Catch Me Helmy

Catch Me Helmy

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The August 1925 issue of Time Magazine tells of the 1925 meeting of two International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame inductees: Argentinian Lilian Harrison and Egyptian Ishak Helmy:

A young Harrison was garmented heavily in grease…and slipped into the sea from Cape Griz Nez [in France]. A hailstorm struck her an hour out, but she made extraordinary time. In a little over two hours, she made four miles. Four hours out, she (vegetarian) took a little food, appeared to get new vigor, increased her pace. Seven hours out, she was only eight miles from Dover.

No previous swimmer had ever made such fast time. Seven hours and five minutes out she called to an Egyptian, Ishak Helmy, who was “pacing” her.: “Catch me, Helmy.” He turned. She grasped him and fainted.

Aboard the tug she murmured, “I will never try it again.” It was her fourth failure.

At that time, the only individuals who had swum the English Channel were Captain Matthew Webb in 1875 in 21 hours 45 minutes, William Burgess in 1911 in 22 hours 35 minutes, Charles Toth in 1923 in 16 hours 40 minutes, Henry Sullivan in 1923 in 27 hours 25 minutes, and Enrique Tirabocchi in 1923 in 16 hours 33 minutes. Gertrude Ederle would become the first woman to complete the Channel a year later.

Photo by Bettmann/CORBIS shows Harrison, coming out of the Seine River after a 42 km (26-mile) marathon swim from Corbeil to Paris, France in 1925. She has previously won a similar 42 km (26-mile) race down the the River Plate from Uruguay to Argentina in 1923.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones