Friday, March 2, 2012
Kevin O'Halloran (3 March 1937 – 5 July 1976) was an Australian freestyle swimmer of the 1950s who won a gold medal in the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. The first Western Australian to win Olympic gold, O'Halloran learnt to swim in his home town of Katanning. He moved to Perth to attend secondary schooling at Guildford Grammar School, where he began swimming passionately. Competitive swimming was not well developed in Western Australia; races were held in muddy river pools, so in late 1955, O'Halloran moved to the east coast to support his attempt to qualify for the Olympics. His new coach, Frank Guthrie, overhauled his training regimen, and within a year, O'Halloran had reduced his times by approximately 10%. He gained Olympic selection in the relay and the 400 m freestyle. O'Halloran led off the Australian quartet on the way to a new world record, before placing sixth in the 400 m. Thereafter, O'Halloran's career was beset by ear problems, and he retired in 1958 after failing to qualify for the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. In 1976, O'Halloran died after tripping and accidentally shooting himself.