Esteemed Australian swim coach Don Talbot died on Tuesday at the age of 87. The news was first reported by Swimming World.
Talbot was the driving force behind Australia becoming a swimmer powerhouse in the 1960s and 1970s, and also spent time coaching in Canada and the United States during his career.
Talbot, born in the New South Wales township of Barnsley, started his career back in 1956, when he began coaching a pair of Latvian immigrants — John and Ilsa Konrads — while working at the Bankstown pool in Sydney. Under his guidance, both swimmers set world records and combined for four medals at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.
Talbot went on to take over as the head coach of the Australian men’s Olympic team from 1964 to 1972, combining for 14 medals over three Games. Due to a lack of funding in Australia, he moved to Canada to become the head coach of the national team. In 1978, he moved to the U.S. to train the Olympic team for the 1980 Games prior to the American boycott.
He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1979.
Talbot would go on to be named the inaugural director of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 1980, helping high performance sport receive adequate government funding, before returning to Canada in 1983. He would lead Canada to prominence at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, where they finished second on the medal table with four gold and 10 total medals. Shortly before the 1988 Olympics, he was let go by the Canadian Olympic Committee for demanding stricter qualifying standards.
Upon his return to his home country, Talbot was named the National Head Coach of Australian Swimming in 1989, a post he would hold until retiring after the 2001 World Championships.
At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia produced its best swimming performance since 1972, finishing with five gold and 18 total medals, and in Fukuoka in 2001, the Aussies topped the medal table with 13 golds.
In addition to the ISHOF, Talbot was also inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1990, and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1981 and an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2007.
His son, Scott Talbot-Cameron, went on to become a two-time Olympic swimmer representing New Zealand in both 2000 and 2004.