Otago Olympian dies, aged 89

Jean Hurring
Jean Hurring
One of Otago and New Zealand’s greatest swimmers, Jean Hurring, died aged 89 in Auckland on Sunday.

Hurring (nee Stewart) claimed bronze in the 100m backstroke at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games in 1min 15.8sec.

It was New Zealand’s first swimming medal and remains the only one won by a New Zealand woman. It was also the country’s only swimming medal until Paul Goldsmith’s bronze in 1988.

She roomed with fellow Otago medallist and New Zealand’s only other women’s competitor Yvette Corlett (nee Williams) at the Games.

Hurring also won silver at the 1950 Empire Games, as well as bronze in the 1954 Games, both in the 110 yards backstroke.

Born in Dunedin, she was educated at Otago Girls’ High School and married fellow Dunedin Olympic swimmer Lincoln Hurring, who died in 1993.

While New Zealand had no swimming coach, she was mentored by Bill Wallace, who was described as an ‘‘enthusiast’’.

His interest in horse racing paved way for her to develop interval training, while she also created a pulley system in her bedroom for swimming-specific weight training.

She attended the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, retiring afterwards.

From there she moved to Auckland with Lincoln, and remained heavily involved in swimming with a focus on learn-to-swim classes.

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