Friday, 22 August 2008

Australian Olympic swimmers Part One: Before World War One

The Olympic Games are over, the anthems played, medals awarded.

This and subsequent posts are a small tribute to Australia's Olympic swimmers over the past century.

I've been trying to remember when I first became conscious of the Olympic Games. I have no recollection of Rome (1960). I vaguely remember the controversy surrounding Dawn Fraser at Tokyo in 1964, which must have filtered in by radio, as I don't think we had a TV then.

The earliest clear recollection of an Olympic Games is of Mexico in 1968. I collected a scrapbook of cuttings from various magazines, and remember the altitude presenting a challenge. Michael Wenden from Australia won gold medals in the 100m and 200m freestyle, and collapsed and sank after the 200m due to breathing difficulties. He had to be pulled from the pool. Wenden also won silver in the 800m free, and bronze in the 4 x 100m relay, with team mates.

1896 Athens 6 April - 15 April (14 nations; 241 male athletes)

No Australian swimmers Edwin "Teddy" Flack was the only competitor from an Australian colony. He entered five events, winning medals in three - two athletics and one tennis.

Swimming events and winners with winning times. (No women's events)

100m freestyle: G: Alfred Hajós, HUN 1:22.2 S: Efstathios Chorophas, GRE B: Otto Herschmann, AUT
500m freestyle: G: Paul Neumann, AUT 8:12.6 S: Antonios Pepanos, GRE B: Efstathios Chorophas, GRE
1200m freestyle: G: Alfred Hajós, HUN 18:22.2 S: Jean Andreou, GRE B: Efstathios Chorophas, GRE
100m freestyle (sailors): G: Ioannis Malokinis, GRE 2:20.4 S: S. Chapasis, GRE B: Dimitrios Drivas, GRE

1900 Paris 14 May - 28 October (24 nations; 997 athletes - 22 being women)

The Paris Olympics had seven men's swimming events, including a 200 meter obstacle swim and underwater swimming. For the obstacle swim, the swimmers had to climb over or under poles and boats. The underwater swim gave one point for each second underwater and two points for each meter swam while underwater.

The swimming events were held in the Asnières basin of the River Seine.
Below: Georges Seurat: Bathing at Asnières 1883-4

Below: The start of one of the races.

Australian winner:
2 gold Frederick Lane (pictured left) was the only Australian swimmer at the Games. He won gold in 200m freestyle and 200m obstacle race! Lane was the first man to swim 100 yards in less than a minute. He did not receive gold medals, but instead received bronze sculptures of a horse and peasant girl respectively. He was also the favourite for the 100 metre freestyle, but this event was cancelled.

Swimming events, winners and winning times:

200m freestyle:
G: Frederick Lane, AUS 2:25.2 S: Zoltan Halmay, HUN B: Karl Ruberl, AUT
1000m freestyle: G: John Jarvis, GBR 13:40.2 S: Otto Wahle, AUT B: Zoltan Halmay, HUN
4000m freestyle: G: John Jarvis, GBR 58:24.0 S: Zoltan Halmay, HUN B: Louis Martin, FRA
200m backstroke: G: Ernst Hoppenberg, GER S: Karl Ruberl, AUT B: Johannes Drost, HOL
200m Team Swimming: G: GER 32 S:FRA B: FRA
200m Obstacle Event: G: Frederick Lane, AUS 2:38.4 S: Otto Wahle, AUT B: Peter Kemp, GBR
Underwater Swimming: G: Charles de vendeville, FRA 188.4 S: P Alexandre Six, FRA B: Peder Lykkeberg, DEN

St Louis 1904 1 July - 23 November (12 nations; 651 athletes, 6 being women)

St Louis nearly ended the Olympic Movement. No women competed. Demeaning events for indigenous athletes from around the world were held. The status of the Olympics fell further. It took the unofficial 1906 Games in Athens, known as the Intercalated Games, to revive interest and faith in the Olympic Movement. The 1906 Games were arranged to mark the 10th anniversary of the first Modern Olympics.

It was previously thought that no Australian swimmers took part. Recently it came to light that Frank Gailey, an Australian, had erroneously been recorded as American. (He later did become a US citizen). When he won 3 silver and 1 bronze medal in St Louis he was Australian. See link to separate post about this here.

The St. Louis Olympics had 9 swimming events for men. This was the first and only time that the Olympic swimmers raced in yards. This was also the first time a USA swimmer earned Olympic swimming medals.

Swimming events, winners and winning times:

50 yards freestyle: G: Zoltan Halmay, HUN 28.0 S: Scott Leary, USA B: Charles Daniels, USA 100 yards freestyle: G: Zoltan Halmay HUN 1:02.8 S: Charles Daniels B: Scott Leary USA
220 yards freestyle: G: Charles Daniels USA 2:44.2 S: Francis Gailey AUS B: Emil Rausch GER
440 yards freestly: G: Charles Daniels USA 6:16.2 S: Francis Gailey AUS B: Otto Wahle AUT 880 yards freestyle: G: Emil Rausch GER 13:11.4 S: Francis Gailey AUS B: Geza Kiss HUN
1 mile freestyle: G: Emil Rausch GER 27;18.2 S: Geza Kiss HUN B: Francis Gailey AUS
100 yards backstroke: G: Walter Brack GER 1:16.8 S: Georg Hoffmann GER B: Georg Zacharias GER
440 yards breastroke: G: Georg Zacharias GER 7:23.6 S: Walter Brack GER B: Jamison Handy USA
4 x 50 yards relay: G: USA 2:04.6 S: USA B: USA
Plunge for Distance: G: W.E. Dickey USA 19:05 S: Edgar Adams USA B: Leo Goodwin USA

1908 London 27 April - 31 October (22 nations; 2008 athletes, 37 being women)

Australia competed with New Zealand under the title Australasia.The 1908 Olympics were originally awarded to Rome, as the IOC President, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, had wished. But in April, 1906, Mount Vesuvius erupted again, leaving a cash-strapped Italy to abruptly cancel its plans to stage the Games.

Athletes marched as teams behind the flags of their nations for the first time. This momentous occasion turned into a political squabble when American flag-bearer Martin Sheridan refused to dip the US flag to King Edward because organisers had failed to fly the Stars and Stripes beside the flags of other competing nations in the main stadium. The Finnish athletes, upset at being under Russian rule, marched without a flag. The Irish also boycotted in protest of Great Britain failing to grant them independence.

Australian swimming medallist:
1 silver and 1 bronze: Frank Beaurepaire in 400m freestyle and 1500m freestyle respectively. He was aged 17.

Other members of the Australian team were Theodore Tartakover, Edward Cook, Sydney Springfield, Reginald (Snowy) Baker. Snowy Baker represented Australia in 26 different sports and excelled at them all!

Frank's Beaurepaire's Olympic story is incredible by today's swimmers' relatively pampered existence! On arrival in London with his trainer, Tommy Horlock, no arrangements had been made to pick them up, so they were forced to live with 16 pounds between them for a month before officials became aware of their plight. Beaurepaire trained in London for three months before the Games. Unable to afford admission to swimming pools, He was forced to train at Highgate Ponds, at temperatures of 10°C. After a 15-mile (24 km) event in the River Thames prior to the Olympics he was numbed by the cold to such an extent that he collapsed and needed to be pulled from the water to avoid drowning. Arriving at the Olympics, the competitors were confronted with a pool dug into the athletics track, with no filtration or chlorination, effectively being a muddy pond.

Right: Frank Beaurepaire

Swimming events, winners and winning times. (No women's events)

100m freestyle: G: Charles Daniels USA 1:05.6 S: Zoltan Halmay HUN B: Harald Julin SWE
400m freestyle: G: Henry Taylor GBR 5;36.8 S: Frank Beaurepaire, AUS B: Otto Scheff AUT 1500m freestyle: G: Henry Taylor GBR S: Sydney Battersby GBR B: Frank Beaurepaire AUS 100m backstroke: G: Arno Bieberstein GER 1:24.6 S: Ludwig Dam DEN B: Herbert Haresnape GBR
200m breastroke: G: Frederick Holman GBR 3:09.2 S: William Robinson GBR B: Pontus Hansson SWE
4 x 200m freestyle: G: Great Britain 10:55.6 S: Hungary B: USA

1912 Stockholm 5 May - 22 July (28 nations; 2407 athletes, 48 being women)

The Swedes ensured the Games were a stand-alone event (not attached to a fair like in Paris and St Louis) and the schedule was shortened to two months. A 22,000-seat stadium and a new swimming pool were built, and accommodation provided for visiting athletes. These games introduced the use of unofficial electronic timing devices (capable of registering to the tenth of a second) for track and swimming events.

Once again Australia and New Zealand competed as Australasia, though this was the last time. New Zealand swimmer Malcolm Champion carried the flag in the Opening Ceremony.

The Stockholm Olympics had 7 swimming events for men and, for the first time, two events for women. The women swam a 100 meter freestyle and a 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay. Sarah ‘Fanny’ Durack became the first female swimmer to win Olympic gold. She set a new world record in each round of her event.

Australian swimming team: Les Boardman, Malcolm Champion, Sarah 'Fanny' Durack, Harold Hardwick, Cecil Healy, William Longworth, Frank Schryver, Theodore Tartakover, Wilhelmina Wylie.

Above: Harold Hardwick, William Longworth at the Stockholm Olympics, showing the swimming area.

2 gold : Fanny Durack - 100m freestyle; Leslie Boardman, Malcolm Champion (a New Zealander - Australia and NZ competed as 'Australasia'), Cecil Healy and Harold Hardwick - 4 × 200 metre freestyle relay, won in the unofficial record time of 10 minutes 11.6 seconds.
2 silver: Cecil Healy - 100 metre freestyle; Wilhelmina (Mina) Wylie - 100 metre freestyle.
2 bronze
: Harold Hardwick - 400m and 1500m freestyle.

Fanny Durack and Mina Wylie were initially refused permission to compete in the Olympics. The New South Wales Ladies Swimming Association later allowed them to go provided they bore their own expenses. Durack set a new world record in the heats of the 100 m freestyle. In the late 1910s, she held every women's swimming world record from 100 m to a mile.

Mina's father, H. A. Wylie created and operated Wylies Baths at Coogee and he and her brothers gave exhibitions of 'trick and fancy swimming' at Sydney swimming carnivals.

Photo collage below: Top left: Fanny Durack (l) and Mina Wylie (r). Top right: Mina Wylie. Bottom left: Fanny Durack. Bottom right: Fanny Durack (l) and Mina Wylie (r) in Stockholm

Leslie Boardman: Not much known about him. It is hypothesized that he was chosen because he was a team-mate at the Sydney Swimming Club of Harold Hardwick and Cecil Healy.

Below: Left Cecil Healy. Right Harold Hardwick

Cecil Healy was killed in the First World War at Mont St Quentin, in an attack on a German trench. In Stockholm, Healy entered the 100m event with fellow Australian Bill Longworth and American Duke Kahanamoku. All three qualified for the semi-final, with Kahanamoku clearly the quickest. Healy and Longworth then qualified from the first semifinal, but the three Americans, who were scheduled to qualify in the second semi-final did not, due an error by their team management. However, Healy intervened and assisted in an appeal to allow the Americans to swim another special race in order to qualify for the final. Despite protestation from other delegations, the Americans were allowed a separate race, with Kahanamoku qualifying for the final. In the final, Kahanamoku won easily, by 1.2s, over a bodylength, with Healy in second place. Healy's sportsmanship effectively cost him the gold medal. Healy was a Manly lifesaver and was awarded the Royal Humane Society silver medal for saving numerous lives.

Harold Hardwick became a professional boxer. Swimming, boxing, gymnastics, water-polo and lifesaving were Hardwick's main interests (he was a foundation member of the Manly Surf Club), but he also played Rugby Union for New South Wales against a visiting American universities team (1910) and was a member of the Eastern Suburbs premiership team (1913). In 1914 he won the State amateur heavyweight boxing championship. He became the the Department of Education as supervisor of swimming and was responsible for organizing holiday swimming schools throughout the State. In 1938 he directed the schoolchildren's display at Australia's 150th Anniversary Celebrations. He retired as deputy-director of physical education in February 1953. The Harold Hardwick memorial trophy is awarded annually to the winner of the New South Wales 100-metres schoolboys' title. It bears the inscription: 'In memory of a great sportsman, soldier and gentleman'.

Swimming events, winners and winning times

100m freestyle:
G: Duke Kahanamoku USA 1:03.4 S: Cecil Healey AUS B: Kenneth Huszagh USA
400m freestyle: G: George Hodgson CAN 5:24.4 S: John Hatfield GBR B: Harold Hardwick AUS
1500m freestyle: G: George Hodgson CAN 22:00.0 S: John Hatfield GBR B: Harold Hardwick AUS
100m backstroke: G: Harry Hebner USA 1:21.2 S: Otto Fahr GER B: Paul Kellner GER
200m breastroke: G: Walter Bathe GER 3:01.8 S: Wilhelm Lützow GER B: Kurt Malisch GER
400m breastroke: G: Walter bathe GER 6:29.6 S: Thor Henning SWE B: Percy Courtman GBR
4 x 200m freestyle relay: G: Australia 10.11.6 S: USA B: Great Britain

100m freestyle:
G: Fanny Durack AUS 1.22.2 S: Wilhelmina Wylie AUS B: Jeannie Fletcher GBR
4 x 100m freestyle relay: G: Great Britain 5:52.8 S: Germany B: Austria

1 comment:

Helen said...

Sorry Sally, I should have said you deserve special awards for these two amazing sites! You've obviously spent an awful lot of time on them. Fantastic!!