UNSUNG HERO: Ken Murray

FOR Ken Murray, his passion for the water was instilled from an early age.

Mr Murray has devoted most of his life to serving the Swansea-Belmont and Swansea-Caves Surf Lifesaving clubs.

The 78-year-old grew up in the Swansea area and has lived in Blacksmiths since he married his wife Joan, in 1957.

Growing up by the beach had a strong influence on his decision to become involved with surf lifesaving and, in particular, surf boat rowing.

His father, Roy, was a member of the first boat crew at the Swansea-Caves club in 1929-30.

Mr Murray credited his father’s involvement in the sport as a significant motivating factor behind his decision to take up the sport.

Mr Murray originally joined the Swansea-Belmont club as a junior and gained his bronze medallion there in 1950, at the age of 16.

In 1952, Mr Murray was part of the crew which won the Australian junior title and placed third at the state championships.

However his desire to become a surf boat sweep and to follow in his father’s footsteps, saw him move to rival club Swansea-Caves in 1953.

The move proved to be a master stroke for Mr Murray, who went on to win 10 Australian titles, nine state titles and 36 branch titles throughout his career.

He was also part of the Caves crew which won the state title four years in a row from 1961-64, a feat which has yet to be matched.

But for Mr Murray, some of his proudest moments included captaining NSW and being part of the Australian teams which competed against South Africa in the 1970s.

Some of his achievements are unparalleled in Australia and have earned him the reputation as being one of the best sweeps in Australian surf boat rowing history.

One of his former competitors, Jim Purcell, said that Mr Murray was highly respected in the rowing community.

‘‘He was a fantastic competitor, everyone involved with boats knows him, right around Australia,’’ he said.

In light of his success, Mr Murray has remained closely affiliated with both the Swansea-Belmont and Swansea-Caves clubs.

Swansea-Belmont club member Pat Tobin said Mr Murray was a highly valued and respected member of the club.

‘‘I just have the highest admiration for the man and his achievements,’’ he said.

Jim Purcell echoed similar sentiments, saying that Mr Murray had served both clubs and earned a great deal of respect.

‘‘He’s been in and around both clubs for a long time, he always fitted in very well,’’ Mr Purcell said.

Mr Murray is a life member of both clubs and has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Australian Surf Rowers League.

Testament to his commitment, Murray still heads to the Swansea-Belmont Surf-Life Saving Club every morning for a swim.

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