Andrew (Boy) Murray Charlton (1907-1975) was born on 12 August 1907 at North Sydney. Known as 'Boy' he grew up at Manly where he revelled in the surf.
At the 1923 New South Wales State Championships, Charlton swam 880 yards freestyle in 11 minutes 5.2 seconds, taking 19 seconds off the world record.
In 1924 he defeated the Swedish champion Arne Borg over 440 yards freestyle, equalling the world record of 5 minutes 11.8 seconds. This string of world records revived public interest in competitive swimming. Dubbed the 'Manly Flying Fish' Charlton became an Australian sporting idol.
Uninterested in training, Charlton preferrred to spend his time surfing. Powerfully built, Charlton's stroke was a four-beat stroke, called at the time the single trudgen crawl. There was little leg movement with a wide scissor kick made at the end of the left arm drive with the body turned sideways.
At the 1924 Olympic Games in Pariss Charlton won the 1500 metres title in 20 minutes 6.6 seconds, setting new Olympic and world records; he was only the third Australian awarded a gold medal in swimming. He was third in the 400 metres behind Jonny Weismuller and Borg, and a member of the 4 x 200-relay team, which came second. Returning to sydney, Charlton was given a hero's welcome.
Charlton set a world record in 1927 of 10 minutes 32 seconds for 880 yards but was seriously ill with rheumatic fever in 1928, missing the Amsterdam Olympic Games.
A Competitor at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Charlton was unplaced in the 400 and 1500 metre.
A shy and modest person, Charlton took up sheep grazing near Goulburn. Shunning publicity, he refused offers to turn professional saying: 'I would never be forgiven by the Australian public ... I am not in the sport for what I can get out of it'. To a generation of Australians, Charlton was a popular idol and national hero.
Charlton died suddenly of a heart attack on 10 December 1975.