Jan Cameron's memorial service is scheduled for Thursday May 10th at 11am at the Mathew Flinders Anglican College Performance Centre, located at 1-47 Stringybark Rd, Buderim QLD.
Australia’s swimmers will carry the inspirational legacy of the late coach Jan Cameron into the lanes of the Tokyo pool for the 2020 Paralympic Games – such is the impact the Olympian and Mentor coach has had on the sport.
Jan Cameron, who swam for Australia at the 1964 Olympics and 1966 Commonwealth Games as Jan Murphy, and who went on to the highest coaching levels in Australia and New Zealand, died suddenly at home on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday after a short illness – she was 71.
She was most recently part of Australia’s most successful ever Commonwealth Games swim team on the Gold Coast, in her role as National Para Sport Mentor Coach.
The performances of Australia’s Para swimmers and the influence she has had on them and their coaches will remain immeasurable.
The swimming community in Australia, across the Tasman and around the world from coaches to swimmers and officials remain in shock, so saddened at such a sudden loss, as tributes flood in.
Swimming Australia president John Bertrand described Cameron as a much-loved member of the Swimming Family.
“Staff, coaches, officials and athletes alike. Jan’s illustrious career has spanned all areas of swimming including as an athlete, coach and administrator,” said Bertrand.
“An Olympian herself, Jan was swimmer number 109. She represented Australia at both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, winning a silver medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for her part in the 4x100m freestyle relay alongside Dawn Fraser.
“She was so passionate about the sport of swimming. Her enthusiasm, knowledge and wisdom enveloped us all.”
There have been tears on pool deck around the country over the past 48 hours as swimmers and coaches come to terms with a loss of such a passionate, hardworking coach so dedicated to the sport and the athletes she loved so much – but above all the loss of such a warm and welcoming woman.
And none more so than at the University of the Sunshine Coast campus pool where she has spent so much time in recent years coaching and mentoring the current Para swimmers and coaches and at Nunawading Swimming Club in Melbourne where her son Scott is carrying on the family traditions established by his father Don and mother Jan as the club’s successful head coach.
Olympians Dawn Fraser, John Devitt, Nicole Livingstone and Adam Pine have paid tribute to one of our true pioneers of coaching.
Five-time Olympic gold medallist, Fraser was one of her relay team mates alongside Robyn Thorn and Lyn Bell in Australia’s 4x100m medley relay in Tokyo in ’64 – silver medallists behind the world beating Americans.
“As a team mate there were none tougher, as a coach there were none tougher and we are all so saddened at this tragic loss,” said Fraser.
“I remember ’64 and racing the US in that relay was always going to be a tough ask and Jan took them on, just like she has taken on every other challenge in her life – she was never beaten.
“You could see the work she did with our Para swimmers at the Commonwealth Games – you could tell the influence she had.”
Devitt, the 1960 Olympic champion went on to become president of Swimming Australia, and knew Jan Cameron well, paying his own tribute to the swimmer, the coach and the amazing person she was.
“Jan was from the old school when it came to swimming, no substitute for hard work and on the pool deck there was no more welcoming person – who adored her family and son Scott who himself went on to become an Olympian and is now a top flight coach in his own right.”
Three-time Olympian Adam Pine, now Swimming Australia’s Paralympic Program Manager is one of the men responsible for bringing Cameron into her most recent role as National Para Sport Mentor Coach, working as close as anyone with her.
“Jan was a coach who always pushed the envelope of what was possible of every single situation,” said Pine.
“And she lived by the adage ‘if you want something done…then do it yourself’ and she got things done.
“Jan attacked every challenge head on and if she was defeated then she would re-group and find another way to get around it - the kind of person who always worked to get the best out of everyone.
“She will be truly missed but her impact will be on going; the processes and structures she put together will carry on through to Tokyo and beyond.
“Jan had this presence around her and a wonderful way of saying hello to everyone and bringing them into her circle before turning to the next person and finding out what she needed to know but at the same time everyone felt like they were her friends – she was always so welcoming and she wanted to know about you.
“She taught our Para swimmers to be athletes and to be in control of what they could control and that was ‘pool time....pool time is the most important’ she would say…get in and get the hard work done and that’s what will get you to Tokyo. That’s what will get you the results.”
Pine said Cameron would leave a “huge hole” in the Paralympic Program.
“It is a hole that will be difficult to fill; we have a camp in two weeks that she was head coach for 30 athletes for testing and a focus on relays for Tokyo.
“Jan was also our lead coach for this year’s Para Pan Pacs in Cairns for a 30 plus Australian Team…and knowing Jan she would want us to be better than what we’ve got….but that is going to be hard to fill.”
Triple Olympian and Swimming Australia board member Nicole Livingstone described Cameron “as an amazing person who always made time for everyone she met.”
“For me that goes back to 1985 with coach Don Talbot and their son Scott was only four and it has been the same with myself and my own kids right up until the Commonwealth Games just recently,” said Livingstone.
“Her ability to speak to people, to say hello and find out about you and your world and to be able to draw people together was phenomenal.
“She was a true trail blazer in coaching and especially female coaching, to lose her will truly be a huge loss.
“Jan was a mentor to so many who would break their own way through and our thoughts go out to Jan’s family, it’s just so, sad.”
Jan Murphy originally swam with Forbes Carlile and joined Don Talbot’s squad after the 1966 Commonwealth Games and began her coaching career in 1968 at a small New South Wales club in Port Kembla.
Jan married Don in 1973 after the pair had gone to Canada after the 1972 Olympics and she became Don’s assistant coach at Thunder Bay. Don and Jan were married for 15 years – but remained connected through their passion for swimming and coaching.
That passion grew and Jan expanded her experience working in Canada, USA and New Zealand. She was a strong advocate for achieving more and doing better than your best, in all aspects of life.
Jan made a significant contribution to team New Zealand as an Olympic coach at the Sydney Games in 2000. And more success followed as the Head Coach for New Zealand at the Olympic Games in Athens, 2004 and Beijing in 2008.
Finally, back on home soil, she represented Australia as a coach at the 2014 Para Pan Pacific Championships, the 2014 Brazil Open, the 2015 Berlin Open, the 2015 IPC World Championships and 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
Impressively her squad of six swimmers won 10 medals at the 2015 IPC World Championships.
One of Jan’s biggest coaching accolades came in 2015 when she was announced as just the third Australian woman to gain her Platinum Coaching License following on from her swimmers’ outstanding results at the 2015 IPC World Championships in Glasgow.
With only 23 Platinum level coaches nation-wide, Jan joined an elite group, including both Ursula Carlile and Tracey Menzies as the only three Australian female coaches that achieved this level of recognition.
Jan held the position of Head Coach of the University of Sunshine Coast Para Program from April 2014 until Nathan Doyle took over in February 2017.
In February 2017, Jan was announced as the National Para Sport Mentor Coach; helping to develop technical knowledge to guide and further upskill our emerging Para coaches and played a vital role as part of the Coaching Leadership Team created by Swimming Australia.
Just this month Jan was appointed as Head Para Mentor Coach for the 2018 Commonwealth Games team where she played a vital role in the team’s success on the Gold Coast. This also marked a significant milestone - 50 years in the coaching game.
Swimming Australia will advise an appropriate memorial in due course. Our thoughts are with Jan’s husband Kevin and family, and friends at this sad time.