Athlete


Date Inducted: 12 Dec 1990
Sport: Swimming
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Brad Cooper - Swimming

During the summer of 1971/72, Brad commenced an assault on state, Australian, Commonwealth, and world records. In 1971 at a state arranged distance meet on December 12, Brad smashed the New South Wales and Australian record for the 1500m freestyle with a time of 16:14.20 seconds. Exactly one month later at North Sydney, Brad took five seconds off Graham Windeatt's world record for the 800m freestyle.

During 1971 Brad also decided to improve his backstroke times, such was his versatility, and he lowered the Australian 100m and 200m backstroke record on 12 occasions.

In 1972, Brad decided to concentrate on the 400m freestyle as there was no 800m at the Olympics. At the Australian championships on February 12, 1972, Brad won the 400m freestyle creating a world record time of 4:01.70 seconds.

He represented Australia at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. In one of the greatest freestyle races at the Games, Brad, leading most of the final 200m of the 400m race, was out touched by Rick DeMont by one hundredth of a second. Due to Rick's asthma medication, he was stripped of the gold medal, and it was awarded to Brad. Cooper's time was an Olympic record on its own. He also swam in the 1500m (7th in the final), the 200m backstroke (4th in the final), and the 4 x 200m freestyle relay (5th in the final).

He represented Australia at the inaugural 1973 World Championships. In a rematch of the Munich Games 400m, Cooper, trailing DeMont, made a final burst of speed in the last 30 meters. DeMont wanted to win and got it, but they both broke the four minute barrier. Cooper took silver with a time of 3:58.70 seconds. He also won silver in the 4x200m freestyle relay in a time of 7:43.65 seconds (Commonwealth record) and bronze in the 1500m freestyle in a time of 15:45.04 seconds.

Cooper's versatility in the distance events was again proven one year later at the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games. Cooper, proving he still had it in him, won the gold in the 200m backstroke, a silver in the 400m freestyle and a bronze in the 100m backstroke. From 200m to 1500m, Brad Cooper was a force to be reckoned with in all international events during the early 1970s.

When Brad retired from top competitive swimming in 1975 he had created 27 Australian records, won 17 Australian titles, numerous NSW and Queensland titles, created two world records and 14 Commonwealth records. He was the first Australian and the second in the world to swim under four minutes for the 400m freestyle, the first Australian to break 16 minutes for the 1500m freestyle; and the first Australian to swim under one minute for the 100m backstroke.

A remarkable athlete, he retired at just 20 years of age.

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When considering the stature of an athlete or for that matter any person, I set great store in certain qualities which I believe to be essential in addition to skill. They are that the person conducts his of her life with dignity, with integrity, courage, and perhaps most of all, with modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition, and competitiveness.