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Australian Dolphins | 15 August 2023

Swimming Australia pays tribute to Bruce Bourke

SWIMMING Australia has paid tribute to the late Bruce Bourke who competed for Australia at the 1948 London Olympics.

Bruce, Dolphin No. 54 pictured above winning his heat in Lane 1 of the 100m backstroke at 1948 Olympics, was the first Australian to break the minute for the 100m freestyle with the time of 59.7 seconds at the North Sydney Pool in February 1948.

He was ranked 5th in the world in 100m freestyle in 1948 and competed in both the 100m Freestyle and 100m Backstroke at the 1948 Olympic Games.

On the eve of the 2012 London Olympic Games, the Sydney resident revealed he stole an Olympic flag last time London hosted the games, when he was just a teenager.

The then 19-year-old Bourke joined two fellow Australian swimmers for a drink after he finished his events at the 1948 games, News Limited reported.

“I said to the two blokes, ‘I’m going to knock that Olympic flag off,'” told News Ltd.  He then declined to comment on the escapade preferring to keep the details secret.

Bruce was also a multiple Australian Surf Life Saving Champion.

He was a proud father of son Glenn, who followed in his footsteps with Olympic selection in the Australian Sailing Team for Moscow 1980 and Barcelona 1992.

Just before his passing, he was very proud to have had his grandson Tyler, an Australian Age backstroke champion represent Australia at the World Aquatics U20 Water Polo Championships in Romania in June.

Bruce passed away on 21 June 2023. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jenny, his son Glenn and daughter Christie and their families.

The AOC has offered the Olympic flag to his family, without the colourful history of his 1948 Olympic flag.