The Development of Channel Swimming as a Competitive Sport

The Channel Swimming Club 1906 – 1931

Adolph Alexander was a Jewish tailor and clothier based at 114 & 115 Cheapside in London, trading as Alexander the Great, tailors. He had branches at 58 Ludgate Hill, London, and in Hanley, Staffordshire

He was born in 1866 in the town of Sandberg in the province of Posen in Prussia, Germany, now part of Poland, the son of Jacob Alexander, tailor and clothier, and Fanny Levi. In about 1873 Jacob Alexander brought his family from Germany to Hanley in Staffordshire where he set up a tailoring business. Jacob died in 1887 leaving a small empire of tailoring shops to his sons; Theobald ran the shop in Nottingham, Isaac ran the shop in Leicester and Adolph ran the shops at Piccadilly and at Stafford St. in Hanley

In about 1896 Adolph moved to a tailor shop and warehouse in Cheapside, London, which he leased from the Merchant Taylors Company. He retained the Hanley business for some years but now lived in a suite at the Hotel Great Central in London. In 1898 Adolf Alexander of 115 Cheapside London, age 34, tailor and clothier, unmarried, became a naturalized British citizen

In November 1906 Alexander founded the Channel Swimming Club and became its first and only President, with swimmers Montague Holbein, Thomas Burgess and Jabez Wolffe as vice-Presidents. It was formed at a meeting on 16th November at the St. Dunstan Rooms, Anderton’s Hotel, in Fleet St.  Its first committee meeting was on 9th April 1907 at 9 Parliament Chambers, Westminster. Several new prizes were presented by committee members to the Club for the encouragement of long-distance sea swimming and initially a ten mile sea race and a relay team crossing were to be instigated:-

 “Anyone interested in the encouragement of the practice of long-distance swimming is invited to attend the first general meeting of the Channel Swimming Club, to be held in the St. Dunstan Rooms. Anderton’s Hotel, Fleet-street. London. E.C., next Friday evening at 7.30 p.m.”   November 12, 1906 – Sporting Life

“For over a distance of ten miles Mr. W. Proctor has presented  a Challenge Cup, another member, Mr. H. Proctor, a similar trophy for fifteen miles, while Mr. Allen (Manchester) offers a third for a 25 mile swim. The trophies are to be won twice in succession or three times in all before becoming the property of the competitor, while medals and diplomas are to be awarded for each contest. The club’s hon. treasurer, Mr. A. Jonas, has presented a challenge trophy to be known as the “Webb Memorial Shield” for a relay race across the Straits of Dover, by teams of four swimmers. In addition, there is the Alexander Channel Cup for the swimmer (amateur or professional), irrespective of nationality, who emulates the feat of Captain Webb, made 32 years ago.”

Alexander was not a swimmer himself but had a keen interest in it:-

Mr Alexander’s great interest in the sport is accounted for by the fact that Captain Webb was the hero of his boyhood. He considers the Channel swim the greatest athletic feat of which man is capable and the best incentive to long-distance swimming, regarded by him as the only really useful form of the art. Rock Island Argus and Daily Union 15 March 1922

‘The Alexander Channel Cup (I)’ was commissioned and purchased for £250 by Alexander for the Channel Swimming Club in 1907 and was won by Burgess in 1911. It comprised 250 oz. of silver, made in Sheffield, 3ft high, 43in. circumference. Engraved with swimmers battling with the waves, surrounded by dolphins, nautilus and other shells. Lid surmounted with the figure of Victory blowing a horn. Over-sized gadrooned goblet body on a black onyx base with inscription plate and two flag plaques, one inscribed ‘1875’ and a blank one later engraved ‘1911’

Whereabouts unknown. Last heard of in Burgess’s possession at his death, 2 July 1950 in Levallois Perret, Paris, France. Believed to still be with his family

T.W. Burgess with Channel Swiming trophy

T.W. Burgess with Channel Swiming trophy

‘The Alexander Channel Cup (II)’ was commissioned and purchased for £1200 by Alexander for the Channel Swimming Club in 1911 to replace the original 1907 cup won by Burgess in 1911.

It was a Grecian urn shape with Art Nouveau embossed design of mermaids, shells and seaweed to body, lid surmounted by an identical figure of Victory blowing a horn from the original cup, foliate handles entwined with figures of Mermen. Base with shield “The Alexander Channel Cup 1912” surmounted with flag plaques engraved ‘1875’ and ‘1911’ with a third blank.

The Alexander Channel Cup

The Alexander Channel Cup (II); lost, destroyed or stolen

The cup was exhibited in 1912 but it is not the cup presented to Sullvan in 1923. Whether something catastrophic happened to the cup between 1911 and 1923 is not known but its off-the-shelf replacement is hallmarked 1910 so it’s purchase must have been not long after 1911/12

The new third cup was made by Elkington & Co, Cheapside, London, hallmarked Birmingham 1910. Unlike the two previous cups, this was off-the-shelf rather than commissioned, so bears no swimming or maritime elements or motifs in its design.  The cover is mounted with a figural finial of winged Victory in Neoclassical garb holding a staff. The cup is supported by two large entwined 3-dimensional figures, one holding a triton. Height: 37 ¾ Inches. Weight: 375 Troy Ounces. The body is inscribed “The Alexander Channel Cup Presented To Henry F. Sullivan. Who Swam the English Channel, Aug. 5th & 6th 1923. From Dover, England to Calais, France. Establishing World’s Endurance Record. World’s Breast Stroke Record. 26 Hours 50 Minutes.” On a marble plinth base with silver plaque engraved ‘The Alexander Channel Swimming Cup’

The cup was sold by Skinner Auctions, Boston, Mass. for $23,700 in 2011 and then by Nelson & Nelson Antiques, New York in a 2019 private sale. The marble base seems to have been lost and was not sold with the cup at these sales

Mr Sullivan receiving his trophy for swimming the Channel in 1923.

Mr Sullivan receiving his trophy for swimming the Channel in 1923. Alexander holding Sullivan’s daughter and wearing sunglasses, Jonas next to him in bow tie

A further cup was not purchased by Alexander and the Club fell largely into abeyance after 1923

The Newspaper Prizes

In June 1904 the Weekly Dispatch selected Jack Haggerty from 3,768 applications to be their Channel Swim aspirant. They would pay for all his costs for training and swimming for an attempt to be made that year. On August 24th 1904 he failed after just over an hour in the water.

In 1911, the first open-to-anyone financial prizes were offered for successful swims, £1000 from the Daily Sketch newspaper and £100 and silver cup from the John Bull magazine

Dover Express 25 August 1911: John Bull this week offered a silver cup and purse of £100 to first man to swim channel since Webb “provided due notice of the swim be given to us and that we are satisfied of the bona fides of the competitor” 

Both prizes were won by Thomas Burgess that same year. The John Bull didn’t renew its prize but the Daily Sketch continued to offer £1000 for a successful swim right up to 1926

John Bull 16th September 1911: Burgess Channel swim. Although Burgess did not strictly comply with our conditions by giving us due notice of his intention to attempt to swim the Channel, we have decided to waive any technical objection to his claim and it has been arranged that he shall be presented with the John Bull cup and cheque at the John Bull festival at the Crystal Palace on Saturday October 7th when he will give a swimming exhibition 

In 1923 American Henry Sullivan succeeded and claimed the Sketch prize

The Cornishman and Cornish Telegraph August 8th 1923: The Daily Sketch has decided to award £1,000 to Sullivan for swimming the Channel although he did not fulfill the condition of competition by giving the stipulated notice of intention to start. The Daily Sketch now offers £1,000 to the first man or woman who succeeds in in emulating Sullivan’s wonderful feat during this month

Tirabocchi also won the Daily Sketch prize a week after Sullivan but fellow American Charles Toth, who succeeded on the 9th September, was excluded because the Sketch had stated that the prize was only on offer until the end of August.

Gertrude Ederle was the last recipient of the Sketch prize, for her swim on 6th August 1926. Lord George Riddell, proprietor of the News of the World, was incensed by the domination of the Americans in the 1920s and in particular by Ederle beating several strong English swimmers to the title of first woman, so he too offered £1000 to any English swimmers who were successful. Norman Derham was the first winner, with his swim of 17th September 1926

On 10th October 1927 Dorothy Logan claimed a successful swim but before she was presented with her cheque from the News of the World, revealed it had been a hoax designed, she said, to illustrate how little evidence it took to claim a success and fool the newspapers

This caused a furore in both the media and in the world of swimming; both the News of the World and the Daily Sketch pulled their prize offers for Channel Swimming

The End of the Channel Swimming Club

On 11th October 1927 Dorothy Logan claimed the News of the World £1000 for a successful swim but then revealed it was a hoax on the 17th October. This also threw doubt on Mercedes Gleitz’s successful swim of 7th October, which, like Logan’s, had no independent witnesses. Gleitz tried the swim again on the 21st, this time with witnesses, but failed due to poor conditions. The whole affair caused a furore in the press who looked for an expert to comment on swim ratification – they found Adolph Alexander, still President of the Channel Swimming Club, although as he pointed out, the club had been inactive since Sullivan’s success in 1923. Alexander said regulation and ratification wasn’t the role of the CSC, and seeing as the ASA wasn’t prepared to take on the role because competitors were mostly professional, suggested an American swimming association take charge. This caused a rift with his friend and long-time Honorary Secretary, Alfred Jonas, who resigned from the CSC to form a new Channel Swimming Association to take on the governance and ratification of swims. The Channel Swimming Club became dormant with Jonas’s resignation in November 1927 and ceased to exist with Alexander’s death in 1931

Miss Gleitze Ready to Swim Again. “I think it is above a joke,” said Mr. A. Alexander, President of the Channel Swimming Club, which has been in abeyance since 1923. “What I am afraid of is that the public will look upon Channel swimming as something open to suspicion” October 17 1927 – Gloucester Citizen

Adolph Alexander died at the Hotel Great Central on 12th February 1931, aged 65. He died unmarried and left the bulk of his estate to various Jewish charities and synagogues in London and Hanley. His brother Theobald died within days of him.

The Channel Swimming Association 1927 – 1939

Alfred Jonas was born Isaac Jonas in Birmingham in 1861, son of Morris (Moses) Jonas, diamond merchant, and Sarah Boam. His father Morris was born in Nottingham where the family were Jewish jewellers, having originated as tailors in London. Morris and his brothers Isaac and Jonah were jewellers in Nottingham before Morris moved to Birmingham after his marriage to Sarah in London in 1860. Brother Isaac also moved to Birmingham when he married Sarah’s sister in 1861. In the 1870s Morris, Isaac and Jonah formed Jonas Brothers, jewellers and diamond merchants, owning their own diamond mines in South Africa. Morris and Jonah moved to London to open stores at Holborn and Leinster Gardens whilst Isaac ran the Birmingham business. They also retained their father’s Nottingham business after he retired.

Isaac, son of Morris, became, like most of his brothers, a stockbroker. For many years he had a stockjobber partnership with his youngest brother Gerald and they lived together as bachelors in Clarence Gate Gardens, London. They specialised in diamond and gold mining shares and South African securities. In the 1890s he adopted the name Alfred instead of Isaac. Father Morris died in 1906 and Alfred took over his jewelry business. He gave up stockbroking after the 1st World War and became a full-time diamond merchant, living with his unmarried sisters and brother at Leinster Gardens, Paddington.

In 1906, Jonas became a founding member of the Channel Swimming Club and was elected first as Treasurer and then as Hon. Secretary, a position he held until he split with the CSC and formed the CSA in 1927

In May 1908 he founded the Webb Memorial Fund to erect a fitting memorial at Dover to Captain Webb

…to erect a suitable memorial to a remarkable and unique performance and of the man who accomplished it. Personally, I will be happy to contribute the sum of five guineas.—-I am, &c., ALFRED JONAS. Treasurer, Channel Swimming Club, Great Smith-street, Westminster, May 1, 1908. [Mr Jonas has sent .with his letter a cheque for £5 5s… May 2, 1908 – Sporting Life

Adolph Alexander also contributed £2 2s and all the other members of the Channel Swimming Club contributed £1 1s each

Jonas had decided that something should be done to keep Captain Webb’s memory alive. The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) supported his idea and they asked William Henry Grenfell, 1st Baron Desborough (1855-1945), to be the Patron of a Webb Memorial Fund. Lord Desborough was an all-round sportsman who had swam the Niagara rapids twice as well as being one of the Oxford eight who had rowed from Dover to Calais in 1885. He was also President of the London Olympic Games in 1908. He was an excellent Patron and soon enough money was raised to commission a memorial from the well-known sculptor, Francis William Doyle-Jones (1873-1938). The fund carried on raising money to contribute to the planned Webb Memorial in Dawlish, his home town, to purchase the Webb Memorial Perpetual Trophy for the National Team Championship of England (presented to the ASA in March 1910, a silver miniature of the Webb bust and obelisk planned for Dover), to purchase the Conway Shield swimming trophy for the Conway Training Ship boys,  and to pay for a memorial tablet in Dawlish church.

An appropriate site was found on Clarence Lawn in front of the Burlington Hotel, Dover, and on 8 June 1910, Lord Desborough unveiled the finished memorial. It is a bronze bust surmounting a plinth of Peterhead granite and has a bronze inscription surrounded by bay leaves and seaweed. The bust is naked with the head turned slightly to the right but with the eyes looking out towards the Channel. The Mayor, Walter Emden, accepted the memorial on behalf of the town, in a grand ceremony. Among the guests were those who had accompanied Captain Webb on the great swim, including the Captain’s brother and cousin.

Unveiling Capt. Webb's Memorial

Unveiling Capt. Webb’s Memorial

The Fund still had money left over after the Webb memorial was completed and conveniently, in the following year on 6th September 1911, Thomas Burgess became the second man to swim the Channel, 36 years after Webb. Jonas used the surplus Fund money to commission a commemorative medal from memorial sculptor Doyle-Jones –  just 15 medals were made and were presented by Alfred Jonas to Burgess and his team of helpers at a dinner at the Holborn Restaurant on 9 November 1911. A silver-gilt one was presented to Burgess and 13 bronze copies were presented to his team, each inscribed with their names to the edge. The 15th, uninscribed, was retained by Jonas. The die was destroyed after the 15 were produced.

Jonas medal

Obverse: Head of Burgess (left). Legend: ‘BURGESS A. D. 1911.’ 

Inscription (on edge): [recipient’s name]


In leather case with watch-paper label; ‘Presented to —- who was one of the eleven occupants of the boat that accompanied BURGESS on his swim across the English Channel September 5th – 6th 1911 (Signature) Alfred Jonas. 15 only struck.’

Known whereabouts:-

  1. (Alfred Jonas) uninscribed – Dover Museum (Neil Tew Collection)
  2. Mercer – National Maritime Museum (Royal Museums Greenwich)
  3. Flood – Sold by Dix Noonan Webb, Piccadilly, London at auction of James Spencer collection 2013 for £120 (previously purchased by James Spencer at DNW auction 1998)
  4. A. Weidman – Sold (£200-300 estimate) at Baldwin’s of St. James 2013 (with label “Bt. from a small curio shop in Dover in the 1950s…paid 8/6”)
  5. A.Jefferies – Sold at auction (est.£120-150), DNW 2003 (unsold at DNW auction 2006)
  6. A.S.Wauchope-Watson – Dover Museum/Family ownership
  7. Unknown – sold at auction for £15 27/11/2005, London Coins Ltd, recipient not listed (possibly the Alfred Jonas uninscribed medal above)
Burgess Channel Swim Medal

Burgess Channel Swim Medal

Burgess Channel Swim Medal

Burgess Channel Swim Medal

On the 50th anniversary of Webb’s swim in 1925, Jonas and the Channel Swimming Club organised a jubilee event in Dover:-

Webb jubilee …wreaths to be laid at the foot of the statue by the Mayor of Dover, the Amateur Swimming Association. and Mr Alfred Jonas, founder of the Webb Memorial, London diamond broker, and one of the party who accompanied the captain on his swim, and the Channel Swimming Club August 26, 1925 – Coatbridge Express

This seems to be the last major event of the Channel Swimming Club and Jonas until the Logan scandal of 1927

The Dover Gold Cup Rules 1927 – 1934

Jonas split with the CSC in October 1927 to form a body that could regulate and authenticate Channel swims but there was a lot of resistance to the idea, especially in Dover, where there was resentment of ‘interfering’ by distant Londoners and where Dover Borough Council had already set up the Dover Gold Cup rules to achieve the same aim in May 1927

Dover Express 13th of May 1927: The Mayor’s social and sports committee have decided to invite subscriptions for providing a gold Challenge Cup which is to be offered to the swimmer who makes the best time on a swim from Dover to France. Channel swimming last year brought a very large number of swimmers to the town and also many visitors, and the publicity that Dover received in this way is a great benefit to the town. Last year most of the attempts were made from Gris Nez and the Mayor’s committee this year is, by offering the cup, taking steps to make Dover more than ever the centre of interest in the many attempts that will undoubtedly be made to swim the Channel this this year …Channel swimming has become a highly important branch of Sport in recent years owing to the participation of so many well-known swimmers from all parts of the world and it had such great interest that newspapers of the world have to devote much space to it. A large amount of money is spent in Dover each year in connection with these swims; and various countries train here and are accompanied by friends; many people interested in Channel swimming come to this town in connection with the attempts; many journalists, photographers, cinema agents, etc come to Dover to describe and picture the swims. Consequently hotels, boarding and lodging houses, boat owners and all classes of tradesmen benefit. The offer of a Challenge Cup will give additional impetus to the Channel swimming competition among swimmers and information already to hand shows that many attempts are likely this season. The cup competition will cause more than ever of the swimmers to train at Dover and in these circumstances I think all will agree it is in the best interests of the townspeople to support a fund to pay for such a cup 

Dover Gold Cup Rules published Dover Express August 1928:

  1. The competition is open to persons of either sex whether of amateur or professional status. The Cup shall be won outright by the competitor who swims from Dover or its immediate neighborhood to any point on the coast of France in the shortest time during the year 1928
  2.  A witness or witnesses appointed by the Mayor of Dover’s Sports and Social Committee must accompany each competitor, whose report as to compliance with the conditions will be in the form of a statutory declaration when a competitor claims to have accomplished the swim. Proper accommodation for the Committee’s witness or witnesses must be provided by the competitor in a boat which will accompany him
  3. Not less than six hours notice of the time and place of an intended start must be given to the Chief Constable at the police station, Dover, by either telephone (Dover 100), telegram, letter or personally
  4.  Every competitor must start from the shore (piers and boats barred) at a point between the South Foreland (to the east) and Lydden Spout Danger Rock (to the west)
  5.  No competitor shall swim in the shelter of two craft of any description, but may swim under the lee of one craft
  6. No assistance of any kind shall be given to a competitor except food and drink. A competitor must not be touched by any person nor may he hold onto a boat or anything else. Swimmers may accompany a competitor in the water.
  7.  A competitor shall not be allowed any body protection with the exception of a swimming costume of fabric (but this must not be of rubber or any like material), goggles, headcap or mask, and greasing of the body.
  8.  A competitor claiming success must submit his claim to the Mayor of Dover in writing within 12 hours of landing on the French shore and must furnish the Mayor within 24 hours with a statutory declaration containing the names of those who witnessed the swim.
  9.  The timing shall be carried out by the witness or witnesses appointed by the Committee, and each competitor shall be responsible for seeing that it is checked.
  10. The swim shall be considered accomplished as soon as a competitor can stand up on the French shore.

Two more controversial rules were added for the 1932 season

  1. Competitors must conduct their training at Dover
  2. Only Dover boats can be employed as pilot boats and support vessels

The money had been raised and the cup purchased by the sports and social committee by the time the Summer season of 1927 began but the first swimmer to register with the council for an attempt on the Dover Gold Cup was Clemmington Corson on 6th of September 1927

Attempts were made by all the top swimmers over the next few years, including Temme, Luscombe, Gill, Hawke, Brewster, Helmi and Huddlestone but the strict rules made possible success difficult and more costly – a number of swimmers opted to not compete for the Dover Gold Cup, especially if they thought they had a better chance on the ‘easy’ Calais-Dover route

If the cup was not won after a year, it had been decided at its inception in May 1927 that it would be incorporated into the ceremonial Town Plate collection, which could not be sold or given away. In 1928 the council had to extend the competition, which it managed to do despite opposition from some councillors who felt the cup had not done much to draw new business and trade to Dover. Mayor Barwick’s sports and social committee also ceased in 1928 with the end of his mayoralty, so the committee formally presented the cup to the Corporation with a proviso that the challenge would run for 3 more years. At the end of those 3 years, arguments raged again about the value of the competition to Dover; to try and encourage more benefit to the town, the two new rules compelling the use of Dover resources were added in 1932

Ted Temme finally won it 1934

Ted Temme

Ted Temme receives Dover Gold Cup

A gold classical urn vase with integral cover, with gadrooned decoration, two handles, conical cover with finial of a diving swimmer. Small enamel badge of Dover Town Arms to cover. Hallmarked for Birmingham 1926 and ‘9.375’ for 9ct gold. No maker’s mark. Supposedly commissioned from London silversmith Omar Ramsden but doesn’t have his mark and is hallmarked Birmingham. A hallmark of 1926 predates the decision to offer a cup so would indicate it was off-the-shelf rather than commissioned.

The body inscribed “Dover Gold Cup. Presented by the Town of Dover for the Channel Swim from Dover to France won by Edward Harry Temme on 18th August 1934. Time 15 hours 34 minutes”. On a black onyx base with silver plaque inscribed “Presented by the Mayor’s Social & Sports Committee 1928. R.J. Barwick, J.P., Mayor”   

(The Dover Gold Cup is now in the care of Dover Museum. In original wooden travel box, fitted with two solid gold snooker-sized balls, purpose unknown)

The Creation of the Channel Swimming Association

Alexander’s lack of enthusiasm for setting the Dorothy Logan scandal right forced Jonas to leave the Channel Swimming Club and set up a new body for stricter regulation;

The Dover Express 1st October 1927:  Mr A Jonas, the late Hon. Secretary of the Channel Swimming Club, sends us a long letter which, on account of lack of space, we are unable to reproduce in full, on the question of Channel swimming. He states that there has been formed a Channel Swimming Association which will draw up a code of rules governing Channel swimming, and investigate such swims, and that there is to be offered to those who swim from England to France a trophy, to be held by the swimmer who last swims the course. The trophy passes to the next person who does the swim. Medals as mementos are to be given to those who have made a swim or make it in future and diplomas to those who have or who accomplish the Grinez to England swim. Mr Jonas contends that the swim from England to France is the real test of swimming and that the France to England course bears no comparison to it. He further suggest that a National Sports Museum and Library should be formed where all records, and particularly those of Channel swims, should be preserved

Singapore Free Press, 22nd November 1927: CHANNEL SWIMMING. WORLD’S TROPHY FOR ENGLAND TO The President of the new Channel Swimming Association, Mr. Alfred Jonas, of 22, Ely Place, Holborn, has written to Captain Harry Pearson, of Walmer, the Channel swimming pilot, asking for his views on the decision to present a cup next year…

Confusingly, the Cross-Channel Swimming Club was founded in November 1926 but had nothing to do with cross-Channel swimming. It was created solely to raise funds for British swimmers, divers and water-poloists for the Olympic Games to be held across the Channel in Amsterdam in 1928. The club ceased to exist once the games commenced.

Jonas struggled to get the CSA off the ground – there was a fair amount of opposition, mainly because the sport involved both amateurs and professionals making it hard to be part of the ASA. Dover was vehemently against it as they considered their Dover Gold Cup rules were more than adequate; it didn’t help matters that when the CSA rules finally came out they had obviously been lifted from the Dover Gold Cup rules.

The Nottingham Journal 24th July 1928: Women Channel Swimmers

 Last year provided a crop of novel women heroines in the number of girls who attempted and succeeded in the cross-Channel swim and already the time has come for the training of those who intend to make a similar attempt this summer. Miss Laddie Sharp indeed already has announced her intention of making the crossing and made arrangements to have witnesses of her feat.  The avoidance of any such hoax on the public as was perpetrated by Dr Logan last year when she pretended to have swum the whole distance without doing any such thing is one of the most important questions that has come recently before the Amateur Swimming Association and the suggestion has been mooted for the forming of a cross-Channel Swimming Association to deal with a whole problem of the rules and conditions of this feat. That the idea has failed to materialize is due to the semi-professional element that is a part of this form of the sport

 Why is there so large an element of professionalism in cross-Channel swimming as to make it almost impossible to adopt it as an official part of the programme of the Amateur Swimming Association? 

“There are not many women” said Mr T Hirst, who is the honorary secretary of one of the most important English swimming clubs, “who can afford to undertake such a very expensive business as a cross-Channel swim without getting anything out of it in the end. They have, for instance, to give up their work for 3 months to go into training, to stay at the seaside for the practice, and to spend at least £100. For there are expenses of going across beforehand and the engagement of an English pilot and his boat, to say nothing of the wages of the crew, the masseur and the trainer.

 The programme for a Channel swimmer is roughly this then, that 3 months before she plans to make her attempt she must start practicing with increasing spells in the water. Beginning with an hour’s steady work she must gradually improve until she is capable of doing 6 hours without a break. 

Although it takes more than double this time to cross the Channel, a 6-hour training swim is the most that is usually undertaken, so a great reserve of endurance can be called forth in the actual event by any swimmer who has the temperament for big competitions. An expensive feature of cross-Channel swimming that is not popularly taken into account is the uncertainty of the tidal and weather conditions which make it impossible sometimes to attempt a swim within days of its announcement and which often causes a great deal of difficulty in the arranging of the details, as well,of course, as in the provisioning of the accompanying boat with supplies for the swimmer.

 That this form of exhibition swimming has had its greatest success for the time being and that it will cease to be so popular a test during the next few years is the opinion of Mr Hirst who regards it rather as a spectacular display than an important development in the future of the sport. Indeed he doubts whether this year will bring nearly so large a number of attempts especially in view of the Olympic games where all the notable swimmers of the country seem to be going either to compete or in the novel holiday party that is sailing for either a week or a fortnight to provide a nucleus of supporters to the English entrants. 

Jonas had taken with him the three swimmer vice-Presidents from the Channel Swimming Club – Burgess, Holbein and Wolfe, who all became officers of the CSA. They were joined by John Hayward, who had been the Daily Sketch journalist on the £1000 swims, and were later joined by Lord Ridell of the News of the World, who had been duped by Dr. Logan. Nevertheless, the CSA remained largely a paper exercise and barely held on through 1928. Its first major undertaking also caused an outcry  – the decision to start the ratification of previous swims already in the record books:-

Dover Express 17th of August 1928: Channel swimming. A strange statement

A good deal of surprise will be felt at a statement that the Channel Swimming Association is now investigating claims made by 13 persons that have swam the channel and have admitted five, viz:- Captain Webb, Mr T Burgess Mr E Tiraboschi, Gertrude Ederle and Mrs Clemington Corson. It would be interesting to know who forms the Channel Swimming association and in what manner they have asked people to make claims. According to the statement, several swims, although of the bona fides of which there is not the slightest doubt, have not been admitted and it would be well for those responsible for the statement that the Channel Swimming Association, which was believed to have to be defunct, is investigating claims to give particulars of the persons who are doing so. A properly formed Association of the heads of both the Amateur and Professional Swimming Associations is the only body who would be competent to deal with the matter and we do not see how they can do so with past swims, apart from Captain Webb’s, some of which are now a good many years old and those who have taken part in them are dispersed all over the world. 

Dover Express 24th of August 1928: We ask again –  who forms the Channel Swimming Association, and by what authority are they appointed, and what right have the Association to say whether a Channel swim was correctly carried out?  In the London Press there has been given a list of those who had accomplished the Channel which contains names of those whose swims were open to doubt. Certain names in this list are starred and it is stated that “they had been admitted by the recently formed Channel Swimming Association”. One of the names not starred was that of Sullivan and another Temme. It is an insult to both swimmers – who had an abundance of witnesses – that such a statement would be made and that their names to appear in the list which contains what it does! If a Channel Swimming Association is formed it should be formed by representatives appointed by the leading professional and amateur Swimming Clubs and it’s promotion and organisation should be done in public 

Photograph of Channel Swimming  Ivy Hawk

Photograph of Channel Swimmer Ivy Hawke with Thomas Burgess at Dover

Dover Express 31 August 1928: The Channel Swimming Association. What is this mysterious body? Miss Ivy Hawke’s ignorance.

Mis Ivy Hawke, who swam the Channel on Sunday of last week, writing in the “Sunday Express” on “How Channel swims can be faked”, says “You can be towed by a rope from a boat, take frequent and lengthy rests by hanging onto a collision fender on the boat side… In rough weather you can swim well in the lee of the accompanying tug, though personally I think the latter is more or less justified. So far as crossing in a boat is concerned, I am convinced that it could be done easily – and probably has been done for part of the journey at least. There are always plenty of French boatmen out for a little bakhsheesh. Swimming circles are convinced that one claimant paid nearly as much in hush money as was received in rewards”. She referred to the necessity for all swims being witnessed by an official body of some sort. Referring to the Channel Swimming Association, she says “Personally I had never heard of the Association in my six years of swimming until just before my own attempt and then neither Mr Burgess, my trainer, nor  myself could find out anything about it, much less its address. I did the next best thing by taking 28 independent witnesses, including three doctors, pressmen and a film operator. (Bizarely, Burgess was of course a vice president of the CSA and personally knew its founder Alfred Jonas)

 This only confirms the remarks made in these columns as to the Channel Swimming Association. No one has the least knowledge in Dover of such a body and it has not been appointed by either the body that looks after amateur or professional swimming nor by any swimming club. Such an Association must be a representative body and its members appointed in a proper manner. The Amateur Swimming Association has decided not to undertake the supervision of Channel swims, as most of those who have taken part are professionals or are swimming for a money prize. But as both professionals and amateurs in the true sense of the word take part in the swims, a joint body to control such swims would not be out of place, but it should be a truly representative body and not a body which no one knows who appointed it, its address, or its members. Regard the method of faking Channel swims, there are really only two ways – getting into a boat for part of the journey as Dr Dorothy Logan did, or else not starting from the French Coast as was done a good many years ago in a case of an attempt to swim a swim that never started till close to the English coast. As for hanging onto a rope, anyone who has tried this knows that it is even more exhausting than swimming and no real advantage would be gained except for covering a very short distance in an adverse tide. This, however, is only necessary near the coast and swims are then very closely watched. Swimming under the lee of a tug is no very great advantage as the eddies that are set up by the tug are not always helpful, although it may stop some rough sea. Swimming between two tugs, which gives far more shelter and also stops to a great extent the eddies that the single tug creates, is prohibited under the Dover Town Gold Cup rules. As regards the Channel swims that have taken place, they have, except in a very few cases, been conducted in the presence of sufficient independent witnesses. 

The Yorkshire Post 3rd of September 1928: Channel Swim.

 Lord Desborough has become first President of the Channel Swimming Association, which has been organised to give official recognition to those swimmers who satisfy the Committee as to the validity of their performances.

The Channel swims of H Sullivan in 1923 and C Toth in the same year have now been passed and a number of other claims, including those of Miss Ivy Hawke and Miss “Laddie” Sharpe, will be considered 

The first committee meeting was held in London on 27th June 1928. It was decided to invite delegates of various relevant organisations and bodies to attend the next meeting. In August 1928 Jonas’s friend and one-time Patron of the 1908 Webb Memorial Fund, Lord Desborough, was appointed President of the CSA, which helped the struggling association gain more ground as a legitimate organisation. The first Committee meeting with delegates was held on 30th August 1928, but without any Dover representation.

Dover Express 21 Sept 1928: The Channel Swimming Association. What is it?

 Since the first announcement appeared in the London papers that the Channel Swimming Association had passed certain Channel swims the questions have been asked repeatedly “What is the Channel Swimming Association? When was it formed? Whom does it consist of and who are the persons who have passed the swims as announced?” No answer has been made to these questions, although there is little doubt that they have come to the notice of those who send out the announcements in the name of the Channel Swimming Association. Beyond the fact that a statement has been made that Lord Desborough has accepted its presidency and that Mr Jonas was its honorary secretary, no information has been given to the public on the subject. A governing body in any sport can only have authority if it is publicly appointed by clubs and others who have taken part in the sport concerned, and without such authority announcements that have been made entirely without any weight.

 The first information obtained on the subject arose from the “Phare de Calais”, one of the newspapers of that town, making a strong objection to a body in England, which had no representatives from the Continent, deciding such matters as the bona fides of swims in which English people were not concerned. This brought a letter, which appeared on Friday, from the Mayor of Calais, Mons. Leon Vincent, in which he stated that the Corporation of Dover, the Dover Swimming Club and the governing body of swimming in France had been invited to attend conferences when occasion arose. It appears that the Mayor of Calais has taken upon himself to act as the delegate of the “Lifesaving Federation of France” as they considered themselves more concerned than the French Swimming Association and he accordingly attended a meeting of the Committee on August 30th. As soon as this information appeared we at once inquired from the officials of The Corporation what action has been taken in the matter and they stated that such an invitation had been received and would be considered by the Dover Baths Committee when it next met – so there has been no representative from Dover present at any meeting of the Channel Swimming Association, and the Corporation up to the present is not a member! The same thing appears to have occurred in connection with the Dover Swimming Club. They have appointed no representative and have not been present at any meeting. They have made enquiries of the Amateur Swimming Association as to what steps they shall take as they are not allowed to deal with professionals, as many of the Channel swimmers are. It is time that some very definite statement as to the membership and authority of this Association was made public. It might be pointed out that in one case the Association has stated that it has passed a swim that would not be recognised under the Dover Town Gold Cup rules. 

Dover Express 5th October 1928: The Channel Swimming Association: An unsatisfactory explanation.

In reply to the repeated enquiries that have appeared in these columns as to the constitution, formation and authority of the Channel Swimming Association for their assumption of judicial authority as to Channel swimming, the following letter has been received from Mr Hayward, who is connected with the journalistic staff of the “Daily Sketch”:-

 “Dear Sir

 What is the Channel Swimming Association?

The people of Dover having been interested in Channel swimming for many years, have a right to ask this question.

 Let me do my best to answer it.

Membership of the CSA, to quote its own rules, is open to all persons interested in swimming. There is an annual subscription of a guinea for full members, and as in any other similar body, an intending member has to be proposed and seconded and accepted by a majority vote

Lord Desborough is President, Mr. H.T. Bretton, a past president of the Amateur Swimming Association, is chairman and Mr Alfred Jonas, whose lifelong interest in Channel swimming is well-known, is honorary secretary. The Association has a member of an eminent firm of lawyers as honorary standing solicitor and was guided at its formation by the advice of an eminent and titled K.C.

Now a word as to one of the duties it has undertaken. Dover people have good reason to know of the existence of rumours affecting Channel swimming. I think I shall have them with me when I assert that it is a good thing in the interest of British sport that there should be somebody able and willing to say ‘so and so has proved to us beyond possible doubt his or her claim to have swum the Channel’.

 The most suitable body for this purpose was obviously the Amateur Swimming Association. Unfortunately the ASA is debarred by its constitution from any connection with professional affairs, and nearly all Channel swimmers happen to be professionals. 

There are no Channel swimming clubs to appoint representatives to form an Association. To suggest that Channel swimmers themselves should decide, or be allowed to appoint others to decide, on the merits of their performances would be as humorous as to suggest that Dempsey, Heeney, Firpo – “the wild bull of the Pampas”, and other prizefighters should form the governing body of boxing.

 There is no constitutional method of forming a Channel Swimming Association. The only method is the one which has been adopted, that is, for the men who are sufficiently keen to get together and do what they can. That has been done. The CSA welcomes all help it can get from well-informed quarters. For that reason, the Dover Corporation, which has offered a gold cup, and the Dover Swimming Club have been invited to nominate representatives

 I must add that although membership is open to all interested in swimming, no one who has had any pecuniary interest in the success of a Channel swimmer may vote on a question affecting a swimmer’s claim. That provision has been inserted in order that no suspicion of prejudice may arise.

 I have seen a statement to the effect that the Association has passed a swim which would be barred by the Dover Cup rules. This refers, I am told, to Miss Ederle’s two tugs. 

Miss Ederle did not have two tugs. What happened was that the opposition American press barred from her tug, determined to follow her and wireless her progress. They engaged a second tug and several times during the swim, anxious to get photographs as well as news, ordered their tug to get as near as possible. Every time this happened Miss Ederle was nearly swamped by the wash set up between the two tugs.

 It will be a long time before I forget the scene when ‘Pop’ Ederle, her father, boiling with rage and swearing volubly, threatened to shoot the occupants of the other tug if they did not sheer off.

 If this is an infringement then a swimmer can always prevent a rival from carrying off the Dover Gold Cup by the simple expedient of engaging a second tug to ‘watch the swim’. 

Yours faithfully, John Hayward

The letter, we fear, does not make the position at all satisfactory. In all sports, the association that holds the controlling hand and passes records etc is one that is composed of representatives of the sport concerned, elected from candidates put forward by the clubs concerned in the sport. The Channel Swimming Association does not represent any such bodies, but a membership that apparently is open to any person without qualification at all. No sport has hitherto been under the control of such a body. The information as to the constitution of the committee is lacking, and also when and by whom the officials were appointed. Moreover, it must be recognised that this body of private persons is not only assuming the control of Channel swimmers belonging to this country, but to all other countries, and that action is being resented abroad and cannot be justified. More than half the successful Channel swimmers are of foreign nationality and their countries are entitled to an equal right in taking part in any judicial decisions arrived at. It might be that there is some difficulty in getting the Amateur and Professional Swimming Associations into line to deal with the swims as a whole, but surely the Amateur Swimming Associations of the countries to which the swimmers belong is the proper body to pass any record or feat of amateur swimmers, as they do in respect to all other swimming records, and the Professional Associations of the countries concerned should deal with professional swimmers. A joint international body, elected by the amateur and professional associations, could surely deal with the question if steps were taken to obtain the formation of such a body, but it does seem quite out of place for a self-appointed body of persons not in control of the sport, to set themselves up as a judicial body and send letters to swimmers who have claimed success, asking them to give evidence to justify their claims. If there is really sufficient ground for suggesting that professional claims and amateur claims cannot be dealt with by a joint body, apparently on the ground that an amateur might lose his status, the Channel Swimming Association is putting amateur swimmers at some risk in so dealing with the matter. So far as the information given goes – and it will be noted that although Mr Hayward says he is a member he does not state he is an official – it is of so scanty a nature that the present position is most unsatisfactory. 

Dover Express 12th October 1928: Dover Baths Committee: The Channel Swimming Association

The clerk Mr W Ransome read the following letter:-

Dear Sir – As Hon. Secretary of the above I have been directed to send you a copy of a resolution passed by the Committee at the meeting on 27th June last which is as follows:- it was decided to invite the Dover Corporation, the Dover Swimming Club, and the governing body of swimming in France to appoint delegates who might attend conferences held as occasion may arise. I need hardly say that it is sincerely hoped that the Association may receive the support and cooperation desired and I shall be glad to be informed of the acceptance of the proposal and the name of your representative as soon as possible.

 Alfred Jonas, Hon. Secretary

 Channel Swimming Association

 24th July 1928

Councillor Pearce asked who formed the Association. The clerk said he understood it was formed by Mr Jonas who had been generally interested in Channel swimming for years.  Councillor Dawes said that it was only another conference with more expense to the Corporation. He moved no action. If the swimming club liked to go it was another matter. Councillor Norman said he would second. The resolution was carried.

On 14th August 1929 the first official CSA swim took place, a failed attempt by Connie Gilhead. She had CSA observers, time-keeper and pilot, the Frenchman Joe Costa, who had been a French delegate along with the Mayor of Calais to the Committee meeting of 30th August 1928

15/8/1929: “the attempt will be observed by the officials of the CSA,under the control of Joe Costa”

Sports Special 14th September 1929: Channel swimming season.  Body to safeguard aspirants and public.

Channel swimming is now with us and already several attempts have been made. Such is the public interest in these endurance and stamina swims that it became desirable that they should be under the government of some body and they are now under the control of the Channel Swimming Association, an organisation specially created to safeguard both the public and swimmers.

 It has for president Lord Desborough and Lord Riddell is the vice president. The honorary secretary is Mr Alfred Jonas, the founder of the Webb Memorial and on the committee are Messrs HT Bretton and GH Rope, both past presidents of the English Amateur Swimming Association, the well-known Channel swimmers TW Burgess, Montague Holbein and JB Wolffe, G Ward the brother-in-law of the late Captain Webb, J M Dick and J Hayward.

Eleven Channel swimmers have had the swims officially recognised by the Association and others are still under consideration.Diplomas will be presented to each successful swimmer acknowledged by the Association 

Alfred Jonas, 78, unmarried diamond broker, fell dead on 19th April 1937 at the Hampden Club where he lived, in Hampden Street, N.W., London, and jewellery valued at thousands of pounds was found on him. The inquest on him was adjourned to find whom the jewellery belonged to

Jonas’s death in 1937 meant much of the impetus behind the CSA died with him. It was kept going largely by Hayward, the Daily Sketch reporter, and Bretton of the ASA, but its role fell largely to just rubber-stamping applications in an office in London rather than organising down at Dover. With no swims allowed from September 1939, the CSA quietly closed its books and disappeared

A New Channel Swimming Association 1949

After the end of the war in 1945, Jorges Berroeta of Chile was the first Channel  attempt, on 24th August 1946, but there were 13 more swims including 3 successes before anyone thought to raise the problem of ratification and verification:-

The Nottingham Evening Post 24th July 1948: Tom Blowers attempt to swim Dover to France and back again.

As the Channel Swimming Association is now defunct, the swim secretary Mr K D Ponsford wrote to the ASA in the hope they would give a ruling on how long may be spent on the French coast before returning so that the swim can be considered a double crossing.

 The ASA stated that they had no power to make a ruling of that nature and suggested that  “A man attempting such a feat should not be trammelled by rulings and regulations. Surely the only ruling required in the case of this swim is to get across and back as best you can and to thank God for the power to do it”

 “As this great feat has never been done before, the time spent on the French coast has never been considered. No doubt the overall time will be the telling factor if any future attempts are made” says Mr Ponsford….that Tom should get ashore, be regreased and have a good meal – cooked by his wife – all in 10 to 15 minutes. The Channel Swimming Association is now defunct, the swim secretary, Mr. K. D. Ponsford, wrote to the A.S.A. in the hope they would give a ruling

In 1938 Folkestone had opened an Olympic-standard open air swimming pool on the beach, with the latest facilities. It closed almost immediately because of the war but when it reopened in 1946, Ted Temme, winner of the Dover Gold Cup and now a long distance swimming coach, based his training camp at the pool. As well as being largely destroyed, Dover had been under military occupation and to some extent still was when Channel Swimming began again in 1946. As well as the pool, Folkestone still had the accommodation and leisure facilities that war-torn, military-occupied Dover as yet did not

Folkestone Swimming Club Pool

Folkestone Swimming Pool

Temme worked with the Folkestone Swimming Club who were based at the pool, and in particular ex-police inspector Bill Floyd. They also got to know Haydn Taylor, who had been a member of the old CSA and had swum the Channel in 1935, and the three of them began to talk about reviving the CSA

Dover Express 3rd of September 1948: It is stated that the latest crossing from Dover to France broke the record. The Channel Swimming Association was referee as to records but whether that body still functions is doubtful. Mr Haydn Taylor who swam the Channel some years ago was endeavoring to resuscitate it after the war, but we have not heard how successful his efforts were. Such a body ought to be in existence to enable proper steps to be taken to safeguard authenticity.

The CSA was revived on paper but not formally or officially. On 26th August 1949 Temme’s pupil (and later wife) Willi Van Rijsel made an attempt, with Temme describing himself in publicity as “trainer and representative of the CSA” and the Jose Cortinas attempt of 18th August 1949 was accompanied by Mr Ranson, “official delegate of the CSA”.

The first true CSA-organised swim was that of Mareeh Hassan Hammad of Egypt on 29th August 1949. An Egyptian team of Hamed, Attallah, Abdu, and Rehim and their large entourage had based themselves in Folkestone for August to October 1949, using the pool and under the care of Bill Floyd and Temme utilising the CSA name. They had organised a successful relay swim for the Egyptians on 5th August but the CSA did not record relay swims at that time. The only success of the Egyptian team, and the first CSA supervised successful swim, was Hassan Abdel Rehim on 17th September 1949

All of these swims under the CSA name were unofficial; the Association was not formally revived until a public meeting at Folkestone Town Hall on 1st November 1949 approved the idea and elected a pro tem committee. H.T. Bretton, who had taken over from Jonas in 1937, attended the meeting and later handed over the records of the old CSA to the new committee.

Evening Telegraph & Post 8 Sept 1949: Soon there may be an official Observer following every Channel swimmer in a boat. This autumn the Channel Swimming Association, dissolved in 1939, is to be reformed

At present the facts of a Channel swim are authenticated by independent witnesses. There is no body to which reports can be sent.

 The Association, said Mr EH Temme, Channel swimmer and coach, will probably form a select committee including members of the Amateur Swimming Association. There would be a panel of observers.

Affidavits and a log are required with a chart of the route for a swim to be officially proved. One rule is that no one must touch the swimmer on the crossing or the swim is “off”

Once again, Dover was opposed to the new CSA because it was seen as purely a Folkestone invention and an attempt to wrest Dover’s position away as the HQ for Channel swimming.

Dover Express 28th October 1949: Channel Swimming

Folkestone has just discovered that there is such a thing as Channel Swimming and is out to cash in on it. This follows this year’s phenomenal summer, in which half a dozen Egyptians made their headquarters at Folkestone instead of Dover as they had done before.

The remainder of the international aspirants for Channel swimming honours, except for Dr Brewster, and the rather pathetic young Dutch flower shop girl, stayed in Dover as the logical spot for starting any attempt from this side or for finishing a swim. In addition, the harbour provided them with a fine training ground when conditions out in the Channel were impossible, and we believe they were well satisfied with their treatment in the town.

To encourage more aspirants next year, Folkestone is talking of offering two  trophies, one for individuals and the other for teams, which it is hoped will be of international character. A meeting is being held next week to further the proposal, and the Amateur Swimming Association is said to be interested. There would need to be some stringent rules, e.g. if it is to be confined to amateurs because Channel swimming can be a costly business. Whether Folkestone will wish to add conditions to keep the trade in the town remains to be seen. 

It will be remembered that in 1927 the Dover Gold Cup was offered for the fastest swim from England to France, and it was not won until 1934, Mr EH Temme then securing it. Dover cannot afford a gold cup to 1950, but it’s Entertainments Committee might consider the matter.

Of more lasting importance, however, is the proposal to revive the Channel Swimming Association. It was founded in 1927, at the time that Dr Logan was prosecuted for making a false statutory declaration that she had swum the Channel. This Association made very stringent rules for ensuring that claimed swims were authentic, and hoped to be able to provide a witness, but this did not always prove possible. After the war, the organisation became forgotten, and none of the swims since has received its official certificate. When it resumes working, the Committee could examine these swims and remove some of the doubts which occasionally have arisen.

It might be worth Dover’s while to offer some small token to any successful swimmer who trains at Dover, and whose swim was recognised by the Channel Swimming Association. 

Dover Express 4th of November 1949: To the editor of The Dover Express:-

Dear Sir –  I am informed that some Dover people regard with alarm the proposal by the townspeople of Folkestone to raise money in the town for the purpose of providing trophies for Channel swimming which may cause Folkestone to be regarded as Channel swimming headquarters. As one of the prime movers, I would like to make it quite clear that there is no intention to try and take anything from our neighbouring town of Dover. I feel sure that the setting up of an authority who properly observe swims and issue certificates would be welcomed by the swimmers and the provision of trophies should encourage more to make the attempts. As there could never be any direction to swimmers and their coaches as to where they should train and/or obtain their boats, it appears that Dover may reap some benefit.

Until the outbreak of War there was in existence an official body called the Channel Swimming Association which issued a certificate to successful Channel swimmers providing they were able to produce proof. All of the swimmers were required to produce a chart showing the course taken and log recording incidents, attested affidavits of swimmer and pilot and evidence of at least three witnesses not members of the crew of the accompanying boat. The need for these rules is apparent. This Association has not functioned since the war.

A public meeting of those interested in the provision of trophies took place at Folkestone Town Hall on Monday and among those attending was Mr H. T. Bretton, the last chairman of the Channel Swimming Association. At the meeting it was unanimously decided to go ahead with the scheme and continue the work of the old Association. The records of the old Association are being handed over to the new committee.

If Dover are interested in taking some active part in the re-formation of the Association I feel sure that this would be welcomed by the new committee and I personally will be willing to put forward any suggestion made. When the Channel Swimming Association was formed in 1927, representatives of Dover and Calais were invited to take part. French representatives were appointed but Dover did not respond. It appeared that the people of Dover were not interested…..

W. Floyd, 83 Harcourt Rd., Folkestone

Dover Express 9th of December 1949: Trophies and monetary awards have been announced for next summers Channel swimmers. The recently re-formed Channel Swimming Association has decided to offer two trophies while the Daily Mail has put up a £1,000 prize for a race across the channel.

At a recent meeting in Folkestone, the Association decided to present trophies for an individual swim and a team event. The individual award will be known as the Webb Trophy in memory of Captain Webb. It will be retained in Folkestone and the names of all successful swimmers will be inscribed upon it. They will each be given a momento.

 The “Folkestone Trophy” will go to the team setting up the fastest time for a relay swim. The trophy itself will be sent to the country of the winning team and team members will get medals or suitable replicas.

The £1,000 race is being organised by Mr EH Temme, first man to swim the channel both ways

Dover Express 16th of June 1950: A claim that Dover would share in the advantages to be gained of the establishment at Folkestone of the Channel Swimming Association was made at a meeting of the Association last week.

But Mr FC Gwynne who made that statement also said that the re-emergence of the Association and its decision to investigate all claims to have swam the Channel would indelibly link Folkestone with Channel swimming.

 Mr A.M. Bond of Dover who was elected to the committee, stated that he knew a number of swimmers were going into training at Dover this year, including Philip Mickman who, having swum from France to England, was to make an attempt in the reverse direction.

The Hon. Secretary Mr W Floyd said the Association would try to send observers on swims and if that was not possible claimants would have to submit documents and charts to support their claims. If the committee was satisfied certificates would be issued. The Association would help swimmers with information about the Channel tides and weather.

Dover Express 14th of July 1950:  The Channel Swimming Association recently re-formed at Folkestone has now passed out of the initial stages in which certain members were anxious to make it an advertising medium for that town and has developed into a recognised section of the Kent Amateur Swimming Association.

At a meeting of the Association on Sunday Mr. E.G. Maples of the Southern Counties ASA was elected chairman and Mr A M Bond of Dover vice-chairman. Mr Bond was asked to endeavour to interest other Dover people in joining the Association which will examine all claims to have swum the Channel and issue certificates when satisfied of the bonafides of a swim

In 1949 the Daily Mail announced it was sponsoring an International Cross-Channel Race to take place in August 1950. Ted Temme was appointed supervising trainer and had the job of selecting the 24 places available to applicants. Folkestone Town Council was to supply the open air pool for training and the Leas Cliff Hall for the dinner and prize-giving. The Daily Mail would pay for accommodation, facilities, pilot boats, etc. and provide a prize of £1000 each for 1st man and 1st women and £250 for every finisher as well as various medals and cups.

The Daily Mail had not heard of the nascent CSA and weren’t interested in having a third party lay down rules and regulations when it had its own. They refused to pay CSA fees for registering a swim or for observers and the CSA countered by saying no successful swims would be recognised by the CSA without the fees being paid. The CSA had condemned itself to being outsiders for all the subsequent annual Channel races up to 1959. Their old friends, the Egyptians, who had returned for the 1950 race, applied immediately after the race for CSA ratification, which was granted. Over the subsequent years some, but not all, of the successful race swimmers have paid their fees and provided their swim log to have their swims ratified by the CSA.

Egyptian Swim Team 1951

Egyptian Swim Team 1951, Folkestone Open Air Pool

Margaret Feather seems to be the first swimmer to organise an attempt through the CSA directly, in September 1950, but bad weather prevented the swim. The first successful CSA-organised swim was Philip Rising on 27th July 1951.

The Daily Mail organised a 2nd race in 1951 and thereafter Butlins took over and organised races until 1959. The whole of the 50s were dominated by the races and the CSA’s role was largely reduced to being merely a verification body.

From 1960 the CSA took a much stronger role in governing and organising swims as well as ratifying them. Both the ASA and the BLDSA regarded the CSA as the sole governing body for Cross-Channel Swimming. When King Faisal and the Saudi Arabian Swimming Federation relaunched the annual Channel races based at Folkestone pool in 1975, they used the CSA as the organising body; initially only open to Arabic swimmers, the last two races in 1978 and 1979 were International, open to all.

Channel Swim CSA Badge

Channel Swim CSA Badge (Norman Trusty’s, with successes)

Major change came in 1993 when the French Coastguard banned all ‘Crazy Crossings’ of the Channel, as a nuisance to the busy shipping lanes, beginning with the 1994 season. As well as stunt crossings by bed, giant shoe, barrel, and the like, the ban also included cross-Channel swimming but protestations saw the French relent slightly – there could be no more crossings starting in France and swimmers from England could only rest briefly on the French shore below the high water mark and then swim back to their pilot boat. Plus, all such swims had to be organised solely through the CSA. Since then, only England-France crossings have been allowed

In 1999 an acrimonious split began in the CSA which, despite heated meetings, could not be resolved. Disaffected members left to form the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation in 2000 as a rival governing body – they were recognised by the ASA and BLDSA and, more importantly, gained permission from the French Coastguard to conduct Channel swims along with the CSA. A few relays were conducted under the CSPF banner late in the 2000 season but their first successful solo swim was Pat Nash on 2nd July 2001


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