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New York Times : Origin of Crawl Stroke, 1912.

New York Times: Origin of Crawl Stroke.
December 6 1912, page 13.

Page 13
Australian Swimmers Gave First Idea and Americans Improved on it.

This month marks the ninth anniversary ot the origin ot the "American crawI," the swimming stroke that has placed American athletes at the top of the world in sprint swimming.

The year 1903 was a memorable one in aquatics at the New York Athletic Club.

C. M. Daniels had only just begun to attract attention, but the Mercury Foot squad included Fred Wenck, Charles Ruberl, Otto Wahle, L. de B. Handley, George Van Cleaf, Ted Kitching, and a few others, who not only could sweep clean the board ot championship events, but formed a coterie of watermen well versed In the science of natatlon and deeply engrossed in the study of its principles.
Indeed, the day's practice was never complete without a general discussion of the problem of advancing the art of swimming.

One afternoon in December, while the little group was holdIng Its usual symposium, Otto Wahle came upon the scene wIth a descrlptlon of the crawl, clipped from an Australian paper.

Cavill had just been doing sensational work with it, and little else was talked about among swlmmers. Unluckily the description was written by some one who did not know the subject and it was impossible to make head or tail of it.

Suddenly Ruberl, at that time all-around champion, had an inspiration.

"Why, the leg thrash that man talks about," he exclaimed, "would just fit a definition of Gus Sundstrom's swordfish stroke."

Sundstrom was then, and is still, the club's swimming instructor, and he can travel twenty-five yards without using his hands almost as fast as can a good swimmer with the crawl.
He holds his arms motionless above hIs head and beats up and down with his legs in rapid, narrow, alternative drives.
He learned the trick in the South Seas and has styled it the swordfish stroke.

Immediately upon Ruberl's exclamation everyone saw the similarity to CavIll's supposed kick. Sundstrom was asked to give an exhibition, and then and there most of the clubmen attempted to imitate him.

Some succeeded, and without hesitation took up the task of practicing the new movements; others were unable to master them, and gave it up.
The former combined the continuous thrash with the long straight-arm reach of the trudgeon, and in a couple of months had clipped several seconds from their fifty- yard performances.
Van Cleaf and Kitching in particular negotiated the half century around twenty seconds, better time than had yet been shown.

News of these achievements spread fast, and the OIympic games of 1904 in St. Louis gave swimmers of all sections an opportunity to see the Mercury Footers in action, and by Fall that year schools of crawlers had been formed wherever natation obtained.

Daniels, however, was not converted until a year later, when be went abroad to compete in the championship of England, and saw the stroke used by Australians.

It is worthy of note that, following his second meeting with Cecil Healy, the year after, in 1906, both he and the Sydney champion altered their style in some detail, to conform with the others, so that they now swim practically the same stroke.

Since the advent ot the crawl in 1903 it has been considerably improved, but the original leg drive copied from Sundstrom has suffered small change, and Australians, who at first lifted the leg high out of the water, have now adopted the Sundstrom movement.

Doubtless we owe to Cavill the idea; but for his success we would never have conceived it.

Still,when all is told, it was Americans who evolved and perfected the continuous and narrow leg trash.

New York Times: Origin of Crawl Stroke.
December 6 1912, page 13.

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Geoff Cater (2009-2016) : New York Times : Origin of Crawl Stroke, 1912.