British Masters Swimming ‘Pioneer’ John Gordon Dies at 76

John Gordon, a 1966 Commonwealth Games finalist, died at the age of 76, according to a tribute from Swimming England.

Gordon founded the prominent Masters team Spencer Swim Team in 1977. Swimming England called him a “pioneer” of Masters swimming in England.

In 1978, Gordon helped lead an effort to make Spencer Swim Team the first British Masters team to compete at an overseas Masters meet. The team competed at Brown University in Rhode Island. The team also traveled to U.S. Short Course Masters Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1980 and 1982.  

“John was simply one of the most intense, enthusiastic and committed swimmers and coaches that you will ever meet,” Spencer Swim Team head coach Steve Baker said. “His very sudden death has been a great and tragic shock to many.”

Gordon finished seventh in the 440-yard IM at the 1966 Commonwealth and British Empire Games in Kingston, Jamaica, going 5:15.

“As a young swimmer, he was swimming 30,000 metres plus a week without the use of goggles and most of his training was on his own,” Baker added. “A major feat of physical and mental commitment and strength.”

Spencer Swim Team co-founder Tony Pearce also offered a tribute. 

“Back then, he was not just the coach. He was the initiator of a completely new genre. In my opinion that period between 1977 to 1978 was the true beginning of Masters swimming in this country,” Pearce wrote. “John has given Masters swimming in this country a respectability that will last forever.”

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Bruce Lawrie
2 months ago

R.I.P. John – you made a meaningful difference to the lives of many. Respect!

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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