Nicks, Agnes

Agnes traded on her youthfulness as a champion swimmer and took prizes for junior wins; unfortunately she lied about her age and when she was being feted as a 16- or 17- year-old wunderkind she was already 20 and 21. After about 1925, in all official documents right up to her death, she claimed a birth date of 1 June 1910 but there is no doubt she was born 1 June 1906

Agnes Claire Eva Nicks, born Upper Holloway 1/6/1906, daughter of William Nicks, maker of draper’s stands and dressmaker’s busts, and Emily Gray (married 1898)

She became a typist in London

Walter Brickett was her trainer and she is recorded as waiting on the coast to make Channel swim attempts in the 1929, 1930, 1932 and 1935 seasons. No attempts are recorded. However, one 1936 newspaper that says she did a F-E in 1929 and got within 4 miles of England and on a 1954 autograph she annotates that she swam for 28 hours on a Channel attempt in 1932

In June 1936 she gave up work to compete for swimming cash prizes in Canada, working her passage as a stewardess on the ‘Duchess of Bedford’ out of Liverpool. This was not successful and she returned to typing/secretarial work in London and gave up swimming. In 1939 she is listed as teleprinter operator and stenographer at the 15th Co. (County of London) Duke of Yorks HQ in Chelsea.

Miss Agnes Nicks is the die-hard of this somewhat disappointing Channel swimming season, and late as it is, she is still training for her attempt
The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 5/10/1929

Forbidden to Practise in the Thames. TOLD TO TAKE UP ANOTHER SPORT. Miss Agnes Nicks, the London girl secretary who hopes to break the women’s Channel swimming record in August, has been forbidden by the Port of London Authority to swim in the Thames except before 5 a.m. or after 8 p.m., and now she has nowhere to practice except such places as Ken Wood pond, which are useless because there is no tide. ” I am in a terrible fix and have not been able to do any swimming for five weeks now,” Miss Nicks told a reporter yesterday. ” It may spoil my chances of swimming the Channel. Next Sunday I wanted to swim from Gravesend, but now I mustn’t. Going to Brighton every week-end is an expensive business.” Long-distance swimming practice is impossible in baths and ponds, and one often gets covered in slime. I have to earn my living, and it is absolutely out of the question to do the swimming after eight o’clock at night, as I want to be in the water for hours. ‘ If I did that I should never be fit for my next day’s work.” Miss Nicks has received a letter from the Port of London Authority threatening proceedings if she breaks the by-laws by swimming between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. Miss Nicks said : ” An official on the telephone blandly advised me to ‘take up some other sport.”
May 15, 1930 The Guardian, London

LONDON GIRL TO TRY TO SWIM THE CHANNEL Miss Agnes Nicks, of Fairbridge-road, Upper Holloway, a typist, will attempt to swim the Channel from Dover if conditions are favourable next week-end. In July 1929, she swam from Teddington to Waterloo Bridge and back to Twickenham Ferry, a distance of 39 miles in 12 hr 53min 4sec and created a record. In the course of training she has travelled to Brighton every evening after business and swum in the sea
11 August 1930 – Daily Herald – London, London, England

The Dover Express of 15 August 1930 annouced her arrival in Dover for an attempt

LONDON TYPIST FORCED TO GlVE UP. Miss Agnes Nicks, 21-year-old London swimmer and telephonist, failed yesterday in her attempt to swim the boat race course from Putney to Mortlake, and set a cold water record.
18 March 1931 – Dundee Courier – Dundee, Angus, Scotland

Channel aspirants are ready in the camps along the seashore for the annual attack on the Channel… Miss Sunny Lowry, Miss Agnes Nicks, Lilian Copplestone, E. H. Temme, Charles Zibelman and George Brewster
Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette 01 August 1932

Miss E. Morrison, from Boston, USA, who proposes to attempt to swim the Channel, has visited the town this week. Two other asprants, Miss Agnes Nicks and Miss Eva Coleman, were in the water here
Dover Express 12 July 1935

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