Mr Brad Cooper
Olympian and Swim Coach
Brad Cooper was born in Singapore to Australian parents working in film distribution. State High was the fourth of his eventual nine high schools. It was also his longest enrolment stretch, taking in part of Year 8, Year 9 and part of Year 10.
Teachers Brad recalls from this period include a super-sanguine Perry Leech, a busy-but-available Vice-Principal Mr Reeves, and a ruddy Mr Fitzgerald in charge of a gravelly outpost dubbed ‘The Farm’, who could pepper six good cuts with such upbeat banter that you left with a glow of worldliness to match your palms. His brother, Raymond F. Fitzgerald, whose reserved gravitas Brad recalled from Ipswich’s Bremer High, would soon be Principal of State High. Other teachers remembered with affection are Mr Zimmerman and George Petelin.
During out-of-school hours, Brad was an elite swimmer, and after leaving Brisbane he trained in Sydney under coach Don Talbot, aka Ming The Merciless. Kicked out of Talbot's squad at one point, Brad returned to State High to lick his wounds for a month before reuniting with Talbot.
After winning the 400m freestyle gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Brad became a journalist and then swim school proprietor. In 2019, he wrote an acclaimed coming-of-age memoir ‘The Finest Gold’ (Scribe), recounting his Olympic success and itinerant childhood.