Australian swimming rocked by death of legendary John Konrads

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
John Konrads, pictured here with Geoff Barker and Bessie Bardot.
Geoff Barker, Bessie Bardot and John Konrads at the Abercrombie and Kent Oyster party in 2006. (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images)

The Australian sporting community is mourning the tragic death of swimming legend John Konrads at 78.

Widely regarded as one of Australia's greatest swimmers during a golden age for the sport, Konrads died on Sunday.

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Konrads dominated world swimming as a teenager in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

He won gold in the 1500m freestyle at the 1960 Rome Olympics among a haul of three medals at the Games.

Across a decorated career, Konrads set 26 individual freestyle world records between the 200m and 1500m events before he turned 15.

He was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.

John Konrads, pictured here at the British Empire Games in 1958.
John Konrads at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1958. (Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images)

Swimming word mourns death of John Konrads

The SAHOF announced his death on Monday.

"The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is mourning the passing of esteemed Member John Konrads," they tweeted.

Hall of Fame Chairman John Bertrand paid tribute to the late legend.

"He was a proud Sport Australia Hall of Fame Member with an extravagant sense of humour who will leave a lasting legacy around the world," Bertrand said.

"Our condolences are with his sister Ilsa, the Konrads family and the many lives John touched within the swimming and broader communities.”

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Born in Riga, Latvia, Konrads emigrated with his parents Janis and Elza, grandmother, and sisters Eve and Ilsa in August 1944, initially to Germany.

Living in Germany until 1949, their application to immigrate to the United States was refused on account of the large size of the family.

They were relocated to a camp at Uranquinty, 15km south of Wagga Wagga in the Riverina region of NSW.

Konrads suffered polio as a child and his father thought swimming would be of therapeutic benefit.

He first caught the attention of famed Australian swim mentor Don Talbot, who was working as an assistant coach while teaching at a Sydney primary school Konrads and his sister Ilsa attended.

John Konrads and wife Mikky, pictured here at the 'Music for Children Ball' in 2006.
John Konrads and wife Mikky at the 'Music for Children Ball' in 2006. (Photo by John Stanton/WireImage)

The Konrad siblings were at their record-breaking best in 1958, the year John won three gold medals at the Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff.

In 1959, John won every Australian freestyle title.

After retirement, Konrads entered the world of swim coaching before becoming the Australasian director of cosmetics giant L'Oreal.

He assisted with the bid for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was a company director operating the Cook and Phillip Park Aquatic & Fitness Centre, as well as consulting in human resources.

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with AAP

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