John “Jack” Hatfield (GBR)
Honor Pioneer Swimmer (1984)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1912 silver (400m, 1500m freestyle), bronze (freestyle relay); 1920, 1924 (swimmer), 1928 (swimmer, water polo player); AMATEUR SWIMMING ASSOCIATION Titles (40): 1912-1931 (220yd, 440yd, 500yd, 880yd, 1 mile, long distance); WORLD RECORDS: 4 (400m, 300yd, 500yd, 500m freestyle).
In 1893, John Gatenby “Jack” Hatfield was born prematurely in the seventh month while his parents were on a trip. The pattern held for the next 72 years. Jack was almost always early, quick or persistent. By early in 1912, he had yet to win a British National Championship but was chosen for the Stockholm Olympic Games team for experience, and because of his future promise. The future was now, as he won two silver medals behind the Canadian world record holder George Hodgson and a bronze returning home to win his first five of a career of 40 ASA Nationals in August, 1912. He went on to win all but one freestyle U.K. National event in 1913, losing the 100 by a judge’s decision. During this period he could actually break World Records as and when he pleased with the revolutionary new Trudgeon Crawl as opposed to the more jerky Trudgeon then in vogue. His dominance took him to Budapest in 1914 but WWI prevented his acceptance of an invitation to swim in Australia. All Championships were suspended for seven years and except for being brought back from France to win the Army-Navy Championship (1915), he did little swimming for four awful years in the trenches. Come 1920, and Hatfield seemed unable to regain his form, losing unspectacularly in the Nationals and then Olympics. Here his persistence took over and by 1921 he was back winning four Championships, Most Valuable Swimmer Award, and the team title for Middlesbrough.