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Sir Francis Beaurepaire

1891 – 1956

Sir Francis Beaurepaire (1891-1956), Olympic swimmer, businessman and civic leader, won his first Victorian swimming titles in 1906, following up with three national titles in 1908. Having gone to England to compete for Australia at the London Olympics in 1908, he trained in appalling conditions, without official support, to win the English half-mile and mile championships before competing with influenza to win Olympic silver in the 400 m and bronze in the 1500m. By 1910, his great year, he had twelve Australian championships to his credit. On a European tour he set world records for 300 yards and 200m, 300m and 500m, and won seven English titles, six in record time. For these and other feats he received the Helms Athletic Foundation of America award for Athlete of the Year. Having served in World War 1, he was invalided out in 1918 with trench fever. For a time he was barred from amateur swimming competition on the basis that he was a professional swimming instructor; however, he returned to competition in the Antwerp Olympics of 1920 to win another silver and bronze. In 1921 he won a further five Australian titles. His last Olympic swims were in Paris in 1924; he won a silver and bronze again. Thus, though he held fifteen world records, he never won a gold medal. In 1920 he founded the Advanx Tyre Repair Company in Sydney; in 1933 the Olympic Tyre and Rubber Company; and in 1953 Olympic Consolidated Industries. He was Lord Mayor of Melbourne from 1940 to 1942, the year he was knighted. The following year he stood unsuccessfully as a United Australia Party Senate candidate. An active proponent of Learn to Swim classes, he gave £200 000 for the establishment of a sports centre at the University of Melbourne and was one of the chief sponsors of the proposal to hold the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.

Updated 2018