Jon Henricks

Jon Henricks

John ("Jon") Malcolm Henricks (born 6 June 1935) started his swimming career as a distance swimmer, scoring his first real successes in 1952 when he came in 3rd in the Australian 1500 meters, 2nd in the 800, and won the 400 meters. The distance work proved too arduous, perhaps due to a prolonged ear infection that kept him off the 1952 Summer Olympics team. With reluctance, his coach Harry Gallagher converted him to sprints. Henricks shocked both his coach and the Australian swimming community by promptly breaking the Olympic record for 100 meters in the Australian Championships of 1953. He subsequently held the fastest time in the world over 100 meters long course for five years, winning two gold medals in 1956 (100m and 4x200m). He lowered the existing record by almost 2 seconds.

During that time, he won ten Australian Individual Championships in those events, two British Empire Games medals establishing new records in 1954, the Japanese Nationals, the Keo Nakama meet in Hawaii, the Philippine Nationals, and broke two American records while on a visit in 1954. In 1958, he won the American National (outdoor) 100 and 200 meters. He was named Australian Athlete of the Year by the Helms Hall of Fame in 1955.

As a freshman at U.S.C. he teamed with Murray Rose, Don Reddington, Tom Winters, and Denis Devine, a five man Freshman team that broke the New Haven Swim Club's dynastic grasp on the indoor AAUs. Daland had been a former Yale assistant considered least likely to succeed. This U.S.C. frosh team grew to a giant machine in the late fifties and early sixties, dominating the Pacific 8 Conference and winning four consecutive National Collegiate titles.

In 1960 Henricks made another attempt at the Olympics, winning the Australian trials handily. His attempt came to grief over what was euphemistically referred to as the "Roman Tummy", and John Devitt and Lance Larson were left to battle it out. He had mixed feelings viewing that race, as both were teammates; Lance on Jon's U.S.C. team, Devitt on his Australian team. The fastest man in the world, at that time, Jeff Farrell, also glumly watched the race from the sidelines.

Henricks did win in another way in 1960, marrying an American girl - Bonnie Wilkie, sister of one of his U.S.C. teammates Mike Wilkie. Both the Australian and American teams attended the wedding, which produced the historic picture of Larson and Devitt hugging each other.

Achievements

  • 1952 Australian Championships: gold medal in 400m freestyle, silver in 800m freestyle, bronze in 1500m freestyle
  • Australian Athlete of the year in 1955
  • 1956 Olympic Games: Gold medals in 100m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay
  • 1953-1958 Australian Championships: 10 gold medals in 100m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay
  • British Empire Games: 2 medals
  • Japanese Nationals: 1 medal
  • Keo Nakam meet: 1 medal
  • Philippine Nationals: 1 medal
  • American Nationals (outdoor): 100m and 200m freestyle medals in 1958
  • American Records: 2
  • Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1973

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