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Gathercole Steps Down & Hands The Reins To Devitt

Oct 19, 2000  - Paul Quinlan

At the Australian SC Championships conducted in Melbourne over last weekend President Terry Gathercole passed the Presidential baton to fellow team mate from the golden era of the sport in this country, John Devitt.

Gathercole a former WR holder in 220 yards breaststroke served the sport well for the four-year period allowed by the federation's constitution.

Terry began his association with the sport as a competitor from the New South Wales' country town of West Wyalong, later travelling to Sydney to be coached by Forbes Carlile. He soon rose to prominence and went from state to national 220 yards breaststroke champion in 1954.

Gathercole was selected to two Olympic teams in 1956 and 1960, winning silver in the medley relay in Rome. His international swimming career also included competing in the 1958 Commonwealth Games where he was a dual gold medallist in 200yds breaststroke and the medley relay.

Terry moved straight from competing to coaching in 1960 and was selected to his first Games team for the 1964 Rome Olympics. He later served on the coaching staff of the Australian teams for the 1976 and 1992 Olympic Games, and the 1966 Commonwealth Games.

As National Chairman of the Australian Swimming Coaches Association in 1985, he was appointed to the newly established Board of Australian Swimming Inc. He served in that position for a period of eight years and later was voted to the position of vice-president to the board. In 1996 he was elevated to the position of President of Australian Swimming and has completed his two 2-year terms with distinction. The sport has seen a strong period of growth during his presidency and time on the board.

Among his achievements he can number the construction of Australian Swimming's first real home on the shores of Lake Ginninderra in Canberra, closer relationships with the state swimming associations and development of the national membership scheme in close cooperation with the grass roots of the sport.

Terry Gathercole has been a passionate fighter for athletes and coaches rights and was largely responsible for the strong anti-drugs stand taken by the Australian Government and Olympic Committee at the Sydney Games. He was also a founding board member of the World Swimming Coaches Association.

He will retire to his home and beloved 'veggie' garden in the Canberra suburb of Ginninderra where he will have a constant reminder of his time as president as drives by the Lake.

John Devitt, steeped in the traditions of our sport for more than forty five years will bring his own unique perspective to the sport which he loves dearly and for which he is known world-wide.

Like Terry Gathercole, John began his swimming career as a competitor in New South Wales and represented his country on numerous occasions.

John was the elected captain of the two Olympic teams, 1956 in Melbourne and 1960 in Rome. He was a gold medallist in the 800m freestyle relay and a silver medallist in 100m freestyle in his first Olympics. In Rome he won the 100m freestyle Olympic Championship and a silver medal as a member of the 800m freestyle relay team.

In Commonwealth Games Swimming he was a triple gold medallist at Cardiff in 1958.

Devitt twice set world records in 100m freestyle and was a member of the national teams which set new world marks in the 800m freestyle relay.

From there the parallel swimming histories of the two men took different paths, although they were still close as friends and business associates. John followed a career with the Australian swimwear company, Speedo, which he was to serve for many years both in Australia and Europe.

On his return to Australia the Olympic champion took up where he left off; renewed his relationship New South Wales Swimming as a council and committee member. He became a representative on the Australian Olympic Committee and was later elected as a vice-president, a position he still holds.

John has been a vice-president of Australian Swimming and now takes over the reins for his first two-year term.