John Gordon, 1945 – 2021.

John Gordon was simply one of the most intense, enthusiastic and committed swimmers and coaches that you will ever meet.  His very sudden death, at the age of 76, has been a great and tragic shock to many.

John Gordon was the founder of Spencer Swim Team, based at Spencer Park School Adult Education Complex in Wandsworth, where John was a tutor. From the humble beginnings of a 20-yard training pool, John grew the club in a few short years to become one of the most successful Masters clubs in Britain, if not the World.

John was an outstanding swimmer and very hard trainer in pool and gym.  He represented England at Commonwealth and Empire Games in Jamaica 1966 where he recorded 7th in the 440 yards Individual Medley in a time of 5.15.

John was an individual medley swimmer who excelled at Backstroke.  

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.

John was a pioneer of Masters swimming, taking Spencer Swim Team to the US Short Course Masters, Hall of Fame pool, Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1980 and 1982.  The team included Dave Mace, Tony Pearce, John Gordon, Godfrey Admans, John Middleton and Jack Hale. In 1978, John, together with Vic Lohr and Tony Pearce, made Spencer Swim Team the first British Masters Team to compete at an overseas Masters Meet at Brown University, Rhode Island.

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

  • Blackpool 1987 (E), G 100 and 200 Back.
  • Casablanca 1998 (W) S B S 200 100 50 Bk respectively. G 4 x 50 Mixed Medley Relay. (Pictured below with Amanda Heath, Carol Fellows, Tony Cherrington)
  • Mallorca 2001 (W) G 200 IM, S 200 Bk, B 50 Bk 55-59.

As examples of his national dominance, at the inaugural British Long Course Championships, in Aberavon, John won the 50, 100 and 200 Back and took silvers in the 50 and 100 Free, setting the British record in the 50 back. In 1990, John won 7 events at the GB Masters in the 45-49 age group, 50, 100 & 200 Back and Free and 200 IM, and he continued to break British records as he moved into the 50-54 and 55-59 age groups.

John had a love of cars and was easy to spot in South-West London in his Rolls Royce, Jaguar and later other sports and classic cars back in the day and in later years spent much of his time in Thailand.

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

Dave Mace trophy winner, Godfrey Admans, and John Middleton met John Gordon for a social drink only two weeks ago and John looked in good health.  His passing is therefore even more shocking.

Update – 6 October 2021

John Gordon’s funeral has been arranged for Monday 25th October at 9:20am. The funeral will take place at North East Surrey Crematorium, Morden.


  1. As I recollect John was first and foremost competed at backstroke. U16 (Junior). Then, I used to compete against him. Eventually, he made the GB Team. However, he then suffered a perforated lung. However, he recovered, And when he fully returned to swimming competitively again he eventually swam for England in the 1966 Empire Games at Jamaica at IM! Remarkable. As a Senior swimmer with Otter Swimming Club I swam with John and GB 1968 Olympic Captain Tony Jarvis in winning the GLC 1970 200 Free Relay. 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. We had one aim. As a team to compete in the U.S LC Nationals. John had to write for permission from the ASA to compete abroad. I had to gain qualifying times by competing in the Open Surrey Championships. Well into my 30’s. Not easy by any means. Not only physical barriers, but social ones too. John has given masters swimming in this country a respectability that will last forever.
    From us all in British Masters Swimming.
    Thanks John.

  2. John Gordon’s Funeral. Tony Pearce’s Eulogy. “There is an old saying. They just don’t make them like that anymore. With John they didn’t. There was only one John Gordon. Thanks John.”

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