The Champions Just Keep Coming

Tribute by Don Talbot

It was 32 years ago that swimming coach Ken Wood moved to Townsville to replace Laurie Lawrence, who took over NSM Hurstville Club when Don Talbot accepted a position in Canada. In the nine years that Wood coached in Townsville, Lesleigh Hervey was selected on Australa's 1976 Olympic team and Michelle Pearson moved from Bundaberg to train with Wood and gained selection on Australia's 1978 Commonwealth Games Team for Canada. Freestyle sprinter Fiona Moore gained selection on two Australian teams. In 1973 she defeated Tracy Wickham at Crystal Palace London in the 100m Freestyle.

It was 1975 that Wood's Townsville Squad won the gold medal count at the Queensland Championships. This achievement has not been equalled previously, or since, in any state in Australia, where a country club defeated metropolitan clubs.

In 1981 Coach Wood was offered a position at the Australia Institute of Sport womens swim team, working with Bill Sweetinham. In 1984 together they placed seven women on Australia's Olympic Team.

Wood returned to Brisbane in 1984 and set up his programme at De Las Salle College's 50m-Heated complex at Scarborough, moving to Redcliffe Memorial Pool with business partner John Dempsey when that pool was upgraded to an indoor facility in 2001.

Legendary Australian Olympic Coach Don Talbot stated recently that Wood's club programme over a 20-year period was arguably the most prolific producer of Australia representatives in recent history. He attributed this success to Wood's coaching philosophy of discipline and constantly challenging his swimmers to take that extra step. Talbot stated he has serious concerns in the trends appearing with some Australian coaches tending to allow their swimmers to do that they want to do, instead of what they have to do.

Don Talbot's swimmers have won 13 Individual Olympic gold medals.

Since 1985 swimmers coached by Wood have been representative on Australia teams every year up to and including 2012.

The achievements over the past 20 years include:

  • Queensland State Gold Medallists - in excess of 345
  • National Open Gold Medallists - 86
  • National Age Gold Medallists - 152
  • International Gold Medallists (including relays) - 61
  • World Records (short and long course, not including relays) - 15
  • Olympic Records - 8
  • Australia Records - 110
  • Squad Swimmers Represented Australia 108 times since 1984
  • Wood has coached on 28 Australian Teams since 1984 including Olympic Games, World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacific Games.

From 2004 onwards:

  • 2004 Mare Nostrum (Europe): Geoff Huegill, Leisel Jones, Jessicah Schipper
  • 2004 Olympics (Athens, Greece): Geoff Huegill, Leisel Jones, Jessicah Schipper
  • 2004 Paralympics (Athens, Greece): Alastair Smales
  • 2004 Oceania Open Water Championships (Suva, Fiji): Nicole Hunter
  • 2004 Paralympics (Athens, Greece): Alastair Smales
  • 2004 World Short Course Championships (Indiana, USA): Melissa Gorman, Jessicah Schipper
  • 2005 Junior Pan Pacifics (Hawaii, USA): Astrid Wonka
  • 2005 Youth Olympic Festival (Sydney, Australia): Kylie Palmer
  • 2005 World Cerebral Palsy Games (Connecticut, USA): Samantha Callow
  • 2005 World Championships (Montreal, Canada): Jessicah Schipper (Pool), Kate Brookes-Peterson (Open Water)
  • 2006 World Short Course Championships (Shanghai, China): Jessicah Schipper, Melissa Gorman, Kylie Palmer
  • 2006 Commonwealth Games (Melbourne, Australia): Jessicah Schipper, Melissa Gorman, Kylie Palmer
  • 2006 Mare Nostrum (Europe): Kylie Palmer
  • 2006 Tran Tasman Team (Australia): Jack Nunn
  • 2006 Pan Pacifics (Victoria, Canada): Jessicah Schipper, Melissa Gorman, Kylie Palmer, Casey Flouch
  • 2006 World Open Water Championships (Naples, Italy): Kate Brookes-Peterson
  • 2007 World Championships (Melbourne, Australia): Kylie Palmer (Pool), Jessicah Schipper (Pool), Kate Brookes-Peterson (Open Water)
  • 2007 Pan Pacifics (Melbourne, Australia): Kate Brookes-Peterson, Melissa¬†Gorman (Pool, Open Water)
  • 2007 World International Cup (Japan): Jessicah Schipper
  • 2008 World Open Water Championships (Seville, Spain): Kate Brookes-Peterson, Melissa Gorman
  • 2008 Olympics (Beijing, China): Jessicah Schipper (Pool), Melissa Gorman (Pool, Open Water)
  • 2009 World Championships (Rome, Italy): Melissa Gorman (Pool, Open Water)
  • 2010 Oceania Championships (Samoa): Matthew Terry
  • 2010 World Open Water Championships (Roberval, Canada): Melissa Gorman
  • 2010 Pan Pacifics (California, USA): Melissa Gorman (Pool, Open Water)
  • 2010 Commonwealth Games (Delhi, India): Melissa Gorman
  • 2011 World Championships (Shanghai, China): Melissa Gorman (Pool, Open Water)
  • 2011 Fran Crippen Open Water Invitational (USA): Melissa Gorman
  • 2011 Special Olympics World Games (Athens, Greece): Ethan Chan
  • 2011 Open Water Test Event (London, England): Melissa Gorman
  • 2011 Global Games (Italy): Ethan Chan
  • 2011 World Championships (Shanghai, China): Melissa Gorman (Pool, Open Water)
  • 2012 Oceania Championships (New Caledonia): Melissa Gorman (Open Water), Lorna Tonks (Pool), Emily Seymour (Open Water)
  • 2012 Olympics (London, England): Melissa Gorman (Open Water)
  • 2012 Junior Pan Pacifics (Hawaii, USA): Emily Seymour (Open Water)
  • 2013 World Championships (Barcelona, Spain): Melissa Gorman (Open Water)