Don Talbot, the foundation director of the Australian Institute of Sport and one of the country’s greatest swimming coaches, has died
“Don Talbot was at the helm of Australia’s golden swimming era,” Sports Australia Hall of Fame chairman John Bertrand, a former Swimming Australia president, said in a statement. “A coaching magician who returned the Australian national squad to its best results in over 30 years. He changed the way people thought about high performance.
“We have much to thank Don for and his legacy will remain as one of Australia’s most successful swimming coaches and a true inspiration. ”
Talbot started his coaching career in the 1950s and worked early with John Konrads, reportedly paying his own way to the 1960 Olympics in Rome to watch his star swimmer and multiple world record-holder win gold in the 1,500-meter freestyle.
He was on the coaching staff of Australian Olympic teams from 1964-72 and had coaching stints in Canada and the United States before returning to Australia to take up the role as the inaugural AIS director from 1980-83. He returned to Canada and guided the national squad to Olympic success in 1984 and ’88 before going back Down Under in 1989.
He guided the national team to unprecedented success at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and the world championships in Japan in 2001.
Talbot was widely regarded as a firm but fair disciplinarian with his swimmers, but also described as fiercely loyal and supportive.
With Talbot as head coach, Australia placed second to the United States in the pool in the 2000 Olympics — its best performance in decades — with five gold, nine silver and four bronze medals. The Australians topped the gold-medal standings at the world championships the following year in Fukuoka.