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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Andrew B Charlton, 1930s

an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph with orginal authographed sheet (mount: 50.6 cm x 40.5 cm, image: 13.9 cm x 8.6 cm)

Andrew 'Boy' Charlton (1907-1975) was a keen surfer throughout his youth. He had just enrolled in agricultural college in early 1923 when he broke the world 880 yard freestyle record by nineteen seconds at the NSW State titles. The following year he equalled world champion Arne Borg's record over 440 yards. At the 1924 Olympic Games (en route to which his coach attempted suicide) he broke the world and Olympic records to win gold in the 1500 metres; he came third in the 400 metres, won by Johnny Weismuller. A hero in Sydney, he dropped out of college to work on a station at Gunnedah. In January 1927 he set a new world record for the 880 yards, and at the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928 he won two silver medals. He became seriously ill with rheumatic fever not long after. Though he set several new Australian records before the 1932 Olympics, he was unplaced at the games. In 1934 he moved to Canberra, where he was captain of Manuka swimming club; for Manuka, he swam one of his greatest races, winning the 880 yards in the NSW State titles of 1935. Having married Jessie Hyles of the grazing dynasty, he prospered as a grazier himself, near Goulburn. In 1968 the new Sydney Domain baths were named in his honour; in 1972 he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame at Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and in 1985 he was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011

Accession number: 2011.77

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Andrew Charlton (age 23 in 1930)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.