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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > July 19 > Famous Fraud

Famous Fraud

A fraudulent English Channel swim paved the way for governing organisations in marathon swimming. Elaine K Howley

In the long arc of sports history, scandals have been fairly common place. Doping and the use of performance enhancing drugs are a frequent vehicle for cheating in sports – remember the East German Women’s Olympic swim team in the 1960s and ‘70s and Lance Armstrong’s seven fraudulent Tour de France wins? Cutting the course is another – just ask Rosie Ruiz who infamously burst through the crowd of spectators at the tail end of the 1980 Boston Marathon where she was declared the female winner despite having run less than a mile. (She’d qualified to be there by taking the subway most of the way between the start and finish of the New York City Marathon.)

Marathon swimming has also had its share of less-than-honest moments. Because the bulk of marathon swimming events occur well beyond the view of spectators – and as any marathon swimmer will tell you a crowd almost never materialises anymore – it wouldn’t be all that difficult to create the impression of completing a swim when perhaps the opposite is true.

LOGAN’S HOAX

In 1927, successfully swimming the English Channel was still a rarity. Though the preceding summer of 1926 had produced a staggering five successful swims – nearly half the sum total of all Channel swims to date, and two by American women, the first of their sex to achieve the feat – the list was still quite limited. When Mercedes Gleitze, a London-based secretary stepped into the water on 7 October 1927, only 11 swimmers had previously gotten to the other side of the storied waterway, but Gleitze was determined to be the first British woman to do so.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

Journeys can take many forms. This issue adventurer Alastair Humphreys tells how his account of busking across Spain became a personal memoir of a life lived adventurously; 'Urban Mermaid' Lindsey Cole recounts her tale of dipping to Scotland, meeting swimmers via social media as she cycled the length of the country; and travel writer Patrick Scott tells of a sacred swim in the river Ganges. If you have long distance challenges planned this summer our regular Olympian contributor, Cassie Patten, gives you top tips on how to recover from a 10km swim. Guest coach Keri-anne Payne continues her series on correct technique, this month looking at body position and rotation. And we have outdoor training session ideas to help you swim in a pack and advice to help you overcome any fears you have of the open water. As always we have the most comprehensive UK and international event listings to help you plan your summer swims.