Billy Herald, Olympic swimmer
Billy Herald was born William Sharp Hannah Herald at Glebe Point in 1900 to Alfred and Lillian Herald. He may have been named after William Sharp Hannah, whose parents also lived at Glebe Point; Hannah died of thirst at Mount Arrowsmith Station in December 1899, not long before Billy was born. In about 1908 the family moved from Glebe to Vaucluse. Billy attended Sydney Grammar School. In 1918 he enlisted for WWI, but did not embark.
When he was 15 he won the 110 yards junior championships of NSW. He became a keen competitor for Manly Life Saving Club at surf carnivals, and was a member of the Manly team which won the RLSS relay championships in 1919-20.
He was 19 when he was selected for the Antwerp Olympic Games of 1920 in the 100 metres swimming event, having won three of the four Olympic selection races, including the NSW test race in 59.2 seconds. The Antwerp swimming races were held in an outdoor pool. Herald came second in his heat in the 100 metres, and third in the semi-final, which qualified him for the final, with a time of 64.8 seconds. In the final, he was baulked by two of the American swimmers and a protest was lodged. The race was re-swum, and he finished fourth, just out of the medals, behind three Americans. The race winner was Duke Kahanamoku. In the 4x200 metres relay, the team won silver behind the Americans, with a team time of 10min 25.4. The team consisted of Herald, Ivan Stedman, Harry Hay and Frank Beaurepaire.
After the games, Beaurepaire stated to Bill Longworth that the Australian team had felt the effects of WWI more than other nations. Had the Australian team consisted of Cecil Healy, Harold Hardwick, Longworth and Beaurepaire, he thought they would easily have won. Healy had been killed in WW1.
Billy was a keen rugby player, and was in the Manly Life Saving Club Football team who were second grade premiers and won the Kentwell Cup in 1924 (photo above).
He was Australian champion over 100 yards in 1922, in a time of 57.2 seconds. On 30 January 1924 he swam an Australian 100 yards record of 55 seconds dead at the Domain Baths, in a dead heat with Arne Borg.
From The Referee, 13 February 1924:
“William S Herald was a competitor at the Antwerp Olympiad in which he gained fourth place in the 100 metres behind Duke Kahanamoku, Kealoha, and Harris. It was just before the 1920 team was selected that he came to the fore, and after two disappointing seasons he is now showing the pace which is in him. Herald’s selection [for the Paris Olympics] came as a surprise to many, but the fact that he is the speediest sprinter ever produced here added to his undoubted quality as a furlong swimmer, weighed in the selection. A trifle off-colour in the final of the NSW 100 yards championship, he failed to reproduce his heat swim of 55.8 seconds and was beaten into third place. Since then he has tied with Borg in a scratch 100 yards race in 55 seconds; swam a hundred in the rough water at Clifton baths in 57.2 seconds and put up a night swim of 64.2 seconds for 100 metres at Pyrmont. In spite of the wonderful pace of the Americans, it will not be surprising to see Herald right up with them in the 100 metres race.”
However, by this time Herald was employed by a bank, and he was not allowed leave to compete in the Paris Games.
In 1929 he married 22-year old Eileen Mooney at Randwick. The following year, they were listed at 400 Howick Street, Bathurst, where Herald had been posted by the bank. In 1937, he was listed living at the Commercial Bank, Hillston, in the Riverina.
In 1940, Billy enlisted, knocking a couple of years off his age. He spent the war as Private NX36502, with the 2/1 Australian Headquarters Guard Battalion. He was discharged from the Army on 10 October 1945.
After the war he resumed his banking duties. In 1949 he was listed at Kitchener Road, Temora. In 1951 he was a guest at the 40-year reunion dinner of Manly LSC.
He retired to Sydney, and was listed in 1958 and 1963 living at 248 Rainbow Street, South Coogee.
Billy Herald died on 13 February 1976, aged 76. Eileen Herald died on 13 February 1994, aged 87.
 NSW BDM 12449/1900.
 Lester, Gary, Australians at the Olympics, p63.
 Harris, R, Heroes of the Surf, p73.
 Harris, R, Heroes of the Surf, p 13.
 Gordon, Harry, Australia and the Olympic Games, p100.
 NSW BDM 6413/1929.
 Electoral Roll 1930, 1937.
 Australian War Memorial records have his date of birth as 28 April 1902, Glebe Point, next of kin Eileen Herald.
 Electoral Roll 1949.
 Electoral Roll 1958, 1963.
 NSW BDM 4075/1976; Ryerson Index SMH 17 February 1976.
 Ryerson Index, SMH 14 February 1994.