English Channel swimmers

The August 18 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of three people who were hoping to swim the English Channel.


The Channel Swimming Dover website maintains a record of people who attempted to swim the channel. From this site, I learned:

  • Hilda Harding attempted to swim the channel later in the month, on August 30, but was pulled out of the water after lapsing into unconsciousness at the 6 hour, 5 minute mark. She swam a little over 10 1/2 miles. A Google search turned up this photo series of her in her flooded town in December 1929 and this picture of her in May 1927.
  • Ivy Hawke (not Hawkes) fared better: though she had previously failed on September 9, 1922, and failed again on August 30 of this month after seven hours of swimming, she succeeded on August 19, 1928. British Pathé has footage of her success, and I also found this photo of her on this third attempt.
  • Ishak Helmi was fortunate enough to be independently wealthy, which meant that he could spend all of his time training and hanging out with other swimmers. (In 1925, he apparently rented one of the two hotels in Cap Griz Nez, the Channel swim start location, for the entire summer.) He tried to swim the Channel a total of seven times between 1924 and 1929, including two attempts in 1926; he succeeded in 1928. His successful swim time was the slowest until 1949, but it’s impressive to have succeeded at all.

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