Gordon Kerr was a record-setting swimmer who raced in Canada, the United States, and abroad during the 1930s. He represented Canada at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Gordon Kerr was born in Brantford, Ontario, on October 4, 1917.
Kerr’s first introduction to competitive swimming game during his early days at Kennedy Collegiate. Kerr joined the Border Cities Swimming Club for the 1930-31 season. At the time, it was the largest swimming club in the country. Kerr took to the sport well; before long, he held numerous provincial and national records in the 300-yard medley and backstroke events.
Kerr qualified for the 1936 Olympics in Berin, Germany in the 100-metre backstroke event. Kerr finished second in his preliminary heat, the fourth, which qualified him for the second semi-final race. Kerr finished fifth in his semifinal heat, but his time was good enough for 10th place out of a field of 30 swimmers from 17 nations.
In 1937, Kerr won the 100-yard backstroke event at the British Empire Games trials. That year, he broke every Canadian record for backstroke races between 100 and 400 yards. He also set records in the 40-yard freestyle, the 40-yard backstroke, and the 300-yard medley.
In the 1938 British Empire Games finals, held in Sydney, Australia, Kerr won silver medals in the 100-yard backstroke and 330-yard medley relay.
That same year, he won the gold medal at the Michigan A.A.U. finals. He also earned golds in the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke events at the Canadian Outdoor Championships.
Kerr’s swimming career eventually brought him to the United States. He represented the Detroit Athletic Club in 1938, where he placed second in both the 330-yard medley and the 880-yard freestyle medley at the United States Nationals. The meet that year was held in Louisville, Kentucky. The following year, Kerr swam for Wayne State University in Midtown Detroit. He set an American Intercollegiate freshman record in the medley relay while representing the school.
Following his retirement from competitive swimming, Kerr took up a coaching position with the Windsor Swimming Club. He passed on his expertise to a younger generation from 1950 to ’54.
Gordon Kerr died in Lakefield, Ontario on March 31, 2009 at the impressive age of 92.