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Tributes paid to Commonwealth Games finalist and Spencer Swim Team founder

One of the pioneers of Masters swimming in England has died at the age of 76. 

John Gordon was the founder of Spencer Swim Team, which is now regarded as one of the most successful Masters clubs in the country

Tributes have been paid to John, who also represented England at the 1966 Commonwealth and Empire Games in Kingston, Jamaica, finishing seventh in the 440 yards Individual Medley in a time of 5:15.

He created Spencer Swim Team in 1977 from the humble beginnings of a 20-yard training pool at Spencer Park School Adut Education Centre in Wandsworth.

In 1978, John, together with Vic Lohr and Tony Pearce, ensured Spencer Swim Team were the first British Masters Team to compete at an overseas Masters Meet at Brown University, Rhode Island.

John also took the team to the US Short Course Masters, Hall of Fame pool, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1980 and 1982.  

He held numerous British Masters records and won countless titles.

Steve Baker, the head coach of Spencer Swim Team and a past President of the London region, said: “John was simply one of the most intense, enthusiastic and committed swimmers and coaches that you will ever meet.

“His very sudden death has been a great and tragic shock to many.

Enthusiastic competitor

“John was an outstanding swimmer and very hard trainer in pool and gym.

“As a young swimmer, he was swimming 30,000 metres plus a week without the use of goggles and most of his training was on his own. A major feat of physical and mental commitment and strength.

“An enthusiastic competitor in Masters swimming from the outset, he consistently won World, European and National medals of all colours and set records

“His contribution to Spencer Swim Team cannot be underestimated as founder and early driving force.”

Tony also posted a tribute to John on the Spencer Swim Team’s website.

He wrote: “As one of the founder members of Spencer Swim in 1977, I swam under John. 

“Back then, he was not just the coach. He was the initiator of a completely new genre. In my opinion that period between 1977 to 1978 was the true beginning of Masters swimming in this country.

“John has given Masters swimming in this country a respectability that will last forever.”