Swimming legend Murray Rose, three times Olympic distance freestyle champion for Australia in 1956 and 1960, was a true gentleman and a national hero, teammate Dawn Fraser told his memorial service in Sydney.
Rose passed away last week at the age of 73. Among 200 mourners at a memorial service in his honour was teammate and rival John Konrads.
Two of Rose's Olympic gold medals and a white Olympic flag were placed on his casket, while Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates called Rose "the finest swimmer in the world of his era".
"But he was so much more than a great swimmer," added Coates. He was "an understated perfectionist, a perfect communicator who never seemed to raise his voice". His "decency, dignity and generosity of spirit" inspired generations of Australian champions including the likes of Kieren Perkins, Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett.
Jodi, Rose's wife and a ballerinas in her younger years, recalled her man paddling out on a wave at Bondi Beach. He was my husband, my beloved, my man of the sea," she said.
Fraser's eulogy contributed: "Before celebrity became code for promotion, Murray was a national hero. It was a pleasure to have him as a friend and a team-mate. It was great to sit next to him in the dining room where you could swap your vegies for his meat." Rose was a vegan.
"He will always be known as the pioneer of distance swimming in Australia," added Fraser. "Murray was a true gentleman, he will be a great loss to the Olympic family, he will be a great loss to the swimming community, and he will be a great loss to the wider community.
"To me personally, I have lost a true friend and a great team-mate. But the greatest loss will be felt by his wife Jodi and his son Trevor. The master of cool. The only guy to go through life and not cause a ripple, but certainly make enormous waves."