Class of 1957
Tom is the epitome of the old Greek maxim “healthy body, healthy mind”.
He went through Aquinas College in the stellar year that was 1957 and has dominated the Australian water polo scene for 30 years since. He sat alongside Fred Chaney, Geoff Gibbs as well as many future doctors and lawyers of Perth in his class.
Tom arrived at Aquinas as a day boy at the age of seven, the son of a publican and newsagent in East Fremantle. Later his parents ran the Avon Bridge Hotel in Northam. He left the school having made the most of his time here as Head Prefect, Second in Class with Football Honours, the Ken Kelsall Prize for Mathematics and the Prize for Foreign Languages as well as having been a member of the Swimming Team from 1952-57. According to Tom his passion for swimming began at Aquinas College but having joined the Melville Swimming Club, he didn’t really excel straight away. Looking back he recalls that the school’s pool was also not an inspiring place: “a horse trough with chlorine”.
Languages were his first love on leaving school and he completed his Masters in Munster, Germany before teaching at Hale. He was selected for and captained the Olympic Water Polo team in 1960 and was there to see fellow Old Aquinian Herb Elliot run. Water polo was underfunded in Australia and so in preparation for the next Olympics, Tom led an initiative to train the team in Hungary where he lived for four months sharpening his linguistic skills and training for forthcoming matches.
Tom played for WA in 1959 and competed until he retired in 1972. He was captain coach from 1964 to 1972 during which time he was selected to play in the Tokyo, Mexico and Munich Olympic Games. Tom coached the national team for four Olympic Games from 1976 to 1988 including Australia’s best-ever placing of fifth in the 1984 LA Games.
His stamina in the water is legendary. He once swam five kilometres through Perth entirely in butterfly. Tom was regarded by his contemporaries as a fine team man with international-class skills. He was, and still is, a shrewd tactician with the rare capacity to read the pattern of the game and capitalise on an opponent’s weaknesses. He looks back and says: “Aquinas College was a huge influence and I loved it every day here”.