Ian Black (swimmer)

Ian MacIntosh Black (born 27 June 1941) is a Scottish former competitive swimmer who represented Great Britain in international competition, including the Olympics and European championships, and Scotland in the Commonwealth Games, during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Ian Black
Personal information
Full nameIan MacIntosh Black
National team Great Britain
Born (1941-06-27) 27 June 1941
Inverness, Scotland
Height1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight72 kg (159 lb; 11.3 st)
StrokesButterfly, freestyle, medley

Swimming career

Black was BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1958 at the age of only 17, and is still to date the youngest winner of the award.[1] He earned the BBC honour by winning three gold medals in the 400- and 1500-metre freestyle events, as well as the 200-metre butterfly, at the 1958 European Championships in Budapest, Hungary.[2][3] In the same year, he also won a gold and two silver medals for Scotland at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales; gold in the 220-yard butterfly, silver in the 440-yard freestyle, and silver in the 4×220-yard freestyle relay.[4]

In 1959 he set a new world record in the 400-metre individual medley, 5 minutes 8.8 seconds, a record that would stand for just over a year until broken by swimmer American George Harrison in 1960.[1]

Black qualified to represent Great Britain in three events at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.[5] In the event final of the men's 400-metre freestyle he was placed fourth, posting the same time as Australian John Konrads (4:21.8), but the judges awarded the bronze medal to Konrads.[5] He was also a member of the British teams in the 4x200-metre freestyle relay and 4x100-metre medley relay events, placing fourth and seventh in the finals, respectively.[5]

When competing for Great Britain, he would proudly display his Scottish identity in good humour by wearing a MacGregor tartan dressing gown poolside.[2] As well as excelling in the water, he was also a formidable rugby union player. In 2002 he became one of the first fifty Scottish men and women inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame.[1][3]

He won the 1958 and 1959 ASA National Championship 110 yards freestyle titles,[6][7] the 1958 and 1959 ASA National Championship 220 yards freestyle titles, the 1958 and 1959 ASA National Championship 440 yards freestyle titles [8][9] and the 220 yards butterfly title in 19538 and 1959.[10][11]

Personal life

Black attended Aberdeen University, where he was awarded a Master of Arts and a Certificate in Education. In the late 1970s he became head teacher of Seafield Primary School in Elgin. He taught in Canada and he became headmaster of St Christopher's prep school in Bahrain. In the early 1980s he was headmaster of Sek Kong Primary School in Hong Kong, before moving to Aberlour House School 1987–89. He later returned to his former school, Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen, as headmaster of the Junior School, and retired in 2004.[2]

See also


  1. "Ian Black – swimming record breaker 1958", BBC Scotland (17 October 2014). Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  2. "Black an original Scottish sporting icon", The Scotsman (12 December 2008). Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  3. Scottish Sports Hall of Fame, Inductees, Ian Black. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  4. GBRathletics.com, Commonwealth Games Medallists, Swimming & Diving (Men). Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  5. Sports-Reference.com, Olympic Sports, Athletes, Ian Black Archived 12 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  6. ""Black Gains Four Swimming Titles." Times, 25 Aug. 1958, p. 4". Times Digital Archive.
  7. ""Best Swimmers Prove IT." Times, 7 Sept. 1959, p. 15". Times Digital Archive.
  8. ""Swimming Victory For Black." Times, 23 Aug. 1958, p. 3". Times Digital Archive.
  9. ""Swimmers Protest At Blackpool." Times, 5 Sept. 1959, p. 3". Times Digital Archive.
  10. ""Black Gains Four Swimming Titles." Times, 25 Aug. 1958, p. 4". Times Digital Archive.
  11. ""Best Swimmers Prove IT." Times, 7 Sept. 1959, p. 15". Times Digital Archive.

Preceded by
Vladimir Strushanov
Men's 400-metre individual medley
world record-holder (long course)

6 June 1959 – 24 June 1960
Succeeded by
George Harrison
Preceded by
Dai Rees
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Succeeded by
John Surtees

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