Sir Frank Beaurepaire (AUS)
Honor Swimmer (1967)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1908 silver (400m freestyle), bronze (1500m freestyle); 1920 silver (4x200m freestyle relay), bronze (1500m freestyle); 1924 , silver (4x200m freestyle relay), bronze (1500m freestyle); WORLD RECORDS: 14 (200m, 500m, 1000m, 1 mile freestyle); Principal organizer of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
In the gigantic task of preparing for and staging an Olympiad, no swimmer has come close to the late Sir Frank Beaurepaire, Lord Mayor of Melbourne and guiding genius of the 1956 Olympic Games. Were not Beaurepaire the outstanding swimmer of his considerable time, he might qualify for the Hall of Fame as the ex-swimmer who had done most to further the Olympics as an organizer.
As it is, we honor him as the top competitor who swam longest, “mostest” and perhaps even “bestest.” If anyone were to call him the greatest swimmer of his era, the natural question would be, which era, or maybe, which eras, for Beaurepaire swam the trudgen in a competitive career lasting from 1903 to 1924. He won a total of 6 Olympic medals, the last at age 33. Holder of 14 world records, he traveled extensively, writing, talking, teaching swimming wherever he went. In 1910 he toured Europe undefeated.
Just as with the Cavill Family, Barney Kieran, Fanny Durack, Annette Kellerman, Freddy Lane in the early 1900s, Beaurepaire was part of Australia’s leading export — swimmers. Three different times, “Bogey” was invalided by sickness and told he would never be able to participate in sports again. Each time he swam his way back to health and to world records.
Beaurepaire set 5 world records from 200 to 500 meters in 1910, his best year, but was still setting records 11 years later, this time in the 1000 meters and the mile. He won more than 200 first class swimming championships and his fastest times were done when he was past 30.
Returning from the 1920 Olympics via Canada, Beaurepaire became interested in the tire business, took the money awarded him for rescuing a man from a shark off Sydney Beach, and started his own re-treading shop in Melbourne. His studious enterprise, thoroughness, and persistence — all characteristics of his swimming — got him through the Great Depression, as he ultimately captained Olympic Consolidated Industries, a 10 1/2 million pound consolidation of his companies. He became Melbourne’s Lord Mayor and was a principal organizer of the 1956 Olympics. He died of a heart attack in a barber shop in the middle of a typically full day in May 1956, just 5 months before “his” Olympic Games.