pods for primates : a catatogue of surfboards in australia since 1900
home catalogue history references appendix

jarvis : swimming, 1902 
J.A. Jarvis  : The Art of Swimming, 1902.

Extracts from
Jarvis, J. A.: The Art of Swimming
Edited by W.H. Clarke
Hutchinson and Co.
Paternoster Row, London, 1902.

Jarvis records the Trudgen stroke as developing from native swimmers and the text and illustrations show that the stroke is a crude version of what would become known as freestyle.
The implication is that the speed of the stroke has been recognised world wide and many swimmers, for example in Australia, have adopted and are developing the stroke for competition.
Importantly, the early analysis of the native stroke concentrated on the arm action and largely ignored the importance of the kick.

In Australia, after studying a female swimmer in Samoa, Sid Cavill advanced the trudgen technique by lifting the arms higher out of the water.

- Referee, 24 August 1898, page 6.

Initally, the arm action was seen as the critical source of propulsion and Tums Cavill demonstrated this by competing with his legs tied together.

- Bulletin, 17 December 1898, page 24.

Subsequently, Tums Cavill turned his attention to the kick in training his younger brother, Dick, who successfully used the combined propulsion sources  in competition.

- ĎAthletic Notesí, 9 January 1900 from unidentified newspaper, E. S. Marks Collection scrapbook,
Q74, Mitchell Library, SLNSW, 48.

The style became known as the Australian Crawl, circa 1901.

- Arrow, 2 March 1901, page 4.

The importance of a sissors kick, vigorously breaking the water surface, would be emphatically demonstrated by  Polynesian surfrider and (untrained) swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku, at the 1912 Olympic Games.

Page 33
The Trudgen Stroke.
To my mind the stroke of the future for racing purposes is the Trudgen stroke, which although a recent introduction to England, has been in vogue for centuries aongst Indians, the natives of South America, on the West Coast of Africa, and in many other places where the aborigines are almost natural swimmers.
The stroke was practically first into England by J. Trudgeon, who had seen it performed, and practised it himself, in the rivers of South America.
On August 11th, 1873, he won a 160 yards handicap, and Mr. R. Watson, in his "Swimming Record," refers to the race as follows:-
"A suprising swimmer carried off the handicap - we allude to Trudgen; this individual swam with both hands entirely out of the water, an action peculiar to Indians.
His time was very fast, particularly for one who appears to know but little of swimming, and should he become more finished in style, we shall expect him to take a position second to none as a swimmer.
I question, indeed, if the swimming world ever saw a more peculiar stroke sustained throughout a 160 yards race.
I have seen many fast exponents retain the action for some distance, but the great exertion compels them to desist, very much fatigued.
In Truden, however, a totally opposite state of things existed for here we had a man swimming apparently easy, turning very badly, and, when finished, appearing as though he could have gone another 80 yards at the same pace.

Page 34

His action reminds an observer of a style parculiar to the Indians; both arms are thrown partly sideways, but very slovenly, and the head held completely above water."
That was the opinion of an expert of the time, and in one respect he was right, for Trudgen won many races after that, and the peculiar metod of swimming was named after him.

During the next few years the stroke was practised by many swimmers with varying degress of success, but it was not until the last three or four years that it came into such general use, and of late vast improvements have been made in the stroke.
In the "Badminton Book of Swimming" the writers state:-
"It is a very fatiguing method of progression, and rarely used for distances over 200 yards."
At that period - 1894 - such a statement would be perfectly correct, and it was not anticipated that it would be used for anything approaching long distances.
But all that is altered now, for the stroke is in common use, and the favoured one with many of the best swimmers of the present day, irrespective of the distance that has to be covered.
In 1899 Phil Lister swam the whole long distance course with the trudgen stroke, and was eighth, his time being 1hr. 16min. 40secs., as compared with 1hr. 45secs. by the winner.
This goes to prove that the stroke can be kept up.
Then again, all the Australian swimmers use the same stroke.
With regard to the merits and demerits of the stroke, it all amounts to a question of this mode of swimming can keep up their pace in the same ratio that an over-arm swimmer does.
If that can be done, and I think it will, then the over-arm swimmer will have to take a secondary position in the championships of the future, becausew there ius no doubt which is the faster of the two.
That day ...

Page 35

... will not come at present, unless an extrodinary swimmer is unearthed, but if the improvements made in the stroke of late years are continued in the years to come, then I am firmly convinced that the present records at all distances will be wiped out, and fresh ones put in their place by "trudgers."
Admittedly the stroke is a more fatiguing one than the over-arm, but with plently of practice this will be lessened by a man in the "pink of condition," and when the stroke is more throughly learned and improved upon.
The person who beats the present records will have to be a first-class swimmer, but for all that I am certain that the trudgen stroke is the speediest of the two if it can be maintained.

The stroke is really a kind of double over-arm one, and the best trudgen swimmers use a similar, though shorter, leg kick, to that made when swimming over-arm.
Starting with the left arm straight in the water and the right arm thrown back, as in Figure 10, the arms are brought round in a circular movement, as shown in Figue 11, care being taken that the palms of the hands are, as far as possible, turned way from the body.
A good idea of the complete stroke, with regard to the arms, is offered by thye dooted lines in Figure 12.
The leg stroke should be short and sharp, and the top of the leg kicked well forward.
At all times the legs should be kept as close to the top of the water as possible without breaking through.
In practising the trudgen stroke a swimmer should always keep well out of the water, and the less a man rolls in using this method the better it will be for him both as regards keeping his wind and speed.

Trudgen Stroke.
Figure 10. See page 35.
Facing page 81.

Trudgen Stroke.
Figure 11. See page 35.
Facing page 96.

Trudgen Stroke.
Figure 12. See page 35.
Facing page 97.

Jarvis, J. A.: 
The Art of Swimming.
With Notes on Water Polo and Aids to Life Saving.
The World's Amateur Champion.
Edited by W.H. Clarke
Hutchinson and Co.
Paternoster Row, London, 1902.

Return to Surfer Bio menu
home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2008) : J.A. Jarvis : Art of Swimming, 1902.