Tom Blower

Swims from Ireland to Scotland

They say that swimming the English Channel is an awesome feat but there is no doubt that the Swim from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland to Portpatrick in Scotland across the 21 miles of the North Channel of the Irish Sea is perhaps one of the most terrifying swims in the world.

Tom Blower from Nottingham was the first man to complete this swim a jovial giant who was 6ft 1inch tall and weighed in at 252 pounds, he was famous in Nottingham for helping crippled kids to swim was devoted to youth clubs and gave exhibitions for charity.

Not many people have dared to swim the North Channel the American Florence Chadwick made two unsuccessful attempts in 1957 and 1960 she very nearly lost her life on both occassions, the Greek Jason Zirganos died in 1959 trying this swim.

Tom Blower swam the English Channel in 1937 and after the war made two attempts at swimming the North Channel his first attempt early in the summer of 1947 was called off when the water got so rough the crews who were manning the boats that were accompanying him became exhausted.

On July 27th he made his second attempt he kissed his wife goodbye and said "Im not getting out for anybody this time". When Blower entered the water the forecast was for at least 15 hours of good weather. However his wife was worried, the sea she recalled was a slimy smoothness and the sky was too red. It was evening when Blower splashed away accompanied by an armada of boats soon he was alone with his supporting boats. Wearing an old pair of darned swimming trunks tied up with a piece of string. The water temperature dropped to 49 degrees, Blower had to swim through fields of seaweed and shoals of herring nibbled his feet, the sea turned silver there were so many herrings, a member of the Irish Amateur swimming association who swam with Blower for an hour came out so cold that they had to wrap his feet in a blanket and put them in an oven to thaw him out.

A Storm Breaks

Morning broke with one of the most spectacular thunderstorms to ever hit Scotland.

At sea it took two men to hold the stove with which Clarice Bower cooked food for her husband, however the weather was so bad they couldn't reach him with the food.

They lost track of him for long periods has he fell completely from sight amid the waves and then hail as big as eggs began to fall.

Tom Blower was struggling he lost the use of one of his arms and his feet were flailing his support crew wanted to pull him out but Clarice would have none of it. Blower swam for four hours and didn't make a single mile. Finally the storm abated and Blower started to make headway once more.

Tom finally swam into a small Scottish cove the sky cleared and he crawled out of the water onto the rocks, it took Tom Blower 15 hours and 26 minutes to make the historic swim.

Tom Blower went on to swim the English Channel twice more in 1948 and 1951 he died at home of heart attack in 1955 aged 41.

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