Most of us Spit Club members can’t imagine swimming more than a few metres of butterfly. But we relish the opportunity to watch more able bathers battling it out for the 50m Brett Hill trophy tomorrow morning and the 100m trophy next week.
Brett Hill was an Australian butterfly champion and much-loved brother to Kerrie Osborne (our trusty time-keeper and much, much more). As a young boy his swimming talents were nurtured at the Spit baths when be became a member of the club in 1948. In 1962 he went on to represent Australia at the Empire Games in Perth, where he won a bronze medal for the 200m butterfly race. He also took part in a 1963 World Swimming Tour with 14 swimmers who made up the Australian team. They toured Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom, revealing Australia’s swimming strengths.
Brett represented Australia at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games where he made the final of the 200m butterfly, coming 7th. In 1966, after attending the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica he returned home with a silver medal for the 200m butterfly, after being pipped to the gold podium in the final stroke.
He was a popular swimming coach and teacher at Willoughby Leisure Centre coaching many Spit club members. This is where he died tragically early, following a swim and doing what he loved best, of a heart attack in 2002.
Swimmers who train at Mosman Swim Centre might like to cast their eyes over the Mosman Sporting Wall of Fame, on their right as they enter the pool. They can see several Spit swimmers, including Brett, memorialized there.
Before his death Brett donated his trophy to encourage Spit club members to swim butterfly. I delight in the fact that my eight year old daughter’s favourite stroke is ‘fly and that she can’t wait to compete in this race tomorrow morning.