John Arthur Jarvis (GBR)
Honor Swimmer (1968)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1900 gold (1000m, 4000m freestyle); 1906 silver (1 mile freestyle), bronze (400m freestyle; 4x250m freestyle relay); WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1907 gold (500m freestyle); His 108 swimming championships included: Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee 1-mile championship; German Kaiser’s Championship of Europe; Austrian Emperor’s World Championships at Vienna; the King of Italy’s World’s Distance Championship; the Queen of Holland’s World’s Championship at 4,000m; King Edward VII coronation Cup One Mile; English Mile Championship – six year in succession; English Long Distance Championship (7 miles) – eight years; Half Mile Championships – 4 times in succession; 500yd Championship – 4 times; 400yd salt water championship- twice; plunging championship of England, 1904; 2 gold cups for 15 mile swim through London; Grand Prix of Antwerp, 1000m; Cup de la Meuse, Belgium; holder of the Royal Humane Society’s Medal for Life Saving.
John Arthur Jarvis called himself “Amateur Swimming Champion of the World” and he had 108 swimming championships to prove it. In 1900 (Paris), he was the first Olympic triple gold medal winner as he touched first at 100 meters, 1000 meters and 4000 meters. He followed with a gold and a silver at the 1906 Athens Olympics. Jarvis swam the overarm sidestroke and all races were “freestyle.” Jarvis and Joey Nuttall, the English professional champion, developed a special kick to go with this stroke which became known as the Jarvis-Nuttall kick. Some of Jarvis’ records with this stroke lasted 28 years.
After the 1907 world championships at Charenton, a newspaper report states: “The event of the day was the exhibition made by Jarvis in the 500 meter championship. The Englishman at once took the lead and swam with a regularity so perfect as to seem absolutely mechanical. He covered the 500 meters in 7 min., 43-4/5 sec. and turning, watched as an interested spectator, the struggle for second place. Boin arrived 46 seconds later, and Gegoire was third in 8 minutes, 50-1/5 sec.”
Jarvis saved innumerable lives in his later career teaching lifesaving including one famed rescue in which he brought in twin sisters. He introduced lifesaving techniques to Italy on one of his many international trips with the English water polo team. His other achievements and awards included Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee one mile championship; German Kaiser’s Championship of Europe; Austrian Emperor’s World Championships at Vienna; the King of Italy’s World Distance Championship; the Queen of Holland’s World’s Championship at 4000 meters; King Edward VII Coronation Cup One Mile (presented by His Majesty); English Mile Championship–six years in succession; English Long Distance Championship (7 miles), eight years; Half Mile Championship, four times in succession; 500 yards championship, four times; 400 yards salt water championship, twice; plunging championship of England, in 1904; two gold cups for 15-mile swim through London, open to the world; Grand prix of Antwerp, 1000 meters; Cup de la Meuse, Belgium; holder of the Royal Humane society’s Medal for Saving Life.
At the period when English swimming was first and swimming was a most important wonder of sport, J. A. Jarvis was certainly the wonder of English swimming. He was later respectfully referred to as “Professor Jarvis” and 3 of his daughters, all swimming teachers, came to Fort Lauderdale to represent him at the induction ceremonies.