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How to Learn to Swim

From Openwaterpedia
Frederick Cavill, patriarch of the Cavill Family that was inducted collectively in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and was author of the 1884 pamphlet called How to Learn to Swim

How to Learn to Swim was a 24-page pamphlet published in 1884 and authored by Frederick Cavill (1839 - February 1927), nicknamed the 'professor of swimming'. The book outlined his theories on notations.

Frederick Cavill's Swimming Career[edit]

  • In July 1876 Frederick Cavill swam over 20 miles from London Bridge to Greenhithe, the longest distance to that time on the Thames.
  • In August 1876, he swam from Southampton to Southsea Pier and from Dover to Ramsgate, before attempting to swim the English Channel. He was pulled 3 miles from his destination.
  • In 1877, he was dragged from the water within 220 yards of the English coast.
  • He swam from Parramatta to Sydney.
  • He swam 18 miles from Glenelg (South Australia) to the Semaphore.

Cavill Family[edit]

  • The eldest Ernest Cavill (1868-1935) was the 1000 yards champion of New South Wales at 15 and was placed in championship races in London.
  • Charles Cavill (1870-1897) was the first man to swim the Golden Gate in San Francisco in 1896, but was drowned next year at Stockton Baths, California.
  • Percy Cavill (1875-1940) was the first Australian to win a race abroad when in 1897 he won both the 440 yards and the long distance (5 miles) events in the English Amateur Swimming Association Championships. He also won four State and four Australian championships in 1895-98, but left for the United States in 1900 and coached swimmers for fifteen years, before disappearing, and living as a beachcomber in the Bahamas.
  • Arthur Cavill (1877-1914), known as 'Tums', won the New South Wales 500 and 1000 yards amateur championships. At 21 he was 220 yards professional champion of Australia; W. F. Corbett credited him with originating the crawl stroke. In 1901 he went to the United States: he successfully swam the Golden Gate but was frozen to death in 1914 trying to swim Seattle Harbour.
  • Sydney Cavill (1881-1945) was 220 yards amateur champion of Australia at 16 and was the originator of the butterfly stroke. He followed his brothers to America where he coached notable swimmers, mainly at San Francisco's Olympic Club.
  • Cavill's three daughters were also outstanding swimmers.
  • The youngest son Richmond Theophilus (1884-1938) was born on 16 January 1884 in Sydney. He was the first to use the crawl stroke in a competition when in 1899 he won the 100 yards State championship. In 1900-04 he won 18 Australian and 22 New South Wales championships. In England in 1902 he was the first officially to swim 100 yards in under a minute, clocking 58.6 seconds. After living in New Zealand and the United States, Dick returned to Australia in 1913 and for a time played 'Father Neptune' in Wirth's circus. He died of a heart attack at the pool he leased at Balmoral, Sydney, on 2 May 1938.


Frederick Cavill received 3 awards, for saving life, from the Royal Humane Society, London, between 1860 and 1870, and two from the Royal Humane Society of Australasia, which also made an award to Percy Cavill, Charles Cavill, Arthur Cavill, and Sydney Cavill received medals from the National Shipwreck Relief Society of New South Wales — a total of 9 awards for bravery before 1900.

Cavill Family[edit]

The Cavill Family from Australia was collectively inducted as Honour Swimmers in 1967 in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

External links[edit]