Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Johnny Carter Palm Beach Legend

Johnny Carter is an Aussie legend, just like Crocodile Dundee or Ned Kelly. Seen here in his black 'Budgie Smugglers' teaching another generation to swim at the ocean pool at Palm Beach. I have been swimming every morning since summer arrived a week ago to do a few easy laps in the 50m pool. The water temperature is 23 degrees Celsius and a morning swim is the best way to start the day I know.

Carter, aged over 80, has been here for over 50 years teaching children to swim, a brass plaque attests to his dedication. There are several "3-generation" Johnny Carter swimming families here. He starts swimming classes at 7am and finishes around 2 pm He charges $10 a week or whatever you can afford. His daughter Robey is often seen helping as he yells 'stroke correction' at the youngsters.

He started here Carter back in 1947, when he worked as a beach inspector. When the summer ends he heads north to live in a caravan on the beach. He is not wealthy and many of the people he teaches are fairly well-off Eastern Suburb vacationers.

In 1958 Johnny carried out a famous rescue here. In rough seas two young men were swept off the rocks near the pool. Carter jumped off the rocks, dived in and swam 50m to grab the first man. Then, with him under his arm, he swam out a further 500m to the second. He was nominated for the George Cross, the highest civilian award for courage.

The southern end of Palm Beach, the best beach in Sydney!

I almost didn't write this part but sadly he was in the news a few weeks ago in the Manly Daily:
"Manly Court heard today that John “Jack” Carter, 81, had engaged in a serious “act of folly” when police caught him with 200 pairs of sunglasses and accessories on Pittwater Rd, Brookvale in October. The fake designer goods, bearing brand names such as Chanel, Versace and Gucci, were being offered for sale from a white van for between $10 and $25, a fraction of the cost for the genuine articles. The pensioner, who lives alone at Swansea on the Central Coast, told police he made between $50 and $100 a week selling goods, and had done so for many years. Mr Carter today pleaded guilty to 13 counts of possessing goods bearing fake trademarks and his barrister, Chris Branson QC, told the court his client knew it was a serious matter. Magistrate William Brydon said he would not record a conviction against Mr Carter due to his age, good record and contributions to the community."
Still a legend in my book.

Part of Watery Wednesday.


  1. A sad story at the end of your post. It is such a shame that the people who benefited by his teaching didn't pay him a living wage. Fascinating person.

  2. This is really interesting post Peter. The full story makes it quite special.

  3. Great summer shots at Palmy though.

  4. Says a lot about our society in many ways, Peter. I am pleased you did put that paragraph in your post.

  5. Very nice photography. You do have a good choice to make everywhere you point your camera.

  6. Johnny Carter taught me to swim when I was a little boy in the 1950's
    He was tough, uncompromising, disciplinarian and we loved him
    We would have swam round the world if he had asked us to do it
    The best reward was at the end of each week, his "Best trier" got to sit on his long board for a surf ride.
    If I had found him selling the stuff, I would have bought the lot.

  7. Johnny Carter taught my Mother and her Brother as a 3 & 4 year olds in the 1950's, he then taugh my brothers and I in the 1980's and he has just taught my nieces to swim this summer.
    Johnny Carter is a total legend who gives back all the money he makes from the lessons to the children he has taught. Each summer he provides competitions for the children and supplies all the prizes for the winning teams.
    I believe that he should be charging more for his swimming lessons (currently $4.00 per child per lesson).
    I too would have bought his stock had I known that he was selling it.
    What a shame to be treated the way he was by the Manly Daily.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Thanks for visiting. Your feedback is welcome!