History Parkes

stories, photos, anecdotes….. sharing the past

Rex Aubrey – Parkes Shire’s first Olympian

With the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Parkes Library history blog will focus on Olympians from the Parkes Shire. Each post will provide a snapshot of the sportsmen and sportswomen who have worn the green and gold and called the Parkes Shire home at some point of their lives. The first sporting star to be featured in our series Olympians from the Parkes Shire is also the first Parkes Shire Olympian, swimmer Rex Aubrey.

Rex Aubrey's exploits kept him on the front page for many editions of local newspaper Parkes Champion Post. Raw talent and dedication were the core ingredients to this teen's achievements. Source: Parkes Champion Post Thursday January 10, 1952

Rex Aubrey’s exploits kept him on the front page for many editions of local newspaper Parkes Champion Post. Raw talent and dedication were the core ingredients to this teen’s achievements. Source: Parkes Champion Post Thursday January 10, 1952

Rex Aubrey was a sporting pioneer for the Parkes Shire, displaying his swimming prowess at State and National Championships before earning selection in the Australian Olympic team that went to the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. His exploits in the pool kept him constantly on the front page of Parkes Champion Post as the local paper assisted the residents of the Parkes Shire to follow and support him. For most of today’s residents of the Shire, Parkes had a very different appearance in Rex’s day. Woolworths had not yet opened its doors and street signs had not yet been erected. To dial the Parkes hospital one would press “15” and advertisements informed that for pain relief it was best to take Bex!

Road to Olympics began at Parkes Swimming Pool as a toddler! Rex Aubrey was introduced to swimming at an early age. Source: Parkes Champion Post March 13, 1952

Road to Olympics began at Parkes Swimming Pool as a toddler! Rex Aubrey was introduced to swimming at an early age. Source: Parkes Champion Post March 13, 1952

The headline proclaims it all - Rex is Australia's Fastest Swimmer! Taking on the world, Rex Aubrey did Parkes Shire and Australia proud. Source: Parkes Champion Post July 28, 1952

The headline proclaims it all – Rex is Australia’s Fastest Swimmer! Taking on the world, Rex Aubrey did Parkes Shire and Australia proud. Source: Parkes Champion Post July 28, 1952

Rex Aubrey was just seventeen years old when he was selected to represent Australia in the Games of the XV Olympiad. Aubrey was selected to compete in the Mens 100m Freestyle and also Mens 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay. In the individual freestyle, Rex won his heat, and finished second in his semi-final. In the final he finished sixth with American swimmer, Clark Scholes, taking gold; Hiroshi Suzuki (Japan) silver; and Sweden’s Göran Larsson claiming the bronze. Rex’s time in the final was 58.7 seconds, with the gold medal being claimed in 57.4 seconds. In the semi-final, Rex swam the fastest time for an Australian at the time – 57.8 – which would have been enough to claim bronze in the final. Source: Wikipedia and NSW Olympic Council website

Aubrey was one of the Australian Mens 4 x 200 metres Freestyle Relay team. The other Australians were Frank O’Neill, Garrick Agnew and John Marshall. Unfortunately for Australia the team did not make the final, finishing third in Heat 1 and having the 9th fastest time (the eight fastest times qualified for the final) Source: Sports Reference website

Parkes Shire farewelled Rex Aubrey with pride that he was a local, remained local to train and was the first Olympian chosen from a country location! Source: Parkes Champion Post June 12, 1952

Parkes Shire farewelled Rex Aubrey with pride that he was a local, remained local to train and was the first Olympian chosen from a country location! Source: Parkes Champion Post June 12, 1952

Attending the Helsinki Olympics meant Rex today is part of the exclusive Kapyla Club – named after the suburb in Helsinki where the Olympic village was located. The comraderie and Aussie sense of humour gained notoriety at the Helsinki Games, with pranks played on fellow countrymen, while respect and training tips were earned from international stars, such as star athlete Emil Zátopek (known as the “Czech Locomotive” and the only person to win 5,000 metres, 10,000 metres and marathon at the same Olympics!) Source: NSW Olympic Council website and Wikipedia

Again on the front pages of the local newspaper, many Shire residents were interested in following the Olympics due to a local competing for the first time. Source: Parkes Champion Post July 14, 1952

Again on the front pages of the local newspaper, many Shire residents were interested in following the Olympics due to a local competing for the first time. Source: Parkes Champion Post July 14, 1952

While the 1952 version of Parkes is vastly different to today, the journey of an Australian Olympian is also tremendously varied from those about to go to Rio de Janeiro. Athletes were amateur and most of the 84 strong team had to pay their own fare to Finland (a total of £750 which in current currency is approximately $26,369 as checked on Reserve Bank of Australia’s Pre-Decimal Inflation Converter). This meant that all of the Australian athletes were involved in fundraising before departing for Finland. Parkes Shire contributed to the fund raising efforts, and the interest intensified once Rex Aubrey was selected on the Australian team.

Amateur athletes, such as those in 1952, needed to raise their own funds to be able to travel to Olympic Games. While Parkes Shire residents had raised funds for previous Australian teams attending the Olympic Games, this time one of their own was competing. Tables such as the one shown were regular features in the lead up to the Helsinki Games, with many individuals and businesses supporting Rex in particular. Source: Parkes Champion Post June 12 1952

Amateur athletes, such as those in 1952, needed to raise their own funds to be able to travel to Olympic Games. While Parkes Shire residents had raised funds for previous Australian teams attending the Olympic Games, this time one of their own was competing. Tables such as the one shown were regular features in the lead up to the Helsinki Games, with many individuals and businesses supporting Rex in particular. Source: Parkes Champion Post June 12 1952

Boost to fund for all athletes. Rex Aubrey was invited to a special meeting in Council Chambers so that members of the public could congratulate him on his inclusion in the Australian Olympic team. Source: Parkes Champion Post February 28, 1952

Boost to fund for all athletes. Rex Aubrey was invited to a special meeting in Council Chambers so that members of the public could congratulate him on his inclusion in the Australian Olympic team. Source: Parkes Champion Post February 28, 1952

After Helsinki, Aubrey received offers from numerous American colleges. He decided on Yale University, where his swimming achievements continued. Source: Parkes Champion Post July 7 1952

After Helsinki, Aubrey received offers from numerous American colleges. He decided on Yale University, where his swimming achievements continued. Source: Parkes Champion Post July 7 1952

Rex Aubrey went on to further swimming success in the United States of America when he attended Yale University. He set a then world record time of 49 seconds for the 1oo yards freestyle. While Rex Aubrey did not compete at any other Olympic Games, he did represent Australia at the 1954 Vancouver Empire Games (now called Commonwealth Games). Rex Aubrey was school captain of Parkes High School in 1951, and his school record time in 50 metres freestyle lasted for 17 years before finally being broken. Rex Aubrey was awarded the Parkes High Achiever award in 2004 and returned to Parkes in 2006 for the Parkes High School 75th Reunion. Parkes has honoured its first Olympian by naming a street after him – Rex Aubrey Place.

Parkes Shire's first Olympian remains down-to-earth, returning from the US to attend the Parkes High School 75th Reunion in 2006. Named Parkes High Achiever in 2004, Rex is catching up with former classmate Bob Barter. Source: Parkes Champion Post Wednesday August 23, 2016

Parkes Shire’s first Olympian remains down-to-earth, returning from the US to attend the Parkes High School 75th Reunion in 2006. Named Parkes High Achiever in 2004, Rex is catching up with former classmate Bob Barter. Source: Parkes Champion Post Wednesday August 23, 2016

Just four years after competing in his first Olympics, Rex Aubrey became the world record holder for 100 yards freestyle. Source: Trove

Just four years after competing in his first Olympics, Rex Aubrey became the world record holder for 100 yards freestyle. Source: Trove

Rex returns to Parkes.... and the front page! Returning for the 75th celebration of Parkes High School and to award the 2006 Parkes High Achiever Award, Rex Aubrey returns to his high school and home town. Source: Parkes Champion Post August 23, 2006

Rex returns to Parkes…. and the front page! Returning for the 75th celebration of Parkes High School and to award the 2006 Parkes High Achiever Award, Rex Aubrey returns to his high school and home town. Source: Parkes Champion Post August 23, 2006

Parkes Shire Library would like to thank the following organisations for their assistance in making this post possible:

If you have stories or memories that you are willing to share about Rex Aubrey or any of the other Olympians of the Parkes Shire , please contact Parkes Shire Library via library@parkes.nsw.gov.au so that they can be shared and kept for posterity on this blog. Alternatively you may leave comments on this page.

 

3 comments on “Rex Aubrey – Parkes Shire’s first Olympian

  1. Brenda Aubrey
    July 16, 2016

    What a wonderful collection. The articles and video clip is fantastic. Thank you for preserving and sharing.

    Like

  2. Jenny Deering
    November 22, 2017

    My father Roy Jackson is Rex Aubrey’s first cousin. We use to visit relatives in Parkes all the time when I was a kid but I never met Rex as he had moved to America before I was born. I heard stories about Rex until my dad died in the year 2002. Dad had news paper articles in our photo albums that relatives had sent him from Parkes. My sister has the family albums so I will try to track down the articles the next time I visit her. I live in Tasmania now and my sister lives in Sydney. We are hoping to organise a road trip to Parkes so we can find out about our ancestors and our famous 2nd cousin Rex Aubrey – Kind regards Jenny Deering (nee Jackson )

    Like

    • parkeslibrary
      November 23, 2017

      Thank you for your response Jenny. Parkes Library’s Family & Local History Library Officer, Dan Fredericks, would love to hear from you. You can contact him via telephone (02) 6861 2339 or email dan.fredericks@parkes.nsw.gov.au

      Like

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