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Roger Le Morvan

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Roger Le Morvan, a Breton, was the French pool and open water swimming champion at the age of 20 in 1942.

Pool Swimming Career[edit]

He won the 400m and 1500m freestyle in 1943, 1944 and 1945. He missed out on the 1948 London Olympics.

Open Water Swimming Career[edit]

In 1949, the London Daily Mail published an advert looking for swimmers to take part in an English Channel race in August 1950. Le Morvan, a large man – well suited to the cold, was interested. He also played water polo and feared that taking part in the race across the Channel would turn him into a professional. The prize money was huge: £1,000 (Sterling) for the winner and £200 for all the finishers – he committed.

His routine, in the spring and summer of 1950, included swimming between 10 and 15 km every day, with other experienced swimmers for support. In late August 1950, he played one last water polo match (as an amateur) in Paris and took a ferry to Folkestone, England now sponsored by the drinks company, Cinzano.

1950 Daily Mail Race[edit]

The first Daily Mail race, was held in 1950 and was limited to 20 participants from around the world, sponsored by the London Daily Mail. Hassan Abdel Rehim, a 41-year-old Egyptian won the first race in a then-record of 10 hours and 50 minutes over an international field. The results were as follows:

1. Hassan Abdel Rehim (Egypt) - 10:50
2. Roger Le Morvan (France) 11:02
3. Mareeh Hassan Hamad (Egypt) 12:10
4. Sam Rockett (Great Britain) 14:17
5. William Barnie (Scotland) 14:50
6. Eileen Fenton (Great Britain) 15:31 - First woman
7. Jason Zirganos (Greece) 16:19
8. Antonio Abertondo (Argentina) 15:25
9. Jenny Kammersgaard (Denmark) 16:30

DNF: Emile Soron (France), Eduard Mussche (Belgium), David Frank (USA), Willy van Rijsel (Holland), G.B. Brewster (Great Britain), Panagiotis Kamberous (Greece), Elna Andersen (Denmark), Margareth Ann Feather, Fahmmy Attallah (Egypt).

Out of 27 entrants, there were 3 French swimmers: Le Morvan and 2 swimmers from Northern France: Emile Soron and Germain Pique. The latter two did not finish. Other swimmers came from Greece, Peru, Guatemala, England, Scotland, Turkey, Argentina, and Egypt. The swimmers were ferried from England to France during the night and started at Cap Gris-Nez near Wissant, at 2 am on 28 August 1950. Each swimmer had a support boat. Le Morvan's coach, M. Motto crewed for him but was inexperienced in the Channel. Le Morvan was advised to avoid food and only drink a mixture of water and sugar (dextrose). Le Morvan swam well and was ahead of the other competitors when hunger began to be a problem and he started to feel tired. The Egyptians were well-funded and coached and Hassan Abdel Rehim beat Le Morvan in the last stretch by 12 minutes.

1951 Race[edit]

In the 1951 Daily Mail race, 34-year-old Egyptian Mareeh Hassan Hamad, won in 12 hours 12 minutes by 1 minute over Le Morvan in another close race. Le Morvan was the favorite from the start. On board he had food: rice, chicken, ham, as well as tea, coffee and broth. Le Morvan reported some controversy about the actual winner (Mareeh Hassan Hamad by 61 seconds over Roger) and he was offered £500. In end Le Morvan accepted a car (a Renault 4-CV) which at the time seemed a better reward to him.

1. Mareeh Hassan Hamad (Egypt) 12:12
2. Roger Le Morvan (France) 12:13
3. Hassan Abdel Rehim (Egypt) - 12:25
4. Saied El Arabi (Egypt) 12:42
5. Brenda Fisher (England) 12:42 - First woman
6. Godfrey Chapman (England) 12:56
7. Winnie Roach (Canada) 13:25
8. Enriqueta Duarte (Argentina) 13:26
9. Lars Beril Warle (Sweden) 13:28
10. Raphael Morand (France) 13:45
11. Jenny James (Wales) 13:55
12. Jason Zirganos (Greece) 14:01
13. Jan Van Hemsbergen (Netherlands) 14:03
14. Sally Bauer (Sweden) 14:04
15. Antonio Abertondo (Argentina) 14:14
16. William E. (Ned) Barnie (Scotland) 15:01
17. Jenny Kammersgaard (Denmark) 15:38
18. Daniel Carpio (Peru) 23:05

External links[edit]