Harold Fern (GBR)
Honor Contributor (1974)
FOR THE RECORD: Amateur Swimming Association Honorary Secretary for 49 years, 1921-1970; FINA Bureau member, 1928-1960; FINA President, 1934-1948; FINA Honorary Treasurer, 1948-1960; European Swimming League (LEN) President, 1935-1939; LEN Honorary Treasurer, 1948-1956; LEN Life Honorary President until his death in 1974; British Olympic Association Treasurer, 1913-1927.
If a swimmer wants to write or call on the Amateur Swimming Association, the world’s oldest continuing governing body of swimming, the address is Harold Fern House, Derby Square Loughborough, Leicestershire, England.
In an age and in a sport in which youth is seen as all-important and all-conquering, and records seldom last out a year, it is right to remember the continuity to our sport provided by this man and a few others responsible in their lifetimes for the remarkable world growth of swimming. So it is right that one of those honored by the Hall of Fame in 1974 should be Alderman Harold Fern, a gentleman of small physical stature but a giant in achievement, whose 70-year contribution to the administration of the sport had made it what it is today.
His unbroken service to swimming extended from the time in 1905 when he became Honorary Secretary of the Southern District of the Amateur Swimming Association of England. From this small beginning Harold Fern rose to become a Life Hon. President of FINA, the world governing body of swimming, and was twice honored royally for his untiring work by King George VI, and more recently on his retirement by Queen Elizabeth II.
In the years between, this quiet-voiced chartered secretary served in a multiplicity of capacities. He was an elected member of the FINA Bureau from 1928 to 1960, acting President, and later President from 1934 to 1958 and Hon. Treasurer from 1948 to 1960.
He was an early member of the Bureau of the European Swimming League (L.E.N.), its President from 1935-1939, Hon. Treasurer from 1948-1956 and a Life. Hon. President until his death August 21, 1974, just a few months after he had received the news of his latest honor from the Hall of Fame.
Harold Fern, an immaculate administrator, synchronized the A.S.A., of which he was Hon. Secretary for 49 years (1921-1970) and whose centenary founding he proudly celebrated in 1969. He worked on the Councils and Committees of the British Olympic Association from 1913, utilizing his flair for finance on their behalf for 14 years as Treasurer.
In his early days, Mr. Fern – who was born on April 20, 1881 – was a runner, oarsman and player of Association Football (Soccer) as well as a swimmer. His knowledge of the different opinions existing between the various sports and his razor-keen business brain made him a wise counselor and an awkward opponent to meet across the debating table.
In a page-long summary of his achievements, Harold Fern, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, listed his records held as “none”. In fact, his life in swimming was a record in itself. He was “Mr. Swimming” in England, in Great Britain, and in the world for as long as anyone over 90 can remember.