Swimming New Zealand homepage

The start of something extraordinary


It is with great sadness that Swimming New Zealand mourns the passing of life member Mr James J. Cole, widely known as Jim, who passed yesterday morning, Sunday 22nd July 2018.

Jim was awarded a Swimming New Zealand Life Membership in 2001 for his dedication to the sport both here in New Zealand and internationally.

Jim is survived by his 4 children and 13 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. Swimming New Zealand would like to extend their heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Jim.

Jim represented Waitemata Club as a swimmer and water polo player at New Zealand Championships level 1949 to 1953. During this time he was also active is surf life saving.

He moved to the Waikato in 1954 and joined the Hamilton Amateur Swimming Club and represented the club and region as a swimmer and water polo player for the next three years.

In 1956 he moved to Te Kuiti to take up a coaching position at the local pool.  For the next 13 years he was associated with this club as coach, committee member and as the club’s delegate to the Waikato Swimming Centre. During his time with the Te Kuiti Club he not only took an active part in the promotion of Learn to Swim but also in encouraging parents and interested spectators to take part in swimming officiating.

In 1959 Jim became a professional coach for the club.  1963 saw Jim apply for and receive reinstatement as an amateur coach. He held the position of President of Te Kuiti club from 1966 – 1969. In 1968 Te Kuiti Club recognised his contribution by awarding him Life Membership.

In 1969 Jim and his family moved back to Hamilton and he re-joined the Hamilton Club. This same year he was elected to the Waikato Centre Executive. During the 1970’s Jim was involved in the organisation of a very successful Dual Meet programme within the Waikato region and began officiating at all levels of swimming meets.

In 1970 his service to our sport was recognised by his being awarded a New Zealand Swimming Service Award.

In 1976 the Hamilton Swimming Club took over the running of the old Municipal Pool and Jim was a strong supporter of this enterprise.  As one of the few people at the time qualified in pool treatment his services were of great assistance to the Club.  Jim became President of the Hamilton Club in 1978 and held this position for two years. 

Jim also played an active part in the promotion of swimming as a sport for asthmatics and dyslexics and has been gratified to see some of his competitors go on to represent Waikato at inter Centre and National events.

In 1983 he was one of the main instigators behind bringing a German coach, Christian Theiss, to New Zealand to become the professional coach for the Hamilton Club.  The benefits of this project saw the club become a national force for several years.

In 1984 he was awarded Life Membership of the Hamilton Club for his services to the club.

Jim was President of the Waikato Swimming Centre from 1980 – 82 and during this period he also became a member of the National Swimming Technical Committee.

In 1981 he became a FINA official and received his first FINA appointment at the World Championships in Ecuador that year.

In 1987 he received a New Zealand Swimming Association Honours Award for his services to our sport. 

He has represented New Zealand as an official at World Long and Short Course Championships, Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games, World Masters Championships, Australian Championships, Oceania Championships, Grand Prix Meets, New Zealand Tri Series Meets, Pan Pacific Championships and the IPC International in Christchurch.  Jim has also represented New Zealand at the Olympic Solidarity Technical Congress, many FINA Technical congresses and has attended many FINA Technical clinics.

Jim was the Swimming Technical Director for the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland.

Apart from the many international meets, which Jim officiated at, since 1976, Jim attended a minimum of two National Championship meets every year at his own cost.  There have been years where he has officiated at up to 4 National meets. 

Jim was a regular official for the Hamilton Swimming Club as well as assisting at other Waikato club and centre meets. 

At the National Age Group Championships in Wellington in 2001 Jim’s contribution to the sport was recognised when he was presented with a FINA Certificate of Merit which had been awarded to him by the FINA Technical Congress held in Sydney during the Olympic Games 2000. This award is one of the highest awards given to Technical Officials worldwide.