Early Swimming Siblings | 100 Year Moments

It was in water-polo, in 1924, that Ireland first made waves in an Olympic swimming pool and another men’s water polo team took part four years later when Irish swimming history was made. That was when the first two swimmers took part; William Broderick in 400m freestyle and Marquerite Dockrell in 100m freestyle. Broderick, from the Clonard club in West Belfast, was reportedly only 19 at the time and finish fourth in his heat in Amsterdam. A fluent Gaelic speaker who worked in Belfast Post Office he gained renown later as a beautiful singer. Dockrell, who went to Alexandra College and swam for the Dublin Swimming Club was even younger, just 16 when she finished third in her heat.

She dominated the Irish national championships from 1926-1930, winning multiple freestyle titles at 100 and 200 yards, the only competitive swimming events for Irish women at that

time. She married a British banker in 1940, moved to live in Dorset and died in Weymouth in 1983. She was also the third Olympian in her family. Her uncle George Dockrell was a legendary character, a swimmer and water polo star who swam for Great Britain in the 1908 Olympics. Her brother Hayes also competed for Ireland in 1928 as part of the water polo team who lost 11-1 in a knockout game against Belgium. Hayes was only 15 when he won the Liffey Swim in 1922 and he won the Irish mile freestyle title in 1923 and 1924. He went on to study medicine in Trinity, attained the rank of colonel in the British Army and was elected mayor of Northampton in 1967. Ireland would not have any swimmers at the Olympic Games for another 40 years, until Donnacha O’Dea, Liam Ball, Anne O’Connor and Vivienne Smith competed in Mexico in 1968.

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