Warren County Historical Society Presents …

“REWIND”

April 1, 2014

Looking Back – August 2012- Swim Marathon 1927

 

This postcard is titled “Marathon Contestants Enter the Water at Hague, NY, July 12, 1927”. What a day it

must have been on Hague’s shores! There were nearly 100 swimmers who actually did start that day and

what a boon it was for Lake George publicity. Newspapers across the country carried the story.

 

Swimmers at the Hague Beach. July 1927.

Swimmers at the Hague Beach. July 1927.

One of the coups for the organizers was getting heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey to come to the event and play the role of “starter”. Apparently he was training in Saratoga for an upcoming bout with GeneTunney. The story goes that when he arrived by boat at the Trout House, he and his entourage stepped onto the dock and were rushed by the crowd eager to see him. Down went the dock! While there were no injuries, Jack and others did get wet in three feet of water. Though his feet may have been wet, he still looked pretty dapper in his jaunty cap in this press photo taken that day.

Jack Dempsey at Hague July 1927.

Jack Dempsey at Hague July 1927.

Each swimmer immersed in the waters of Lake George was to be accompanied by a boat for safety purposes. Art Knight, former Lake George Mirror editor, was one of those assigned the task of removing anyone unaccompanied by a watercraft. He recently wrote an account that included this experience: “In spite of our vigilance at the starting line, some swimmers did start without boats to accompany them, the first being a young fellow dressed in a loin cloth of plenty of grease. Leavitt and I were all dressed up with white flannel trousers, blue coats, and yachting caps, and we had a beautiful white boat with mahogany trim. When we pulled this fellow over the side, much of the grease got transferred to us, while much more of it covered the boat. We proceeded immediately to the hospital boat, the steam yacht “Sayonara,” but the doctors and nurses refused to take him when they learned that he was in no need of medical attention. We started back for the Hague dock, in spite of our passenger’s protests that we had to take him to Lake George Village, as he had sent all his clothes down there. We unloaded him on the dock, and never did hear how he made out.”

As the day wore on, swimmers were pulled from the water when they realized they could go no further. Near the end, there were but two swimmers remaining; Edward Keating of New York City and Meyer Mendelsohn of Montreal. When Mendelsohn gave up two miles from the end, Keating became the winner of the $5000 purse. The balance of the $10,000 prize money was distributed among those who had made a good showing.

The real winner was Lake George for the bounty of good publicity the Lake received across the U.S. and in foreign countries as well.

The above story,  Courtesy the Hague Historical Society.

References below added by page editor, for further information.

The next excerpt is from and more info at:

http://www.lakegeorgeswim.com/history/

“”The year was 1927. Prohibition was in full swing. The Sacco-Vanzetti case was being tried in Boston. Calvin Coolidge was president and the Lake George Swimming Marathon was making headlines. The Lake George Swimming Marathon? Never heard of it? Well, you’re in good company. Most people are not aware of this historic event — which is pretty amazing when one considers that it drew 146 competitors from six countries and nearly every state in the U.S. that several of these swimmers were world record holders and that heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey traveled to Hague to fire the starting pistol.””

The next excerpt is from and more info at:

http://www.lakegeorgemirrormagazine.com/2011/02/01/lake-george-swim-marathon-of-1927-longtime-mirror-editor-recalls-the-event/

“”Over 140 swimmers entered the July 12 event, many of them just to get their names in the papers. Nearly 100 did start from Hague in what had been advertised as “The Longest Frsh Water Swim Ever Held for the Championship of the World!” First prize was $5,000 in cash; second $1,500; third $1,000; fourth $750; fifth $250; and $1,500 to the first woman to finish, in case a man won. “”

 

© April 1  2014, Warren County Historical Society

 

 

 

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