Biographical entry: Wickham, Alick F. (1886 - 1967)

1 June 1886
August 1967


Alick Wickham was born on 1 June 1886 at Gizo on New Georgia, the son of Frank Wickham (q.v.) and Pinge Naru, from Simbo. He lived in Sydney from 1901 to 1927, where he was a national swimming and diving champion whose achievements were reported internationally. Most significantly, he pioneered the crawl, or freestyle swimming stroke, in which he held the unofficial world record over a fifty-yard length from 1904 to 1915. He also held several national and New South Wales state titles. Wickham was also the inaugural Australasian diving champion in 1904, and from 1908 to 1912 the New South Wales state champion. He was well known as a regular performer of aquatic stunts at swimming carnivals, and as a water polo player, surf lifesaver, and pioneer in spear fishing. He was associated with early attempts to ride a surfboard. His most famous achievement was a high-dive of sixty-two metres (205 feet, 9 inches) into the Yarra River in Melbourne in 1918 at a patriotic swimming carnival. His achievements have been recognised in several television, movie and radio documentaries, in books and newspaper articles, and by the International Swimming Hall of Fame in the United States and the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame. In the Solomons, Alick was posthumously honoured by the naming of a swimming pool in Honiara in 1973 and by the release of a commemorative postage stamp booklet in 1984.

Wickham married Dorothy Bellisario Fraser on 25 July 1917 in Sydney, and fathered a daughter, Joyce (c. 1918-1996). After his permanent return to the Solomons in the late 1920s, he married Ima Tako (c. 1880s-1969) in Munda, with whom he had twin sons, born on 30 March 1933: Rex Pae (d. 2002) and Alick Gina (Kena) Wickham (d. 2001). Wickham served as a scout during the Second World War and remained in the Munda area for the rest of his life. He died in hospital at Honiara of unconfirmed causes on 10 or 11 August 1967, and was buried there in the Old Colonial Graveyard. His wife survived him, and died in September 1969. (NS 7 May 1973, 6, 30 Sept. 1969; PIM Sept. 1967, 27; AR 1967, 9; Gary Osmond, interviews with Wickham family, Munda and Honiara, Nov. 2004; Osmond 2006) (Entry by Gary Osmond)

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Published resources


  • Pacific Islands Monthly. Details
  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate, British Solomon Islands Protectorate Annual Reports (AR), 1896-1973. Details


  • Osmond, Frederick G., 'Nimble Savages: Myth, Race, Social Memory and Australian Aquatic Sport', PhD, University of Queensland, 2006. Details