Bob Paysour, Jenny James, Toufic Bleik & Antonio Abertondo 1954 Race

Bob Paysour

Butlin’s International Channel Swim, 1954. Cap-Gris-Nez. Swimmers making their way to the start of the race. They are Bob Paysour, U.S.A.; Jenny James, Great Britain; Toufic Bleik, Lebanon; and Antonio Abertondo, Argentina.

Robert Frederic Paysor, USA, had two unsuccessful swims, both France- England, 14th August 1952, time 12hrs 15mins, and then swam in the Billy Butlin swim 21st August 1954, time 12hrs 40mins.

He swam 22 miles upstream in the Catawba River, 1950.

Jenny James swam the Channel in the 2nd Daily Mail Race 1951 in a time of 13 hours 55 minutes, becoming the first Welsh woman to succeed, she was placed 12th, 4th woman. She then entered the Billy Butlin 1953, 1954, 1955, and 1956 races but did not swim for several reasons. She had one unsuccessful attempt in 1952 but was seasick after 2 hours 49 minutes. She was the first woman to swim the Bristol Channel both ways.

On his one successful swim, Bleik set off from Cap Gris-Nez in the early hours of Bank Holiday Monday Aug 3 1953. He landed at St Margaret’s Bay shortly before 6 00 pm. His time was 16 hrs 05 min. He swam into a thick patch of oil discharged from a tanker and had some difficulty with his goggles. He had three unsuccessful attempts: 25/07/1953. (12 hours), the 1954  Billy Butlin race for 16hrs, and in the 1955 Butlins he swam 3hrs 53mins.

Abertondo made one unsuccessful attempt Aug 7 1950, time 25 hours. He was one mile from England. Successes were Aug 22 1950 and Aug 16 1951 Daily Mail races; he was placed 8th and 14th. Aug 21 1954 was a Billy Butlin race, he was placed 6th. In 1950 he swam 168 miles down the river Plate in 61 hrs. He once swam 291 miles down the Mississippi River in 3 days 9 hours. Abertondo was sponsored by the Argentine Government. Carlos Artuz was Antonio Abertondo’s trainer.

Black and white photograph from the Sam Rockett collection.

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