Jack Hale

Jack Hale, the Hull-born Olympic swimmer credited with revolutionising the butterfly stroke, has died at the age of 85.

His friend Jack Lloyd described him as "the finest athlete that Yorkshire has produced – certainly that Hull has produced".

A former world record holder in the butterfly and the backstroke, Hale won numerous national titles and took gold in the 400m medley at the Commonwealth Games. At one stage, he held every British freestyle, backstroke and butterfly record.

The Second World War deprived him of his best chance of Olympic success; in 1948, he was hampered by a shoulder injury. He missed the 1952 Olympics with broken ribs following an incident where a diver landed on top of him.

Hale came from a family with a strong swimming tradition. Born in June 1922, he was coached by his brother Vic, and his father Irwin won the trans-Humber race.

The "dolphin" leg-kicking technique he pioneered transformed was initially controversial but was soon recognised as legitimate, and it led to far faster times. In 1955 the Swimming Times described how he was able to "swim under water like a fish" thanks to his revolutionary technique.

In later years, Hale worked as a swimming instructor in Hull, alongside his late wife Valerie, who had also been a national champion. He went on to become a successful coach.

The couple eventually retired from the pool in 1999 after more than 40 years teaching the city's children how to swim.