Armidale’s first Olympian, John Monckton, has died.
The swimmer, after whom the Armidale aquatic centre is named, won silver in the 100m backstroke event at the Melbourne Games in 1956.
Monckton died peacefully at his home on the mid north coast in the early hours of Thursday morning after a long illness. He was 79.
The Monckton Aquatic Centre also commemorated former Mayor Thomas Monckton, John's father and owner of the Armidale Olympic Swimming Pool from 1926 until 1956 when he sold it to the city council.
Monckton spent his youth growing up in Armidale and spent everyday training in the town pool that was owned by his father.
He trained at the pool under the guidance of his father, and his family lived in a house behind the pool.
As well as his Olympic silver medal, Monckton also won medals at the Commonwealth Games and at one stage held almost every world record in backstroke.
He became a dual Olympian when he contested the same event at the Rome Games in 1960, but failed to emulate his Melbourne victory when he finished seventh in the final.
However, Monckton did add gold to his medal collection, with wins in the 110 yards backstroke and 4x 110 yards medley relay, with Gary Chapman, John Devitt and Terry Gathercole, at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales.
Monckton was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1999.
He met his wife, Maureen Giles, when they were children and she swam with the same enthusiasm, having been told that the activity would help her combat the effects of polio, which she had suffered as a child.
She also competed at the Melbourne Olympics.
The couple moved to the Nambucca Valley to run a hotel for several years, before retiring to the banks of the Nambucca River.
They embarked on a decade-long fight against the state government’s wetland conservation policy of the 1990s from the Nambucca Heads home.
His funeral service will be held on Tuesday, July 6 at All Saints Anglican Church in Stuart's Point, starting at 1pm.