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Carlile remembered as swimming pioneer

AAP logoAAP 2/08/2016 By Laine Clark

Even up to his final moments, Forbes Carlile was re-inventing swimming.

Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren has revealed Carlile only recently armed him with revolutionary tips for the Dolphins' Rio Olympic campaign, after learning of the death of his idol aged 95.

Carlile first coached the Australian swimming team at the London Olympics in 1948 before competing in the modern pentathlon at the Helsinki Games in 1952.

He became the only Australian to first coach at and then compete in the Olympics.

Carlile was briefly Australia's oldest living Olympian, having assumed the mantle following last week's death of 1956 fencing team member Helen Joy Hardon on the NSW Central Coast.

But Verhaeren said he would remember Carlile as a coaching pioneer - and a friend.

"He was ahead of his time," he told AAP.

"Until his last days I spoke to him.

"He was still talking about new training methods.

"If you do that at 95 I think that is very special."

During his coaching career Carlile produced 52 Australian team representatives, who broke a total of 31 individual world records.

Master Dutch mentor Verhaeren rated Carlile Australia's greatest ever swimming coach.

"He contributed many training methods but he invented the phenomenon of taper - resting up before competition," Verhaeren said.

"That was at a time if you can imagine when people said 'no we need to work harder to get better results'.

"To think the opposite and convince people to do things differently really made him special.

"For me he is the best coach Australia has ever had in swimming."

In his later coaching career, Carlile played a key role in producing the likes of Shane Gould, Karen Moras and Terry Gathercole.

Under Carlile, a 15-year-old Gould won five individual medals, including three gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

She also held world records in five freestyle distances as well as the 200m individual medley.

Verhaeren made a name for himself coaching Dutch world beaters Pieter van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn.

But he reckons he would never compare to Carlile, who he remembered fondly as the former Dutch national coach at the 1964 Olympics - even if Carlile gave him the ultimate compliment by insisting on meeting Verhaeren when the Dutch master took over the Dolphins reins in 2013.

"When I came to Australia he wanted to meet me unbelievably and I wanted to meet him big time," Verhaeren said.

"I was so honoured to finally meet my swimming guru.

"After that he sometimes sent me emails with recommendations about swimming and I know he did that with other coaches.

"He was incredibly sharp right until his last moments."

Carlile was inducted into the Australian Sports Hall of Fame in 1989.

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