Geoffrey Marks was a Sri Lankan superstar in swimming
Geoffrey Charles Marks qualified to represent the country at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games following a series of good performances at home and at international level.
He won the popular Two-Mile Sea Swim eight times and had also set a record by winning the event with a time of 53 minutes and 10 seconds.
During the same period, Marks set a number of Ceylon records in the 100, 200, 440, 880 yards events and One-Mile races to emerge as a superstar in swimming.
At a swimming meet held in Bombay, India in 1952, he had exhibited standards of International level. This event was held between teams of Bombay, Calcutta, Allahabad, Osmania, Aligarh and Lucknow Universities.
Marks who was an undergraduate of the Colombo University, won the 400m freestyle swimming event in five minutes 28.4 seconds – a new All-India record improving on the existing record by 2.2s.
The earlier record had been established by the acclaimed Indian swimming champion Bimal Chandra.
As a result of his success both at National and at International level, he was provided with the opportunity of participating in the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland in 1952.
He ended in sixth place in the Men’s 400m freestyle event in five minutes and two seconds. Nevertheless, this was an improvement on his Ceylon record.
Although he participated in the second Asian Games held in Manila, Philippines in 1954, he could not win any of the events.
However, at the Inter-University Swimming Meet held in Calcutta, India in 1955, he won the 1,500m freestyle in 21 minutes and 35.8 seconds while shattering the All-India record of 21 minutes 40.5 seconds.
The challenge which he experienced from the Indian champion Sri Chand Bajaj in this event cannot be ignored as he improved on the existing record.
Marks left the Island after obtaining his Degree from the Colombo University and found employed in Japan in 1959.
In Japan he won a scholarship to study crop diseases at the University of Wisconsin, USA, from where he graduated with a M.Sc. in 1961 and PhD in 1963.
He then arrived in Australia in July 1963 when he was appointed to the position of Forest Pathologist with the Forests Commission of Victoria.
Marks had wide interests and he was an active member of the Australia-Ceylon Fellowship and he passed away on August 30, 1990 at the age of 58 years in Melbourne. (C.D)