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Tribute from Michelle Ford to coach Dick Caine

I unfortunately can’t be here tonight with you but wish to make a special tribute to a special and exceptional guy — Dick Caine.

Dick had no intention of being a swim coach. In fact, in 1969 he turned up to Sans Souci pool in his long white socks and introduced himself as a garbo to a bunch of scrawny kids. Yet this was to be the start of an illustrious career in coaching.

Dick's youn squad moved to Carss park and began breaking records. Many won state and national titles and soon Carss Park club became known throughout Australia and the world

l am sure there are many highlights throughout Dick’s life but for me, the most memorable, was in 1976 at North Sydney Pool for the final of the Australian open 200 metres butterfly and selection trials for the Montreal Olympics. The sceptics had said it was impossible as l was tagged as too young. But that didn’t stop us. Dick got me to the starting blocks and had me believe. When I touched the wall in first place and in Commonwealth record time I immediately turned towards him. There he was in his purple suitjumping into the pool.

We had done it. At 13, I was on my way to the Olympics.

My biggest regret, however, was that I had to leave my coach behind.

Dick has coached nine Olympians and 19 world champion across many sports - a truly incredible feat. Though his biggest tribute is to the thousands of kids he has taught, coached and mentored - not only in the pool but in life. He tells us that he is uneducated but he has a special gift and knows how to make us all champions. Dick, you are part of my story and many others. Thank you for believing in us.

May this night be special in celebrating your greatness.

All my best,
Michelle alias Mich