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Fact of the Day

May 26, 1999

At the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games, the Canadian swim team consisted of exactly one swimmer. His name was George Ritchie Hodgson.

The swimming events were held in a 100 metres sea-water course erected in Stockholm harbour. To everyone's surprise, the handsome 18-year-old stripling won two Gold medals, the 400 (5:24.4) as well as the 1500 (22:00.0), and set four world records (heats and finals) as well as two Olympic records.

In the 1500 event, in which Hodgson beat Jack Hatfield (Great Britain) and Harold Hardwick (Australasia) by 39 seconds and 1 min. 15 2/5 secs. respectively, the Canadian continued swimming to complete the one mile in record time. Hodgson's 400 metres world record, set at the Games, was to stand another 12 years until finally toppled by the great Johnny Weissmuller at the Paris Olympics.

Hodgson's career was interrupted by World War I in which he served as a fighter pilot winning the King's Medal and the Air Force Cross. After the war, he returned to competitive swimming to make the Canadian team for the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, but at the age of 26, he was well past his prime.

(Acknowledgements are made with thanks to Dr Jack Kelso's unpublished treatise, "A History of Aquatic Sports in Canada , 1850 - 1994", for some of the details used herein.)