07 Aug 2016
August 7, 2016

Vale Forbes Carlile MBE

Narrabeen Swimming Club members mourn the passing of Forbes Carlile on 2nd August 2016.

Our founder, our mentor and inspiration, Forbes established the Narrabeen Swimming Club at Sydney Academy of Sport, Narrabeen in 1977.

His innovative and scientific approach to competitive swimming and coaching has produced 52 members of the Australian Olympic, World Championship and Commonwealth Games teams. The swimmers he coached achieved 12 Olympic medals including 5 individual gold medals and 31 individual world records.

Forbes, the memory of your devotion to the coaching and welfare of our swimmers will live with us forever.

Below is the Carlile Swimming Media Release dated Tuesday 2nd August 2016.

Forbes Carlile passes at age 95

Earlier today, Australian Swimming legend Forbes Carlile MBE passed away at age 95.

Carlile was Australia’s first post-World War II Olympics swimming coach in 1948. He was also Australia’s first competitor in the modern pentathlon at the 1952 Olympics Games in Helsinki.

Forbes was a coach to many Australian champions. During his coaching career he produced 52 Australian team representatives, who have broken 31 individual world records between them. In all, he participated in 5 Olympic Games – London, Helsinki, Melbourne, Rome and Tokyo between 1948 and 1964. He was also selected as the Head Swimming coach at the 1980 Moscow Olympics but later withdrew.

Carlile studied at the University of Sydney under Professor Frank Cotton, graduating and later lecturing in human physiology. Together with Professor Cotton, they set up Australia’s first Sports Science lab at the University of Sydney. In 1946, at the Palm Beach rock pool, the pair set up a scientific swimming group. It was here that Forbes was able to structure training and measure the performance of athletes year round.

It was also at Palm Beach that Forbes first introduced the pace clock. This innovation has left the Carlile stamp on virtually every pool deck around the world.

His book, Forbes Carlile on Swimming, was the first modern book on competitive swimming with its study of tapering and the historical development of the crawl. Other books by Carlile include A History of Crawl Stroke Techniques to the 1960s.

In 1977, Carlile was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame at Fort Lauderdale, USA. Other awards include the Queens Jubilee Medal (1977), ASI Life Member (2003) and NSSA Hall of Fame (2003). In 1977, Carlile was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to swimming. In 1984, Carlile was inducted as a Life Member of the Australian Swim Coaches Association. In 1987, he was inducted as a Master Coach with the association. In 1989, Carlile was inducted into the Australian Sports Hall of Fame.

While competitive swimming has been Forbes’ primary passion, he has been a pioneer in the development of learn-to-swim techniques, especially in the area of baby swimming.

In 1961, together with his wife Ursula, the he built the first Indoor heated teaching facility in NSW, in the backyard of their home at Cross Street in Ryde. Carlile Swimming continues to operate out of this facility today.

Today, Carlile Swimming teaches over 25,000 children to learn to swim each week across 9 swim schools. In over 50 years, Carlile learn-to-swim centres have no doubt taught more Australians to swim than any other learn-to-swim school.

The guiding principle for the learn-to-swim programs is encapsulated in Forbes’s motto:

“To swim well is an asset for life.”

Forbes is survived by his wife Ursula, who in her own right is considered a legend of both Australian and international swimming.

Carlile Swimming Director, Richard Cahalan, said “the Carlile Swimming family is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of the founder, Forbes Carlile. A pioneer, an innovator, a scientist and widely considered as ‘swimming’s conscience’, Forbes will be sorely missed by his staff, his swimmers, his coaching peers and the worldwide swimming community. Our hearts go out to Ursula at this very sad time.”

Click on the link below to download selected pictures and videos of Forbes and Ursula.


Sam Coutts

Communications & Technology Manager
Carlile Swimming