mike Troy - who won the butterfly gold medal. Berry talked to Troy whenever he could, and later wrote to him at Indiana University (where Troy was coached by the legendary “Doc” James Counsilman). Soon after the Games, Troy sent Berry a picture of himself on the victory dais, inscribed with a message telling the youngster that he could be in the same place. “I carried it everywhere,” Berry said later.

By 1962 Berry was setting world records, and in 1963, at the end of an international tour, he began a scholarship course at Indiana, swimming under Counsilman. He later claimed that he had a rare combination: “I had the best conditioning coach in the world in Don Talbot, and the best theory coach in Counsilman.” By the time he arrived in Tokyo for the 1964 Olympics, Berry had set 11 world records. He broke his own world record in the Olympic final with a time of 2:6.6 - which wasn’t beaten until Mark Spitz won in 1972. Berry was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1890. A much-loved man, he died in a Sydney nursing home in December 2006, aged 61.  

Harry Gordon, AOC Historian