George Brutton, a club regular from the 80s and 90s, was on hand to present race prizes for the cup with two names. Rob Ouldcott had been whisked away for a weekend break by wife Sarah. Brian Thomas deputised, and promptly had to anounce himself as winner of an amazing piece of silverware.
Plus massive congratulations were forthcoming all round for our latest conqueror of the English Channel, Laure Latham.
A cup from 1935, with a second title from 1991
Two sides to one pot
George Brutton joined the club in 1982. He lived fairly close to the Serpentine in West Kensington and was able to swim most mornings before work, as well as racing on a Saturday. A solid breast-stroker who always gave of his best in every race and who never once complained about his handicap. George won the 1986 Peter Pan cup (his "never complain" attitude obviously worked wonders! A lesson to us all).
George commenced sponsorship of a late-summer 440 yard race in 1991.
The then club Secretary Alan Titmuss used a cup that had come back into our possession which had been presented by Louis Fabre in 1935 for a series of four midweek races competed for between June and October. Louis is remebered by those of us who have been around long enough as a great multi discipline athlete with a competitive streak and a will to break records.
Alan Titmuss's (not very) private joke saw the reintroduced cup engraved "Uncle George", a reference to George's role in playing the parent to the three children of his then partner (ultimately wife) Annette. We thus swam on Saturday for a cup engraved Louis Fabre on one side, and Uncle George on the other.
Both Louis and George were Peter Pan cup winners
Louis Fabre, Christmas Day 1934
Louis's Christmas swim, in his own words
George Brutton won his Peter Pan cup fifty two years later
George's Christmas win, in the words of the press
Some of the longer term members will recognise many of the references in this article - George Boyd the wheelchair handicapper; Mario McClarnon the kilted, busking piper; the crazy duck that "owned" the changing room; and many more.
New kid on the block, Kiwi the three month old "Jack Russell-something-or-other" from Battersea, made his debut as honorary judge
Tales of Louis and George
Whilst George watched on, Brian announced the winner .....
George provided the following anecdote a couple of years ago -
“Annette, the whole family and I have such special memories of you and all our SSC friends. When we were married in 1989 the Club presented us with a beautifully engraved, very handsome Dartington glass decanter. I recall that Alan Titmuss took charge of the proceedings and true to form, he insisted on hamming it up. So the box he initially handed me was full of broken glass which he made me drop onto the ground- with the desired gasps from the suitably appalled club members!”
Second place for Elly Jones
Alan Luckhurst came third. He did not stay still long enough for the camera, so here is fourth placed James Norton
Fifth place and a hug for Judith Charman
Brian recalled memories of Louis Farbe, and how when they raced together they were the club's "oldest and youngest"
Louis, "full of Gaelic charm"
Writing in the mid 2000s, Alan Titmuss captured memories of Farbe - "Louis, a likeable Frenchman, full of Gaelic charm and a Maurice Chevalier accent, was born in the South of France. His love of horses brought him to England at the time of the First World War, with the idea of signing up. It is not clear what happened but he never made it back to France. Right up to his death at the ripe old age of 88 years you would have thought he had just got off the boat at Dover, his accent was so strong. But it paid off with the ladies, especially at his wife's hairdressing salon in Paddington.
"Always fond of the open-air life, at seventy-six he could still be seen, early in the morning, exercising racehorses on Epsom Downs."
In 1949 at the age of 61, Louis became a world record holder over a multi disciplinary 10 mile endurance event
Inspired by a 1919 eight mile endurance record, Louis set a 10 mile record thirty years later
When pulling together the club history, Alan Titmuss reported the following achievement by Louis:
In 1919 the British Olympic swimming coach, a Mr Brickett, claimed a world record endurance event over eight miles - 1 mile walking, 4 miles cycling, 1 mile running over hurdles, 1 mile rowing and 1 mile swimming all in 55mins. 34.5secs.
Some thirty years later our own Louis Fabre tried to better the record and covered an extra two miles. Apart from his acknowledged prowess as a swimmer, Louis was an outstanding all-round athlete of some ability, so no one was surprised when he undertook at the age of sixty-one a 10 mile endurance test, set on beating Brickett's record. The organisation of such an attempt was a considerable problem and had to be postponed on more than one occasion. Difficulty finding a suitable track, the police refusing to allow hurdles on the public highway, and getting little support nearly caused Louis to give up the idea. Finally a suitable track in Paddington was found, having four circuits to the mile. The attempt was made on the 8th September 1949, in the presence of a leading ' specialist in each sport, two official timekeepers and the press who followed the entire event. The performance consisted of one mile running in 7 mins. 29 seconds, one mile walking in 11 mins. 13 seconds, one mile over 32 hurdles in 7mins 30 seconds, and five miles cycling in 15 mins 20 sees. Changing to his road machine and cycled the four miles from Paddington Recreation ground to Hammersmith, where at Lyons Boat House a sculling boat was waiting; a quick change and off he went for a one-mile scull from the 'Bemax Works' to Crabtree in 6 mins 25 seconds. He then dived into the Thames and swam the mile to Putney Pier in 15 mins 53 seconds, finishing his 10 mile non-stop performance. He accomplished his feat in the astonishing time of 63 minutes 50 seconds. A remarkable achievement, and rightly claimed by Louis as a world record.
The World Record
One mile swim, the final leg in the River Thames
TV interview with the "mega star" of the 1960s, Simon Dee
In 1968 Louis was interviewed on the BBC's Saturday evening flagship programme - "Dee-time"
In the late 1960s Louis undertook a repeat of the endurance event, this time including an equestrian leg. There is not much detail on the precise distances and times, but Louis did pop up on the BBC's Saturday evening prime time TV show "Dee-time". Interviewed by then mega-star Simon Dee, club members were proud to see and hear Louis talking about his achievements.
Simon Dee was a regular summer swimmer at the Serpentine Lido during public hours. Though not an early morning swimmer or club member, it was through the Serpentine that Louis came to the attention of Simon Dee and appeared on what was at the time the most-watched show on the small screen.
Sadly, it is doubted whether any recording of the TV interview survives.
From social swimmer to elite athlete
The morning also offered us the opportunity to congratulate our Hon. Secretary, Laure Latham, on her successful solo Channel crossing
19 hours and 16 minutes of hard graft and determination. A result of two years + of hard graft and determination as Laure metamorphosed from "social swimmer" to "elite athlete".
"Super crew" Sanderson amongst the first to sign
Massive congratulations also went to Stuart Bowman on his valiant attempt at a two way crossing two weeks ago.
Louis Fabre, 1888 - 1976
(report compiled by Brian Thomas)