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Swimming legend Murray Rose passes away aged 73

15 April 2012

Swimming legend Murray Rose AM has passed away aged 73.

The winner of six medals from the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games, including four gold, he is without doubt one of Australia’s greatest Olympians. Rose set 15 world records during his career and was admired both in and out of the pool.

AOC Historian Harry Gordon wrote in 2005 for olympics.com.au -

“Murray Rose, like Betty Cuthbert, emerged from the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne as a national hero. Born in Birmingham, England, and brought to Australia as an infant after the outbreak of World War II, he had his first swimming lessons at the age of five at Sydney's Redleaf Pool in Double Bay. His first teacher was the 1924 diving gold medallist Dick Eve, and he was seven when Sam Herford became the pool's resident coach. Rose's idol was John Marshall, breaker of 28 world records; in January 1956 he cut Marshall's world record for 880 yards, and went on to set 14 more world records over the next nine years.

Rose won the first of his three 1956 gold medals in the final of the 4 x 200m freestyle relay. He followed with victories in the 400m freestyle and 1500m freestyle, becoming the first swimmer in 36 years to win both individual events. After the Games, Rose moved to Los Angeles and attended the University of Southern California. He returned to Australia to train for the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he won the 400m freestyle and finished second to John Konrads in the 1500m. He was the only swimmer ever to have won the 400m freestyle twice in a row; that honour is now shared with Ian Thorpe (2000-2004).

Bizarrely, even though he had recently set two world records, Australian swimming officials refused him permission to swim in the Olympic trials for the Tokyo Games. It was a frustrating ending to a wonderful career.”

Rose also won four Commonwealth gold and two silver medals in 1962. He continued to swim in masters events and ocean swims. He was involved in charity work and was the patron for the Australian charity ‘The Rainbow Club’ which teaches disabled children to swim.

The swimmer with the model looks studied drama and television at University. After retiring from competitive swimming he appeared in two movies and worked as a sports commentator in Australia and the United States.

An avenue at Sydney Olympic Park was named after him for the 2000 Games.

AOC President John Coates paid tribute to Rose on behalf of the AOC and Olympic community when learning of the news while in Russia at the ANOC Meeting.

"Murray was one of Australia’s truly greatest Olympians," Coates said.

"Not only as a four-time Olympic Champion but also because of his support and promotion of the very best Olympic values and because of the way he conducted himself.

"Our thoughts go out to his wife Jodi and son Trevor who can certainly be proud of him."

AOC

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