As a swimmer, he was the Scottish freestyle champion and record holder over several distances between 1942 and 1947 before deciding to concentrate on diving. Self-taught and self-coached, he won gold medals at the 1950, 1954 and 1958 Commonwealth Games on the 10-meter platform and represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games in 1948 in London and in 1952 in Helsinki.
After Peter Heatly’s career as an athlete ended, he decided to give back to the sports he so loved. He would serve the aquatic sports in some capacity for over seventy years at the local, national and international levels as either a manager, official or administrator.
Peter joined the FINA and LEN technical diving committees in 1966, serving as Honorary Secretary of the FINA Committee from 1972 to 1984 and Chairman from 1984 to 1988. He was selected Chairman of the Great Britain Swimming Federation in 1981 and again in 1992. He served as chairman of the National Scottish Learn to Swim Campaign from 1964 to 1974 and went on to become Chairman of the Scottish Sports Council from 1975 to 1987. Heatly was involved in 17 consecutive Commonwealth Games from 1950 to 2014, becoming Vice -Chairman of the Organizing Committee, when the Games were held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1970, and Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation from 1982 to 1990 after the first ever balloted election.
As a Chartered Civil Engineer, he produced and delivered papers on the design of swimming pools to professional bodies both in Great Britain and Europe. He also received Honorary Doctorates from three universities for his contributions to the sport.
Peter Heatly was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1971 and in 1990 was installed as a Knight of the Realm by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. He was inducted into the Scottish Hall of Fame in 2002 and into the Scottish Swimming Hall of Fame in 2010.