Logan, Dr. Dorothy Cochrane

See ‘Mona MacLellan’, her pseudonym, for other failed swims

Born Dublin 1888 to Quentin Logan, an army officer born in Jamaica to a military family. Soon after, the family moved to Kent and in the 1890s Quentin took on the Seabrook Hotel in Hythe when he retired from the army.

Moved 1905 to Cardiff and then 1906 to London to study medicine. Qualified 1912 and began practising in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Had set up in Harley Street by 1920

Served in French Red Cross in WWI in 1918 as a doctor at the Scottish Women’s Hospital in Royaumont, France but was dismissed in June 1918 after just 3 months.

In 1929 she married in Wandsworth her trainer and Channel swimmer Horace Carey, 8 years her junior and a driver for East Kent Buses, and they lived at Hythe. Dorothy was a gynacologist specialist in London and only spent the weekends in Hythe. She had met Carey in 1925 when both were training to swim the Channel

The couple had a daughter but separated in 1930 and finally divorced in 1939. Her daughter, born London in 1929, was baptised at Saltwood, Hythe, Joan Mona MacLellan Cochrane Carey. The couple were in constant dispute over custody of the child

During the war, from 1939, she was a surgeon at the Swandean Isolation Hospital in Worthing, Sussex

She emigrated with her daughter Joan to New Zealand after the war and died at Whitianga on 19 July 1961.

At 39 Harley Street, female patients could consult Dr Dorothy Cochrane Logan, who practiced in general obscurity until October 1927 when her name became known worldwide overnight.

On the evening of 10th October, Dr Logan walked into the waters of the English Channel at Cap Griz Nez, near Calais, wearing nothing but her goggles; her female form was coated with the recommended black axle grease.

Dr Logan had previously swum under the name of ‘Mona McLellan’, wishing to keep her professional and natatorial lives separate. She had tried the crossing twice before, but failed. Curiously, her third effort had not been publicly announced. Carey said it had been a last minute decision taken because the conditions were just too good. The waters were smooth and warm, and overhead hung a splendid moon. Through the night, pausing only for some beef tea, Dorothy swam magnificently, mostly employing the backstroke, her favourite. When the sun rose, and helped by a powerful tide, she made excellent progress and climbed out of the waters near Shakespeare’s Cliff at 8:50 in the morning. Ederle’s record had been broken by an impressive one hour and 13 minutes.

The News of the World summoned Dr Logan to London the following day to present her with a cheque for £1,000. The paper’s owner, Lord Riddell, had put up the sum for any British woman who could better Ederle’s time. An affidavit was placed before the new record holder: “I, Dorothy Cochrane Logan of Harley Street, in the county of London, do, at the office of The News of the World to claim their £1,000 prize, solemnly and sincerely declare…” to whit, that she swam the whole way, that she never left the water, that she had no physical assistance, and that she hadn’t been towed in any way. She signed it and walked out with the money, and the newspaper wired its exclusive to the world.

The following Monday, 17th October, Dr Logan called upon Sir Emsley Carr, editor of the News of the World. “Sir Emsley,”she asked,“do you believe I swam the Channel?” The editor nodded. “Well,I did nothing of the kind and I want you to tell the world.” What was quickly labeled ‘the Hoax of the Century’ all began as some good-natured chaff. Channel swims were ‘the thing’ that year. In good weather, there might be a half dozen swimmers in the water at any time. So many, apparently, that a ‘hazard to navigation’ warning was issued in the Dover Strait.

Dr Logan admitted that she, tainer Horace Carey and a few others were sitting around in Hythe discussing the complete lack of any rules or governing body to authenticate a Channel swim. Why, anyone with a swimming costume could wade into La Manche then bob up in old Blighty and claim a new record. “Let’s do this,” someone said, as someone always will. Before the fact, Dorothy wrote her “manifesto”: “I intend to get across somehow with the purpose of proving the necessity of independent umpires to prevent possible abuses.” She mailed one copy to her office in Harley Street and the other went into the hotel safe in Hythe.

Carey had kept a private, detailed chronology of the crossing. Dr Logan had, in fact, entered the water, fully greased, at 7:40 on Monday evening. What was not previously acknowledged was that, two hours later, at 9:30, Carey “took swimmer out of the water”. Dorothy, who was a much better swimmer than a sailor, then spent several seasick hours, wrapped in a rug in a little cabin below deck with “a vile and wicked stove”. Then, at 6:20 in the morning, the diary laconically reveals,“swimmer re-greased & entered water three miles s-e from S Foreland Lighthouse”. It was broad daylight but they were unobserved. So strong was the tide and the current that Dr Logan had to tread water so as not to arrive too soon and spoil the hoax.

The news was stunning.“The mysterious medico” went into hiding, insisting that her object had beena chieved. Until the Channel Swimming Association set procedures and authentication standards, no records can have any validity. “I am sure the end will justify the means,”said Dorothy.To her credit, she’d never cashed the cheque for £1,000 but took it to her bank in Harley Street and signed it back to the account of the newspaper.

on 7th November 1927 Dorothy Logan was fined £100 and £10 10s costs for swearing to a false affidavit, “treating with contempt and ridicule an important part of our legal system”. The BMA. went from honouring her at dinner to making a bid to strike her off the Medical Register. At her hearing,she told her fellow physicians: “I am sorry I was such an idiot.” They did not expel her but censured her, declaring that she “imperfectly realises the importance of a doctor’s signature”

Swims by Logan, Dr. Dorothy Cochrane

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