Frederick “Freddie” Lane (AUS)
Honor Swimmer (1969)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1900 gold (220yd freestyle, obstacle race); First man to swim 1 minute for 100yd freestyle; WORLD RECORDS: 100yd, 220yd freestyle; Freddie used the trudgen stroke for both sprint and distance swims.
Australian F.C.V. “Freddie” Lane died May 29, 1969 — 69 years after winning the 200 meter freestyle in the 1900 II Modern Olympiad. Lane won both the open and the obstacle race 200 meters in the River Seine during the Paris Olympics.
Freddie Lane’s place in swimming history is by no means limited to his Olympic victories. He was the first man in the world to swim 1 minute for 100 yards freestyle (defeating Dick Cavill and Bob Darbyshire at Manchester, England in July 1902). In October of that year at Leicester (home of John Jarvis and Matthew Webb), Lane further astounded the swimming world by breaking a minute, 59 3/5 seconds.
In the pre-crawl era, Lane swam a double overarm similar to the trudgen, but with a narrower kick. It was considered a good sprint stroke but much too strenuous for distance until Lane won the New South Wales mile with both arms over the water for the entire distance. This was 1899 at Wagga Wagga in the Murumbridgee River, but Englishmen kept the swim records of that day and Lane’s incredible performances, like those of Barney Kierean, who followed him, were suspect unless swum in England or at least in Europe. Freddie Lane was shipped off to England to prove a point and almost immediately he set a world record of 2:34.8 for the furlough (220 yards).
After winning the Olympic 200 meter Lane’s swimming was described in the newspapers with alarm as follows: “Even the best swimmers of the trudgen rarely use it for a race of more than 100 yards. In fact, the only man who depends upon it for a distance race is Fred Lane. NEVER use the trudgen stroke except for short distances.”
The “rugged” Freddie Lane, all 9 1/2 stone of him (he weighed 133 lbs. at the peak of his career), died of natural causes at 92, surviving all the trudgen sprinters and all the non-prostrate single over arm (sidestroke) distance swimmers of his time.