British Swim Coach and Famed Administrator Eric Wikinson Dies at 92

British swim coach and administrator Eric Wilkinson has died. He was 92 years old.

Darlington started his swimming and water polo careers in 1948, which included winning national honors during a stint with the Royal Air Force from 1951-1953. After he left the Air Force, he was appointed coach of the Darlington swimming club.

There, he coached, among others, Kim Wickham, who won two medals for Scotland at the 1974 Commonwealth Games: a silver in the 100 fly and a bronze as part of the 400 medley relay. He also coached Karen Toole, who in 1983 won the Centenary Cup for the year’s fastest English Channel crossing in 9 hours and 6 minutes.

He also coached his daughter Emma Wilkinson, herself a former elite swimmer who now serves as the Chief Communications Officer for the Premier League – England’s top soccer league.

“He was brilliant” Emma said in an interview with The Northern Echo. “It wasn’t as if it was an Olympic-size pool, it was just the local baths. Darlington’s name was known everywhere.

“I think he saw sport, especially swimming, as a force for good” said Emma. “He was very competitive, a perfectionist and a zealot, but with the simply philosophy of quality over quantity.

“A lot of coaches just flogged their swimmers, dad had a different approach. He loved swimming and he wanted them to love it, too.”

Wilkinson had arguably an equally-significant impact on the sport as an administrator. He was named president of the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) in 1991. In 1974, he managed both the English and Great Britain national junior squads, and was a British Swimming official at the 1992 Olympic Games, as well as 3 World Championships and Commonwealth Games. He also managed the British open water team, and chaired both the ASA and British Swimming and selection committees.


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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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