John Ryan (55-59)

John Ryan began at Wesley in 1955. In his final year in 1959 he was a Prefect and House Official (Secretary), as well as being a Cadet Under Officer and a member of the General Sports Committee. However, it was in the pool where John’s talents were showcased.

John’s dominance in the pool began from a young age at Wesley College, where he shattered six PSA (Public Schools’ Association) records in freestyle and backstroke at U/15, U/16 and Open level. As Captain of Swimming in his final year at the College he set three new PSA benchmarks in the Open 220 yards freestyle (2m.22s), the Open 110 yards freestyle (61.1s) and 55 yards backstroke (31.8s). John’s 55 backstroke swim in the School Inter-House competition in 1958 was described as ‘record smashing and a thrilling spectacle.’

After Wesley, John continued with competitive swimming and gained selection for the Australian team that competed at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

He combined with Bob Windle, David Dickson and Peter Doak to win bronze in the 4×100m freestyle relay, behind the United States and Germany, in the first time the event had been contested at the Olympics. He also made the semi-finals of the 100m freestyle.

Ryan later took gold in the 4×100m freestyle relay team that broke the world record at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, and won a silver medal in the 100m butterfly.

Outside of the pool but still in the water, John excelled in Surf Life Saving. He captained the Australian team in 1967 and was inducted into the Surf Life Saving WA Sporting Hall of Fame in 2003, recognising his outstanding achievements and exceptional efforts.

He was Chair of the Sports Federation, the peak industry body for sport and active recreation in Western Australia, and was part of the Sport and Recreation Council established in 1996.

In 2010, John was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to sport in Western Australia.