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Lost Olympics Paperback – 7 Mar 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: emp3books (7 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907140719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907140716
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brooklander on 7 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From her first tentative schoolgirl dabblings in the often cloudy waters of Garston Baths down in the southern end of Liverpool, wearing a ghastly home-knitted swimsuit, to her glory days in the exclusive and rarefied world of Cunard's finest cruise ships, Hilda James emerges as a feisty and determined woman, ready to take hold of life with both hands and make the best of things. Her emerging swimming career was steadily guided by a supportive swimming club and a kindly, firm, old -fashioned coach who took her under his wing. These efforts were often thwarted by a harsh and less understanding regime at home. It's hard for us to imagine in these more enlightened times the importance placed on chaperonage and the power and physical harm of a thrashing with by a father with his leather belt, so prevalent in Hilda's youth. Yet she overcame these problems and rose to be a star of ladies' swimming. The polluted canal basin used for the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, choppy Atlantic waters at Brighton Beach in the USA, the murky tides of the Thames and the Seine, nothing put her off! She brought the new-fangled American Crawl stroke over to England after seeing for herself the speedy advantage it had given the US team in Belgium. This was to revolutionise free-style swimming. With her mastery of the style, she broke and held many records, and earned herself the nickname "The English Comet".
In this well- written biography, Ian McAllister really conveys the excitement, glamour and changes in his grandmother's life, when after the age of 21, she gained the freedom to follow an independent career, free from parental constraints. With the confidence of the big names in the Cunard Shipping line behind her, she was encouraged to pioneer the field of on-board activity and entertainment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Auldwyn on 15 April 2013
Format: Paperback
I'm not usually much of a reader but I finished this book in record time as I just couldn't put it down.

It's a delightful story of a woman with plenty of spirit and individuality at a time when such attributes were often frowned upon in a woman. Despite her working class roots, Hilda James manages to connect easily with just about everyone she meets as one of the original sports celebrities. It's hard not to speculate what else she might have achieved if not for her domineering mother, but then again, maybe that was partly what spurred her on.

It's well written and easy to read and I can think of several friends and family members who will enjoy receiving it in their Christmas stockings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Coles on 9 May 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a book giving detail of how Hilda James learnt to swim in Garston Baths and how she thought she was not going to enjoy plunging into water but when she did how it changed the course of her life. It tells of her swimming career very much guided by her swimming coach and how the club members who became her friends supported her through hard times.

Her family, especially her mother was guided by their religious beliefs which led to some horrid times in her swimming career. They were however, grateful for the job opportunities that came their way through her swimming giving them a good quality of life which they took for granted.

It is hard for us to believe that amateurism was so strict that you had to be aware of what you were taking on in case you lost your amateur status.

The adoption of the American crawl enabled her to break world records and become famous for her talent.

Ian McAllister has taken the notes of his grandmother's life along with his own research and created a well documented account of her life in swimming and how it lead her to a career with the Cunard Shipping Line. Hilda was a swimmer and teacher that lead her to make the learning and teaching of swimming a pleasure.

The book is well worth a read and it is obvious that she would have gone on to greater fame in the sport of Swimming is she had attended the Olympics Games of 1924.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Warwick on 6 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
I first became aware of Hilda James while researching the history of the Cunard liner Carinthia and was immediately captivated by her story. As someone who had no prior knowledge of UK swimming history I found it surprisingly engaging. There are many fascinating anecdotes such as Hilda's time spent with Johnny Weissmuller and her swimming tour of South Africa. What was also particularly interesting to me was the link with the Cunard Line through Hilda's husband Hugh McAllister who is the author's grandfather. This introduced some aspects of early 20th century Cunard history that I wasn't previously that familiar with such as the early Would Cruises and developments in wireless technology at sea.

Lost Olympics fully documents all the impressive national and international swimming records held by Hilda and has numerous black and white photographs from the author's family collection.

I really enjoyed reading this book and learning about this unique aspect of UK sporting and maritime history. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Manchester Travel Addict on 3 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
When you're about to embark on a really long flight it pays to have saved a book which promises an enthralling read. 'Lost Olympics' fits the bill perfectly. I expected to read a biography focused solely on swimming, but this book delivers so much more than that. It provides an insight into working class family life in an era of shifting moral values, a time when only the bravest of young ladies dared to emerge from the shadows to grace the stage they truly deserved. The gripping swimming accounts do not disappoint, but as an avid cruiser myself I was intrigued to learn that Hilda was in reality the first "Cruise Director" ... she was the lady who wrote the job description for the role that all cruise passengers instantly recognise today. And it was fun to learn too that Hilda's final swimming pool opening as an amateur was the very same pool where I used to swim as a kid! A lovely human story, not just a catalogue of facts and figures (but they're included too!). Facing a 17 hour flight? Take this book along!
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