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George Dockrell

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameGeorge Shannon•Dockrell
Used nameGeorge•Dockrell
Born22 October 1886
Died23 December 1924 in Richmond, Greater London, England (GBR)
AffiliationsD.S.C., Dublin (IRL)
NOC Great Britain


George Dockrell was regarded as Ireland’s greatest ever swimmer. He was the son of Sir Maurice Dockrell, a renowned businessman and politician in the Irish Free State, serving as an MP for South Dublin in Westminster from 1918-22. George was just one member of the famous Irish swimming family. His brother Henry was also an Irish champion while Henry’s children Marguerite and Hayes both competed at the 1928 Olympics. George was also in Irish international water polo player.

Dockrell was educated at Trent College, Nottingham, and whilst there won virtually every swimming competition he entered. At the age of 17 he competed in his first Irish Championship, and the following year went to the United States where he joined the New York Athletic Club and learned to develop the crawl style as used by Charlie Daniels. Dockrell returned to Ireland in 1906 and went to Trinity College Dublin. Between 1906-11 he contested 27 Irish Championships and won 20 freestyle titles, winning the 220 yards title six times, the 100 and 440 yards five times each, and the 880 on four occasions. At the time of his death in 1924 he held three Irish records, one dating back to 1907. He was the first Irishman to swim 100 yards in exactly 60 seconds and at Dublin in 1911 he set a British native record of 58.6 for the 100. He never won an ASA title but finished second in the 100 free in 1908 and third in the 200 in 1911. However, his finest moment came at an international meeting at Paris in 1909 when he beat Herman Meyboom of Belgium, the man who beat Dockrell into second place in the 1908 ASA.

Dockrell was reaching his peak leading up to the 1912 Olympics and was expected to make the squad but was not selected for Stockholm. However, it was around this time that things start to go badly for Dockrell. Having previously worked in the Dublin family business of Thomas Dockrell Sons and Co., he left to go to work on his own account in London in September 1912 and the following Spring appeared at a bankruptcy hearing when it was established that over the previous couple of years, he had amassed heavy gambling losses. However, he turned his life around, and at the start of World War I in 1914, signed up for the Rifle Brigade. However, less then 12 months later he received a severe back injury after being hit by shrapnel. Dockrell was subsequently promoted to staff captain in 1917 and to major in 1919. He was honoured with the OBE, and was demobilised in 1920. George Shannon Dockrell died at the Officers’ Hospital, Richmond, Surrey in 1924.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1908 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) GBR George Dockrell
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 3 h2 r2/3

Olympic family relations