Johnson, John Baptist
JOHN BAPTIST JOHNSON (LEEDS) (1849 – April 13 1915)
Dover Express Sept 17th 1909. A report of the 1872 swim, claiming it was simply a publicity stunt; Johnson was a High Diver rather than a distance swimmer
On the 2 of June 1871 he arranged for his brother Peter, to fall of a boat into the River Thames. J. B. dove off the London Bridge to save him. He once dove forty five feet into 2ft 6ins of water.
In Sept 1873 J. B. Johnson became the Two mile champion of England when he won a race down the Thames. F. Cavill and J Collard dead-heated for second, Peter Johnson fourth.
18 Aug 1873 Johnson won the Swimming championship of England for the 3rd successive year, the Cup valued at 50 guineas was then his to keep. The race was held in the Serpentine Hyde Park.
Johnson beat A. Trautz, the reigning American champion, in Long Beach, New Jersey, in 1874 to become the Champion of the World, winning $2000 and a Tiffany cup.
1875 Johnson beat Thomas Coyle (a naturalized Irishman) down the Delaware river; the winning time for the ten mile swim was 2 hrs 46 min, winning a further $2000
Johnson died 1915 from dropsy and heart trouble. He was buried at the Southern Cemetery Manchester. He was an instructor and attendant at Gorton swimming Baths, Manchester. During his ill health he had to relinquish the duties of instructor. During his early days, he had a great reputation as a Trapeze artist, he worked without a net and did a double somersault before catching the bar. His brother Peter died Jan 4th 1890. He was lame in one leg and died in Prague.