Eileen Fenton and Hassan abd el Rehim, Folkestone Pool

Known as Britain’s “mighty atom” Eileen was a scripture teacher. She weighed 8 stone 2 pounds, and was five foot one inch tall. In 1950 The Daily Mail’s International Cross Channel Race was backed by children’s pocket money and a general collection from townspeople. 

Eileen Fenton, a 21 year old scripture teacher from Dewsbury, Yorkshire, was the first lady to finish the 1950 race, in a time of 15hrs 31mins, and received a winners cheque of £1000

The townsfolk of Dewsbury in Yorkshire paid Eileens expenses by raising a subscription fund. Alderman M. Scargill, said: ” A few sceptics thought that Eileen was such a slight, quiet sort of a girl that she would not stand a chance. But the town backed her to the hilt and we have won handsomely.”

In the 1951 race she was unsuccessful in a time of 12hrs 50mins.

Eileen is a founder member of the British Long Distance Swimming Association

Hassan Abd El Rehim, Egypt. Hassan Abd El Rehim swam in the Daily Mail International Race in 1950. He came first in a time of 10hrs 49mins. He was 41 years of age at the time of the swim. He landed at the South Foreland. His pilot was Harry Sharp, and the pilot boat was the “Britannia”

He also swam in the Daily Mail “Festival of Britain” International Race 1951, and was placed third in a time of 12hrs 25mins landing at Shakespeare Cliff. His pilot was E. Duggen, and the pilot boat was the “Early Morn”.

In 1948 he swam from Cap-Gris-Nez to St. Margaret’s Bay in 17hrs 38mins and in 1949 from St.Margaret’s Bay to Cap-Gris-Nez in 15hrs 48mins. At that time became the third person to conquer the Channel in both directions, sharing that distinction with Ted Temme (1934) and Tom Blower (1948).

July 31st 1952 Hassan swam 16 miles from England to Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel and qualified to win four fat Bullocks or £250.  

A Black and White photograph.  From the Rob Whitewood collection.

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