Legendary swimming coach, Don Talbot passed away this week in Queensland. Donald Malcolm Talbot AO OBE was an Australian Olympic swimming coach and sport administrator. He coached national teams for Canada, the United States and Australia.
Don grew up in Bankstown and attended Homebush Boys High School. After almost drowning as a child he took up swimming, becoming a teacher and swim coach. He started coaching in the 1950s, discovering John and Ilsa Konrads and coaching them to swimming success. He played a pivotal part in some of Australia’s most successful Olympic campaigns as head coach of the swim team. The International Swimming Hall of Fame member first took charge of Australia’s swim team in the 1960s and held official titles at seven Olympic Games. He also enjoyed stints with both Canada and the United States and was named the inaugural director of the Australian Institute of Sport in 1980. The master strategist returned as Australian swimming’s head coach in 1989, overseeing a resurgence that culminated in 18 medals – five of them gold – at Sydney’s 2000 Olympics. He was the coach of champions such as Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, and Susie O'Neill in Sydney, and oversaw the likes of Kieren Perkins in glorious campaigns at Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996. Talbot's Sydney 2000 campaign was highlighted by a boil over victory for Australian in the men's 4x100m relay, where Thorpe, Michael Klim, Ashley Callus and Chris Fydler beat the hotly-fancied USA team.
Don Talbot is being remembered as a “coaching magician” and has been described as being fiercely uncompromising, demanded the best of everyone he worked with, inspiring them resulting in everyone lifting their game around him and achieving their best. Don’s legacy will remain as one of Australia’s most successful swimming coaches and a true inspiration.