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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4463


Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (17:57): On 15 April this year Australia lost one of its greatest. One of our swimming legends, Iain Murray Rose, passed away aged 73 after a brave battle against leukaemia. My thoughts go to Murray's family at this time and I thank them for sharing their husband and dad with Australia for so many years. Murray has been described by the Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates as 'simply peerless, the finest swimmer throughout his era'. Perhaps Swimming Australia's President David Urquhart put it best when he said, 'Murray Rose is part of the swimming DNA in this country.'

Born in Nairn, Scotland in 1939, as an infant Murray moved to Australia with his family soon after the outbreak of World War II. As a child, Murray took to swimming very early on and his first swimming lessons were at Sydney's Redleaf Pool at Double Bay at the age of just five. His first teacher was 1924 diving gold medallist Dick Eve. He was seven years old when Sam Herford became the pool's resident coach.

At the age of just 17 Murray headed to the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne as a swimmer representing Australia. He won three medals at the games—all gold. His wins in the 400 metres, 1,500 metres and four-by-200-metre relay made Murray a household name as well as a national hero. In 1960, as a 21-year-old, he again joined the Australian team for the Summer Olympics in Rome. Murray won the 400-metre freestyle and finished second to John Konrads in the 1500 metres. He also took home a bronze medal, swimming in the four-by-200-metre relay team. Murray was the only swimmer to have won the 400-metre freestyle twice in a row. This honour is now shared by another great Australian swimmer, Ian Thorpe. Murray's last time representing Australia as a swimmer was at the 1962 Perth Commonwealth Games, where he won every event he swam and took home four gold medals. During his swimming career he set 15 world records, including the 800-metre freestyle in 1962, which was not broken until 1966. Murray's talent in the pool was highlighted in his long-distance swims. Another Australian swimming legend, Dawn Fraser, described him as 'the pioneer of distance swimming in Australia'. His service to swimming was recognised in 2000 when he was appointed a member of the Order of Australia. Following his swimming career, Murray pursued an acting career. He had minor roles in two Hollywood movies and periodic performances in television shows.

Murray swam his way into our history based on his natural talent as well as his hard work—and certainly without the streamlined water-repellent body suits the swimmers of today wear. He will always be remembered for his domination in the pool and as an inspiration to Australians as well as to swimmers right across the globe. He proved the Aussie ideal that working hard will allow you to reap the rewards. Murray remained a dedicated swimmer his whole life and believed every Australian should learn to swim. He lived by his belief and was a patron of the Rainbow Club, an organisation that teaches disabled children to swim. Murray was a frequent commentator on different television channels when the Olympics rolled around, and he will be notably absent from the commentary for this year's London Olympic Games.

I will finish with the words of John Coates, who highlighted that Murray's conduct in life beyond the pool was just as impressive as the many records and medals he won:

The record books don't tell us everything …

They don't emphasize this proud truth that throughout his career and life, through his generosity of spirit, his sense of fair play, his modesty, his dignity, his respect for his opposition, his innate sense of decency, his attitude to life, Murray Rose embodied all the values and the virtues that the Olympic movement treasures.

Vale Murray Rose.