1972 Munich Memories: 50 Years On For One Of Australia’s Greatest Olympic Swim Teams

MUNICH OLYMPIC SWIM TEAM
1972 Australian Olympic Swim Team, Munich. Back row: Roger Pegram, Graham Windeatt, Neil Rogers, Bruce Featherstone, Greg Rogers, Neil Martin, Paul Jarvie, Robbie Nay, Brad Cooper. Middle row: Narelle Moras, Helen Gray, Jimmy Findlay, Shane Gould, Mike Wenden, Leanne Francis, Graham White, Gail Neall, Don Talbot. Front row: Sue Lewis, Deborah Palmer, Sharon Booth, Judy Hudson, Sue Funch, Karen Moras, Debbie Cain, Bev Whitfield. Photo Courtesy Swimming NSW.

1972 Munich Memories: 50 Years On For One Of Australia’s Greatest Olympic Swim Teams

Men’ team captain Mike Wenden described it as one of Australia’s greatest ever Olympic swim teams and 50 years on it’s hard to argue.

The 1972 Munich Olympic swim team produced six of Australia’s eight overall gold medals – plus two silver and two bronze for a total of 10 medals.

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FIFTY YEARS ON; Members of Australia’s 1972 Munich Swim Team: Back row (L-R): Paul Jarvie, Graham Windeatt, Mike Wenden, Bruce Featherstone, Neil Rogers, Neil Martin. Front Row (L-R): Judy Hudson, Shane Gould, Sue Lewis, Sue Funch, Helen Gray, Gail Neall. Photo Courtesy: Neil Rogers.

A team lead by 15-year-old Sydney schoolgirl Shane Gould – who won five of those 10 medals – three of them gold in the 200 and 400m freestyle and 200IM with silver in the 800m and bronze in the 100m freestyles – a truly remarkable spread from 100m to 800m.

And to this day Gould, who was recently inducted into the Swimming Australia Hall of Fame – still holds the record of the most individual gold and total individual medals from one Games of any Australian Olympian.

Gould made the trip back to Sydney from her home in Bicheno, on the east Coast of Tasmania, to join her team mates.

And only the Tokyo team of 2021 with seven individual gold medals in the pool has bettered the 1972 and 1956 teams with their six individual gold medals respectively.

While the remarkable Gould, the world record holder for every freestyle event, was the name on everyone’s lips going into the Games, Sydney schoolmates from Turramurra Gail Neall (400m individual medley) and Bev Whitfield (200m breaststroke) produced the swims of their lives for their gold medals.

Like Gould did in the 200IM, both Neall and Whitfield stole their gold from lane seven – both following coach Don Talbot’s instructions to the letter – backing themselves to bring their races home – becoming the two surprise packets of the Games.

Wenden, the 1968 dual Olympic champion over 100 and 200m freestyle made the assessment of a team that gathered at the iconic Bondi Iceberg baths to reflect, reminisce and remember what was an extra special time some half-a-century later.

Icebergs '72 TEAM CROPPED

CLASS OF ’72 REUNION AT BONDI ICEBERGS (L-R) Helen Gray, Neil Rogers, Shane Gould, Paul Jarvie, Bruce Featherstone and Judy Hudson.Photo Courtesy: Neil Rogers.

Twelve members of the team including Wenden and Gould attended a weekend away in Sydney and even showed they haven’t lost their touch some with a dip in the chilly Iceberg waters.

Gould even balancing a water bottle on her forehead as the 200IM Olympic champion from ’72 backstroked up and down the famous Bondi Icebergs pool – complete with cork lane ropes – and dodging fellow swimmers with some entertaining laps.

She was joined for a swim by Queensland team mates Helen Gray and Judy Hudson, resident coach Neil Rogers, Paul Jarvie and Bruce Featherstone.

There were two sets of sibblings on the ’72 team, brothers Neil and Greg Rogers and sisters Karen and Narelle Moras – all from Sydney.

Karen Moras, who at 14, had won Olympic bronze in Mexico in 1968 was the team captain at 18 with little sister Narelle Moras making her debut at 15.

There were 13 girls on the team – with a remarkable average age of 15 with Queensland breaststroker Judy Hudson the baby of the team at just 13.

The men’s team of 11 had an average age of 18 and included 17-year-old Talbot-trained gold and silver medallists Brad Cooper in the 400m freestyle and Graham Windeatt in the 1500.

Shane Gould wiht a Kangaroo

GOLDEN GIRL: Shane Gould on the Munich golden medal podium Photo: Russ McPhedran. Courtesy: Hanson Media Collection.

Windeatt, now living in Jindabyne with his family attended the reunion with 1976 Olympian wife Nira Stove.

Mine host Neil Rogers told Swimming World just how special it was to catch up with some of his team mates some 50 years on.

“Mike (Wenden) made a point of saying that the 1972 team was without doubt one of Australia’s most successful teams in our Olympic history,” said Neil.

“And we should never forget that either – especially when you consider that that every one of our medals was an individual medal – with Shane winning the majority of course.

“Mike also sent his best wishes from his mum, who still giving cheek at the ripe old age of 102, reminded Mike that she was one of the time keepers the night Shane broke Dawn Fraser’s world record in the 100m freestyle at North Sydney Pool in 1971 – which brought the house down.

“It was so good to get together and remember how good a team it really was and how special it was to sit down and catch up.

“There was plenty of stories and plenty of laughs – it was a great team and Mike was right – one of our greatest.

“Of course we remembered those who we’ve lost too – with the passing of Robbie Nay, Jimmy Findlay and Bev Whitfield and head coach Don Talbot.

“And Graham White rang me from his hospital bed with an apology after undergoing a procedure – but he never forgets – always a great character.”

Beverley Whitfield 200m breaststroke 1972 Munich

MUNICH MOMENT: Bev Whitfield celebrates her Olympic gold in the 200m breaststroke. Photo : Russell McPhedran Courtesy: Hanson Media Collection.

It was also a time that rocked world sport after 11 Israeli Olympic team members were murdered at a Games by Palestinian terrorists.

A Games when ageing IOC president Avery Brundage addressed the world with the words “the Games must go on.”

And remembered….

The Australian Swimming Team, Munich 1972.

MEN: Mike Wenden (NSW) Men’s Team captain, Graham Windeatt (NSW), Neil Rogers (NSW), Greg Rogers (NSW), Bruce Featherstone (VIC), Neil Martin (QLD), Paul Jarvie (NSW), Robbie Nay (NSW), Brad Cooper (NSW), Jimmy Findlay (NSW), Graham White (VIC)

WOMEN: Narelle Moras (NSW), Helen Gray (QLD), Shane Gould (NSW), Leanne Francis (QLD), Gail Neall (NSW), Sue Lewis (QLD), Deborah Palmer (SA), Sharon Booth (NSW), Judy Hudson (QLD), Sue Funch (QLD), Karen Moras (NSW) (Women’s captain), Debbie Cain (VIC), Bev Whitfield (NSW) Head Coach: Don Talbot Assistant coach: Ursula Carlile (The first female Olympic swim team coach) Manager: Roger Pegram

 

 

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rex walsh
2 months ago

Wonder memories and fantastic to be able to share a part of the celebration at Icebergs Pool. Lots of laughter on pool deck! Congratulations ? all and thanks for the memories
Rex Walsh

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