When The Boy Couldn’t Compete Against Men
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
It could have been and would have been a great race among the best British swimmers at the 1908 London Olympic Games in the distance events, but the match race of the new century was not to be.
On July 25th, British swimmer Henry Taylor [shown below] set a world record in the 1500m freestyle after swimming 15 lengths of the 100 meter Olympic pool that was set inside of London’s White City Stadium. Taylor came from behind, only forging ahead on the 14th lap to overtake his British teammate Thomas Battersby.
Taylor stopped at the finish capturing one of his 8 career Olympic gold medals over 4 Olympiads, but silver medalist Battersby had a plan – and he continued on to swim on an extra 109 meters. He officially completed a mile swim, finishing in 24:33.0, beating the existing mile record of 24:42.6 set by David Billington in 1905.
Billington [shown on top], whose nickname was Boy, was unable to compete in the 1908 London Olympics because he had inadvertently competed against professional swimmers and had to forfeit his amateur status, thereby missing the Olympics in his native country.
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