Swimming Mourns the Loss of Glenn Tasker – The People’s Leader

Glenn Tasker

By Ian Hanson (Glenn Tasker Tribute)

Australian sport, and swimming in particular, is in mourning today following the sudden passing of Glenn Tasker, one of our finest administrators, a loving family man who had passion for sport and its people. He was without a doubt one of swimming’s finest in his roles as CEO of Swimming Australia and Swimming NSW and his work with Paralympic sport.

Tasker was one of the country’s most respected sporting administrators, a devoted husband and father and a true friend to so many in swimming who had the pleasure of knowing the man and working with him.

Glenn suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at home last Monday, a week ago, and through the amazing efforts of his wife Henny and paramedics they eventually restarted Glenn’s heart. But sadly he had suffered irreversible brain damage and on doctors’ advice, life support was disconnected at Sutherland Hospital last Saturday night.

He remained in a coma, fighting hard with the spirit of his beloved Dragons, until losing his battle in the early hours of this morning. Glenn’s wife Henny advised family and friends of his passing saying: “As a family we have had a wonderful life together. He leaves a huge hole in our hearts and thank you to the staff at Sutherland Hospital who have been so wonderful and thank you to everyone for their support during this difficult time.”

Swim Australia Executive Officer Gary Toner, a coach under Glenn Tasker’s leadership with NSW, spoke on behalf of all coaches and teachers when he paid this tribute to Glenn Tasker:

“Glenn was one the best CEOs of swimming at all levels and I have many fond memories of him as a man who always took the time to recognize and congratulate the coaches and swimmers and we will always remember him as a friend, a leader and supporter of swimming. It is a very sad day,” said Toner.

Former two-time Olympic Head Coach Leigh Nugent also led the tributes that have come flooding in for the popular administrator.

“Glenn was a man who understood swimming at every level – a leader and a believer in those he led,” said Nugent. “He enabled and supported his staff to do the job that he knew they could do. He was honest and told you how it was. If you were fortunate enough to have Glenn’s friendship, you had it for life.”

And that summed up the effect Glenn Tasker had on us all as we strived to provide the best possible outcomes for Australia’s premier Olympic sport.

In what was a celebrated career, Glenn was the man who presided over the most successful Olympic swimming meet as Competition Manager for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games after overseeing the world record breaking 1999 Pan Pacific Championships at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre – his “Pool of Dreams.”

He had earlier been instrumental in the success of the 1996 Olympic Swim Trials – the first major meet at the Olympic Pool – and the re-birth of major commercial television broadcast.

Tasker led NSW Swimming through an era of huge successes and reform between 1990 and 1998 before taking on the Olympic competition manager’s role and after a stint as General Manager of NSW Soccer he took over as CEO of Swimming Australia between 2001 and 2008 – where he stamped his authority on a sport in the post Don Talbot era.

It was also a golden era for swimming in Australia through two hugely successful Olympic Games in 2004 in Athens and the lead up to 2008 in Beijing – with the Australian team under Nugent winning seven gold medals in Athens, the best performance by an Olympic swim team since Melbourne in 1956.

The Beijing campaign, under head coach Alan Thompson, saw the Australians triumphant again with a dominant medal haul, which for the first time saw the Aussies win medals in every relay.

Tasker, who also went on to become CEO of Tennis NSW, had a rare feel for people from the grass roots to the board rooms, from the Olympic champions to the age groupers, from the teachers to the elite coaches and from the parents to his valued groups of volunteers.

His vision for athletes with a disability was second to none in his swimming roles as he introduced swimmers with a disability to the NSW Age Championships for the first time and eventually his positions on the board and as Chairman of Australian Paralympic Committee and as a Non Executive Director between 2009 and 2013.

He was a people’s leader, who built a special rapport with all who came in contact with him, but at the end of the day it was the athletes and coaches of all levels who mattered most.

Glenn had followed in the footsteps of Swimming Australia’s first female Executive Director Vena Murray who had led the sport so bravely and so successfully through the 1990s.

As CEO of Swimming NSW, Glenn Tasker introduced prize money for the NSW Championships and world record incentives which saw a classic 800m freestyle world mark set by Kieren Perkins at Blacktown in 1992.

The pool was packed to the rafters with record attendances which saw young swimmers and fans lining the pool, sitting with their legs in the water, cheering on one of the greatest swimmers in history. Perkins was the second to last person to leave the pool late that night after the thousands of fans departed the pool deck and he signed everyone’s autograph.

The last person, as so often was the case, was a man often referred to as G. Tasker.

It was an honor, a pleasure and a privilege to work for G. Tasker, have a laugh and a beer with him and to celebrate some of swimming’s greatest triumphs. Life was never about him, it was always about the sports and the people around him. A man who would surround himself with the best possible people for the job.

Glenn Tasker was a man who lived by the saying: “Never forget those who made a difference….”

A true gold medal performer who has left a great legacy for us all.

So long son.

3 comments

  1. avatar

    Glenn Tasker was indeed a wonderful servant of the sport of swimming and also tennis. He always wanted the athletes and coaches to have the limelight and never sought it himself. He was a man who always played down his many achievements. He no doubt could have remained chairman of the Australian Paralympic committee for longer had he not himself introduced a term limit into its corporate governance. He was a wonderful administrator and served two sports handsomely and then many sports in his latest role for the Paralympic committee. He will be sorely missed by all those who were fortunate enough to know him.

  2. avatar
    Sharyn Wood

    Vale
    Glenn Tasker a wonderful administrator and human being
    He never forgot his teacher background and always treated everyone with the utmost respect
    He gave me wonderful opportunities to work for him at the Sydney Olympics which I treasure
    Dragon supporter through and through
    Gone too soon

  3. avatar
    Mike Bushell

    Vale Glenn Tasker

    Glenn was just a wonderful gentle man. He had a great sense of decency, integrity, honesty and just doing the right thing by people- caring about others/understanding their point of view. His business acumen and work ethic was always present over his career that I witnessed over more than twenty years but no more so than during his term as CEO of Swimming Australia. It was a halcyon time for the sport with Glenn being responsible in the main for that success along with John Devitt, his legacy continuing into 2008 and beyond. Amazing commercial success, extraordinary exposure and profile and of course outstanding performance in the water- a combination that others in the swimming world could only dream of.

    His Paralympic efforts have been at the forefront of our country’s acceptance of not only, athletes with a disability being on the same stage as able-bodied athletes but also the inclusion of all those with a disability generally in our community. Extraordinary!!

    Ian’s tribute above is very fitting.

    There are few people in this world of sport like Glenn Tasker. It is a great great pity that there are not more like him.

    Thanks Glenn for your outstanding contribution to our society.

    Rest peacefully my Friend.

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